THEFT DETERRENT PASSWORD RELEARN
General Motors uses three different types of vehicle theft deterrent systems in their cars and trucks manufactured from 1986.
1. Pass-key or Passkey 2 (PK2)
3. Passkey 3 (PK3) or Passkey 3+
Instead of listing all of the vehicles and the systems that they use, we will simplify the identification process by taking a look at the vehicle ignition key (Refer to page 8 for key identification). There is one other system, referred to as VATS (Vehicle Anti-theft System) that is used by GM. This system is similar to Passkey, but since a relearn is not necessary, we will not elaborate on this system in this article. By referring to the chart and matching the correct key, you can safely identify the system that the vehicle uses, and, in turn, determine the correct relearn procedure. Just remember, that this article pertains only to those vehicles with a re-programmable or “re-flashable” PCM.
PASSKEY & PASSKEY 2
This system consists of: the Powertrain Control Module (ECM or PCM), Body Control Module (BCM) or Passkey theft deterrent module, and the ignition lock and key. In most cases, the theft deterrent duties are handled by a Passkey module. In those vehicles, if you are replacing a key, all you must do is match the resistance of the existing key that is in use. If you replace the theft deterrent module, then the module will learn the existing key resistance with the first start up sequence. At that point, the resistance is permanently memorized by the module, and can no longer be changed. No relearn is necessary. In this situation, the vehicle will start and run with no problem. If the vehicle won’t start, check your scan tool for a VTD (Vehicle Theft Deterrent) Fail-Enable Mode trouble code, or if the security light on the dash is illuminated. If you have this code, then the vehicle probably is equipped with a BCM, and you must perform a relearn.
The next section applies only to those vehicles that use a BCM.
For those vehicles that use a BCM, the BCM can learn the resistance value of the existing key by using the relearn process. In order for the vehicle to start, the BCM (as well as the Passkey module in other vehicles) must identify the resistor pellet in the key, then the BCM sends a password to the PCM. If this password matches the password stored in the PCM, the system enables fuel delivery. So you can see that if either the BCM or PCM are replaced, a relearn procedure is necessary. This same relearn procedure can be used if an ignition key with a different resistance value is used to replace the existing key. Before beginning the relearn, make sure there is a fully charged battery in the vehicle, and both the BCM and PCM are properly powered up and in communication with each other. Now you’re ready to initiate the relearn procedure.
1. First, insert the ignition key and turn the ignition switch to the “On” position (Do not start the engine). Leave the switch on for 11 minutes. The security light may flash or be on steady during this 11 minute period. Make sure the light is no longer on or flashing before proceeding to #2 .
2. Turn the ignition switch off for 30 seconds.
3. Turn the ignition switch to the “On” position (as in step #1) for 11 minutes again.
4. Turn the ignition switch off for another 30 seconds.
5. Turn the ignition switch to the “On” position for 11 minutes a third time.
6. Turn the ignition switch off for 30 seconds one final time.
7. Turn the ignition switch to the “On” position one final time and wait 30 seconds.
8. Attempt to start the engine. If the engine starts and runs normally, the relearn is complete. If the engine does not start, check for trouble codes and address them before attempting the relearn procedure again.
The Passlock system is designed to prevent vehicle operation if the key is not used to start the vehicle. The key, which does not contain a resistor will turn the Passlock lock cylinder. The Passlock lock cylinder will relay a resistance code to the instrument panel cluster (IPC). It does this by rotating a magnet past a stationary hall effect sensor, creating a resistance code. At this point the IPC will determine if the resistance code is correct and within an acceptable time frame. If the code is correct, the IPC will send a coded password to the powertrain control module (PCM). If the PCM receives the correct password, it will allow the fuel injectors to operate normally and the vehicle will start and run normally. If the correct resistance code from the lock cylinder is not received within the acceptable time frame, the vehicle will go into a short tamper mode during which the theft deterrent system will not allow the vehicle to operate for approximately 4 seconds. When this occurs, the security indicator will flash. After three consecutive failed tries, the system will enter into a long tamper mode. In this mode, the fuel injectors will be disabled for approximately 10 minutes, and the security indicator will be flashing. Please note that in any of the tamper modes, the vehicle may start, but it will quickly stall.
The Passlock system is designed to prevent vehicle theft even if any of the theft deterrent parts are replaced. Passlock eliminates the need for the key mounted resistor. Parts that can no longer be replaced without the possibility of the system going into a tamper mode and prevent starting are: the lock cylinder, the instrument panel cluster (IPC), and the powertrain control module (PCM).
In order to initiate the relearn:
1. Hook up your scan tool to erase any of the passlock/vehicle theft deterrent trouble codes. If there are any other codes, note them before you erase them, so you may address them after the relearn has been completed.
2. With the ignition key in the “On” position from the code-clearing step, attempt to start the vehicle. At this point, if the vehicle starts, and the security light has not illuminated, a relearn is not necessary, and you’re done. If the vehicle starts and stalls, leave the key in the “Run” position and wait for the “Security” light to turn off. This will take approximately 10 minutes. At any time during this relearn, the light may flash or be on steady. If the ignition switch is turned off at any time during this relearn cycle that the security light is illuminated, the entire cycle must be restarted from the beginning. For most cars, one cycle will be sufficient for the relearn. If the vehicle will not start after the first cycle, then continue the process from step #3 to the end. Most trucks will require that you continue from step #3 to the end.
3. When the light turns off, turn the ignition switch to the “Off” position for approximately ten seconds.
4. Next, repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times for a total of three cycles. After the third time, the new code will be relearned on the next start attempt when the ignition switch is rotated from the “Off” position.
5. From the “Off” position, start the vehicle, observing the security light. If the vehicle starts and runs normally, and the security light is off, the relearn is complete. If the vehicle does not start, check for trouble codes before proceeding further.
PASSKEY 3 AND PASSKEY 3+
In this system, the vehicle theft deterrent functions are provided by the theft deterrent control module. There is a transponder embedded in the head of the key that becomes energized by the exciter coils in the ignition lock cylinder when the ignition switch is turned on. The energized transponder now transmits a signal containing a unique value to the theft deterrent control module. If the module accepts this value, then there is an additional communication that takes place between the module and the key. If the module and the key agree, then the module sends the fuel enable password to the PCM. If the PCM recognizes the password, then the vehicle starts and runs normally. If any of the communication between the module and the key is incorrect or the PCM does not recognize the password, then the fuel injectors are disabled. The ignition key is a normal looking key with no visible contacts as in the Passkey or VATS systems. The transponder is located in the key head. The transponder value is fixed and cannot be changed. These keys are usually identified by the letters PK3, or PK3+ stamped into the steel body. A relearn will be necessary if any of the following have been replaced: any key, the theft deterrent control module or the powertrain control module (PCM). When the theft control module is being replaced, the module will learn the existing keys immediately. However, the PCM must learn the new fuel enable password from the new module. If you are replacing a PCM with a PCM that has been used in another vehicle or has been remanufactured, then a relearn must be performed in order for the PCM to learn the fuel enable password. Keep in mind that when you perform a relearn on this system, all previously learned keys will be erased from the theft deterrent control module’s memory. Any additional keys may be relearned immediately after the first relearn has been performed by inserting the additional key and turning the ignition switch to the “On” position within ten seconds of removing the previously learned key.
In order to initiate the relearn process:
1. Insert a master key (black head) into the ignition switch.
2. Turn to the “On” position without starting the engine. The security light should illuminate and stay on.
3. Wait approximately 10 minutes or until the security light turns off.
4. Turn off the ignition switch and wait 5 seconds.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 two more times with the same key.
6. Turn the ignition off. The vehicle will now learn the key transponder information on the next start cycle.
7. Start the vehicle. If vehicle starts and runs normally, and security light is off, the relearn is complete.
If additional keys are to be relearned:
8. Turn the vehicle off.
9. Insert the next key to be learned and turn the ignition switch to the “On” position within 10 seconds of removing the previously used key.
10. Wait for the security light to turn off. It should happen quickly. You may not even notice the light come on, because it will learn the key transponder immediately.
11. Repeat steps 8 through 10 for any additional keys.
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