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Cadillac Repair/97 sts cadillac theft system problem


QUESTION: I have a 1997 Cadillac sts and recently it has been saying starting disable due to theft system problem. my car will not start and tell me to wait 3 min before entering key into ignition. it starts sometimes if I keep trying over and over. also I have had a new key made to unlock the doors of the car but this new one only opens my driver door not all of them. Please I hope you can help.

ANSWER: Hello,

This is the most common question as it relates to the GM JUNK ANTI THEFT SYSTEM known as VATS that there ever has been. Deliberately designed for failure so you would have to go to a dealer and let them rip you off for the $800.00 ignition lock cylinder/harness replacement. The problem happens on every one of these that has that ugly black resistor chip in the ignition key.
Computers are outdated when you buy one. Now, how good can a so called anti theft system be when it was used by GM for 19 years?

You have a wire broken inside the plastic insulation in the steering column. You will never see the break. Only an ohm meter will confirm it, but once moved around a little, goes right back together and can't be found.

Call around to alarm stores and find one that can bypass the VATS for you. Should cost around $60.00 and you will never have the problem again.

Good Luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: If I put a new alarm system put in .. Would that work as well? Will it start up without theft system problems?


Your answer is no. An alarm and the VATS ignition disable are two separate entities. The alarm stor can bypass the VATS, but that is a different animal all together than an alarm.

See the Vehicle Anti Theft System (VATS) has nothing to do with prevention from auto theft. It just requires one of fourteen different resistors to enable the ignition. The very thin wires for this system break inside the insulation an will go back together playing with the tilt on the column until the next time the engine will not start. Cadillac will hit you $800 for a now ignition lock harness assembly that will just fail in the future. That is why I state bypass this junk. This is 1986 technology installed in your 1997 vehicle which they used until 2005 on some models. JUNK!


I enjoy sharing my extensive knowledge with others to assist them in this lousy economy. Kind of cool in which I had the same issue last week with a guy in the woods of Germany. His car is now running and he is happy!
It maked me feel good I can help people from 100 miles away to 10,000 miles away.

If you are going to add an alarm over anf beyond I recommend a pager that will alert you. Once the vats is bypassed it takes only 30 seconds to defeat the locking mechanisms on the lefy side of the steering column by a teenager with a screwdriver. Our store rebuilt over 10,000 Oof these steering columns. With the pager get a starter interrupt.
The reason I tell you this is that old cars are stolen all the time and no one pays attention to sirens.
I have lived and breathed auto theft for over 30 years.

The other day there was a news piece on NBC as to how thieves could enter vehicles with their own remotes. The cops in California were baffled because the manufacture uses code hopping an encypted signal that purportedly cannot be bypassed. Again because of ignorrance and arrogance the cops vould not grasp this. The rolling codes were high tech for auto makers thr year yout car was made even though the after market alarms had this technology 3 years before. Like your vats the factory overused the security shelf life by 15 years. If one buys a computer as soon as he leaves the store it is obsolete. And yet factory security stays static for 20 years. As I said GM used the vats from 1986-2005 on thr Corvette yet by 1990 we were already bypassing the junk. If you checked my archoves on yhr vats I have anseered that hundreds of times likr tike the problems of minor over heating to a Cadillac aluminum engine which will melt and the heater blowers that run until the battery is dead.
I love Cadillacs and have owned over 20 both new and used. I am just very well aware of their quirks and any type of vehicle security.

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Rob Painter


Alarm system questions cannot be answered on this forum. These systems are not what I can answer. Without being physically at the vehicle and not knowing what kind of electrical service has been done on the vehicle, there is no possible way to give an accurate answer over the internet. My expertise is in Ignition/key based anti-theft systems. These issues include GM VATS (resistor chip in key blade) PASSLOCK (MRD)-ignition lock rotation based, no special ignition key and the PKIII Transponder (computer chip in key) systems. These systems are not alarm based and are integral with the starting of the engine. This is why I cannot diagnose alarm problems without physically looking at the vehicle: Alarm systems are a completely different annimal than ignition key/lock based anti-theft system. Many alarm questions come from vehicles 10 years old, and since older, many hands that had been involved over the years.I am an expert in all GM factory (ignition/key based)systems. Alarm system questions pose to many situations beyond my knowledge as to what has been done to the vehicle over the years. Some guy may have actually wired the stereo into the alarm system. Who knows? Over my past 30 years in vehicle wiring repair, I have seen unbelievable wiring disaters done by guys that consider themselves "mechanics." I have seen stereos and alarms intalled using surgical tape. I have seen modules burn up, un-fused circuits, wiring jambed between the doors and even lamp cord used for a starter kill. To answer alarm questions over the internet without examining the vehicle is like asking; What does it take to remove a dent?


Education/Credentials-ASE certified. 11 years with a GM dealer and 17 years with a repair facility dealing with only the repair of theft recovered vehicles.

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