Reatta Owners Journal

If you turn the key to the start position and the engine will not turn over, the wires for the VATS/Passkey system in the steering column may be broken.  It is a common problem with the Buick Reatta.  If the "Security" light comes on when you turn the key to the start position, it is a good indicator that the VATS/Passkey system is the problem.  It's possible to bypass the key reader in the Ignition Lock Cylinder using the instructions below.

This should only be done after you have eliminated all other possibilities, such as a bad ignition switch, bad starter, dirty ignition key, etc., that could be preventing your car from starting. You will lose the security of the VAT/Passkey system if you bypass the key reader. Any key that will turn the lock will be able to start your car.

1. Use an ohmmeter to read the resistance in the black chip in your key.

Set the meter to the 20 kOhm setting. The chip is sometimes called a pellet. The resistor in your key should be within one of the ranges shown in the list below.

Resistance ranges for a given key code 1-15:
(All are 10% values unless noted - measured in kOhms)

1. .386 - .438 2. .502 - .564 3. .650 - 728 4. .850 - .942 (5%)
5. 1.085 - 1.195 (5%) 6. 1.411 - 1.549 7. 1.795 - 1.965 8. 2.275 - 2.485 (5%)
9. 2.890 - 3.150 (5%) 10. 3.590 - 3.910 (5%) 11. 4.560 - 4.960 12. 5.798 - 6.302 (5%)
13. 7.200 - 7.820 (5%) 14. 9.149 - 9.931 15. 11.320 - 12.290  


2. Purchase the correct resistor for your Reatta.

You should be able to buy the resistor you need from a local electronics store or you can buy an inexpensive kit that has an assortment of the resistors that were used in the keys.  One of them should be the right one for your car.  GM VATS Bypass Kit-652T 

Be sure to use a resistor with the correct value (+/- 5% or +/- 10%) for your key.

3. Remove the panel under the drivers side of the dash to gain access to the bottom of the steering column.

Look for a small connector with two small white wires attached to it.  There should be an orange covering around the wires going up the steering column.

4.Disconnect the connector shown below.
ignition switch

At this point you should check to make certain the key reader in the ignition lock is what is keeping your car from starting by performing the following test.

  1. Clean the key and ignition lock with non-flammable, plastic safe, contact cleaner to insure the key is making good contact with the ignition lock. Allow contact cleaner to dry.
  2. Connect the probes of your ohmmeter to the white wires in the connector that goes up the steering column to the ignition lock.
  3. Insert the key (with correct chip) in the ignition and turn it to the start position.

The reading on your meter should be the same reading you got when you checked the resistance of the key.

  • If the readings are not the same you can replace the Ignition Lock Cylinder, (you will need to run the new wires, included, through the steering column), or continue with step 5 below to bypass the VATS/Passkey system. 
  • If the reading is the same as the key your problem is NOT likely to be the key reader in the ignition lock.

5. On the side of the connector that goes up the column, cut the white wires leaving a few inches of wire with the connector. 

Make sure you cut the white wires on the correct side of the connector, the side going up the column to the switch.  Leave enough wire with the connector for soldering a resistor to them.

6. After you have the connector with two wires removed, solder one end of the resistor to each wire making a loop. Use heat shrink tubing or black tape to cover the bare wires and resistor.

7. Plug the connector with the resistor installed back into the other part of the connector and secure it from hanging down.

8. Replace the panel under the dash and you're done.

Thanks to Padgett and other forum members for this information


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