Back in 1986 GM introduced the factory security systems, also known as immobilizers. In doing so, they were planting an expensive time-bomb in each and every one of the affected vehicles. Given the impact of those systems in the years since the systems were introduced, it’s not really clear whether the intention was really to provide additional security, or to generate a new revenue stream for GM parts manufacturers and dealerships.
GM PASSKey goes by many names
Over the years, GM has come up with a number of catchy names for these systems:
- Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS)
- Personal Anti-theft Security System (PASSkey). To be precise, PASSkey I, PASSkey II, and – count them – PASSkey III.
- PASSlock. After all, what good is a key without a lock?
The disabling effect of GM PASSkey Systems
In spite of the efforts to make the systems, generally known in the industry as PASSkey Systems, sound effective and ever more advanced, they are really all pretty much the same.
It doesn’t really matter if the vehicle’s PASSkey System is controlled by a resistor in the key, by the Theft Deterrent Module (TDM), or by the Body Control Module (BDM).
One of the key attributes that all the GM PASSkey Security Systems share is that they systematically end up immobilizing cars, alright, making it impossible for their owners to start them!
Yes, the many versions may all look different, but they are all based on the same simple idea – so simple, in fact, that you could argue it’s not a suitable foundation for building a true security system.
Most importantly, they all end up immobilizing the host vehicle permanently once it’s about 7 years old. And in all cases, your friendly dealer will ask at least $1,000 to fix the problem – which will invariably strike again after a few more years.
So why are affected owners reluctant to purchase an aftermarket solution through a small shop, at a much lower price? Possibly because these are “security” systems, and they can only get the care and reserve they deserve only from a GM dealership?
The more fortunate owners may think, my vehicle is worth much more than $1,000, and I really don’t know what’s going on, I just don’t want to take any risks, I might as well let the dealership handle this.
But wait a minute… what’s a car dealership’s core business? It’s not repairing obscure, crippling vehicle problems, at a reasonable price. It’s selling you a new vehicle, as often as humanly possible.
And even if your dealership were inclined to help you repair or replace the PASSkey Security System… well, what a coincidence, many of all those versions introduced over the years have been completely discontinued.
In the meantime, your car still won’t start, and that won’t change unless you have a way to disable or bypass the PASSkey System, and so far… you don’t. Nor do you have time to figure it out. And your time is money. Money on top of the taxpayer-funded bailout of GM in both the USA and Canada.
So what do you do end up doing? Maybe you junk the lame Chevy. Then you take out yet another loan to buy another one. That’s a perfectly happy ending to this story…. for the dealer, for GM, and for the bank.
Don’t get me wrong! What I hate is Passkey, not GM!
Look, don’t get me wrong. I love GM cars. Most of all, I love Buicks! I love the sound of the engine, the understated attitude, the size…. In fact, I love them so much, that I own two of them! You can even read about how I saved my ‘95 Buick LeSabre from the PASSkey trap. And I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on a rich gold 1970 Buick Electra in mint condition, no GM PASSkey Security System in that one, thank you very much!
An ounce of prevention….
Is worth a ton of cure. You remember that saying.
Remove the GM PASSkey “Security” System before it gets a chance to take out your vehicle. Seriously! If it’s more than 6 years old, and even (or especially) if it’s still starting every time, just do a full bypass of the PASSkey System, save yourself a great deal of money, time, and aggravation.
And if your vehicle has reached that age and is having trouble starting – trouble that cannot be traced to the usual suspects, like the battery or starter motor, get it done now, before it’s too late.