1996 Deville “STARTING DISABLED - DUE TO THEFT SYSTEM - REMOVE IGNITION KEY” - Cadillac Forum - Enthusiast forums for Cadillac Owners

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Old 07-05-2010, 12:57 PM
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Location: Tulsa, OK
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I have a 1996 Deville with 154,000 miles on it.
I have owned the car for only three weeks. I am not a mechanic, but have some basic wiring/repair skills.
The car started fine for the first three weeks without any incident. Yesterday I was cleaning the car and thought that I would listen to music so I turned the key to the accessory position and listened for about 15-20 minutes. When I was finished I turned the key back to the off position and exited the car and locked the doors using the key fob.
When I came back I opened the doors with the fob and the car it would not start. When I turned the key I got normal dash lights in the run postion and then nothing in the start position except for the message “STARTING DISABLED - DUE TO THEFT SYSTEM - REMOVE IGNITION KEY”.

I tried my spare set of keys for the car with the same results.
I read through the owners manual (I do not own a Factory Service Manual) and lots of posts on this forum and other sites. I read all about the VATS system and how there might be a broken wire at the cylinder. I read about how it is possible to bypass the resister reader in the ignition. I read one post where the person mentioned having put their car in the accessory position for 10+ minutes and experienced similar results.

I called my local dealer and the service manager was very quick to tell me that I had a bad ignition cylinder and that I needed to have the car towed in and the repair would run about $500.

Here are my questions:
1) Does having put the key in the accessory position for any length of time have anything to do with engaging the theft system or programming the cars computer? This seems illogical to me because if you went to a drive in you might need to have your car in the accessory position for over an hour and you would not expect to be “programming” your car in that scenario. I guess it is possible that putting the car into the accessory position caused a mechanical failure in the ignition cylinder that is keeping it from starting?

2) I would prefer to fix this correctly and not do the resister splice, but $500 is a lot of money. Does this price seem reasonable for the job? Is this a job that should be done by only a dealer or could a reputable non-dealer shop handle this repair. I could call around for pricing, but if this is something that “should” really be done at the dealer I will suck it up and get it done. I have read a few posts where people talk about getting a locksmith for ignition work. Is this the type of job that a locksmith could do? Do I call any locksmith or are there specialty auto locksmiths or specialty VATS locksmiths?

3) If I did want to attempt to open the steering column enough to inspect and or possibly try to repair a wire connection can someone please give me an idea how difficult this is and either describe the steps that I will need to take or point me towards a thread that may already cover this process. I attempted to do a search for the "steering column disassembly" and "ignition cylinder replacement" but didn’t find what I was looking for.

Any comments / opinions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:53 PM
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I have been doing some more research and working on the problem and I think I can mostly answer my own questions so I will post my own answers in case someone else has the same questions someday. I would still be interested to hear from one of the moderators to make sure I don't mislead anybody.

Number 1 - I don't think the accessory postition has anything to do with engaging the theft deterant. It sure seemed that way at first because this issue happened right after I put it in the accessory position for the first time since owning the car. I think that when I put the ignition in the accessory position I broke one the white wire connections on the back of the ignition cylinder.

Number 2 - $400 - $500 seems to be the going rate at dealers for a ignition cylinder replacement. Keep in mind that you will have to buy new keys. I was told the ingnition cylinder would be $83 and (1) key would be $42. That would be $82 for keys if you want a spare. So your looking at $160 worth of parts and $340 worth of labor. I didn't ask if key fobs had to be reprogrammed or not.

I found another post on this site that said that the ignition cylinder is not a dealer only part so I don't see why a non-dealer shop could not make the repair as long as they were able to get the new keys set up ok. I was unable to get a price from a non-dealer shop or confirm that they would do it because today being a holiday (July 4th) I could not find one open.

As for Locksmiths, I did an internet yellowpages search and first one I called said they worked with VATS keys. The guy that did the automotive was out today (holiday) but they thought that he would be able to do it. He was not able to however give me a price for what they would charge. They said that they would install the parts that I bought from the dealer.

Number 3 - I can't really answer my question on this one other than to say that I could not figure out how to get into the steering column just looking at it. Which is probably a good thing since that means it is fairly secure and keeps dumb people like me from stealing cars.

Ultimately I decided to bypass the resistor reader in the ignition cylinder. I used information found on this site and others. I measured the ohms of my key using a multimeter, went to a electronics store and purchased two resistors that added up to the total resistance ($1). I twisted them together (in series), wrapped some electrical tape around them and jammed either end of the assembly into the wiring harness above the parking brake pedal where the two white wires enter. VAROOM, car started.

I may still get it repaired but at least this allows me to move my car (it was sitting in my neighbors drive way when it broke) and drive it to the dealer instead of having a tow charge. I may also just leave it as long as it continues to work. I realize that I have just made my car easier to steal but come on... it's a 14 year old car with 154k miles with worn out driver seat foam. If you really need to steal a car THAT bad send me a PM and I'll tell you where I live.

Side note. This may be common knowledge to most, but I pulled the resistor out while the car was running just to make sure that if it came loose while I was driving that the car would not die and continue to run. Apparently the resistor is only needed during the start up process.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 32

i know this post is old but helped mevery much
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Old 02-21-2011, 04:40 PM
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@Johnnyjaws - I'm glad it helped. Quick follow up - My now have 166800 on my deville and I am still using the resister bypass and have not had any issues with it.
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