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Pontiac Grand Am Security Passlock Problems



  • I'm sorry that your daughter had this problem when her battery was exhausted, but the Security System reset solution is clearly stated in the Pontiac Owner's manual.
    I am like everyone else... I never read my owner's manual until something happens that I don't understand, or don't know what how to handle. I suppose we are all too lazy to even skim through our owner's manuals, even when we pay $18000 for a new vehicle.
    But to defend General Motors. the Passlock Relearn procedure is not a "wonderfully simple procedure that was their little secret for all these years." It is clearly stated in the owner's manual, and is also clearly referenced in the index. When it happened to me the first time, all I had to do was pull the owner's manual out of the glove box, and within 3 or 4 minutes, I was able to follow the clearly written instructions to perform the relearn procedure. I believe your wrath with GM is unfounded. I have seen much more glaring oversights in Honda and Toyota Owner's Manuals. One Anti-theft reference in a late model Toyota Manual suggests buying a new smart key ($210.00), rather than taking the vehicle to a dealer and having the scan tool reprogram the key-recognition circuit.

    Please understand that GM engineers, and for that matter, all the automobile companies take many precautions to avoid having "Walk Home" situations for their customers. That's the reason why there is the 10 minute security reset procedure written so clearly in the owner's manual. Yes, waiting 10 minutes for the security system to relearn the correct value is an inconvenience, but far less of an inconvenience than having the vehicle towed to a dealer.
  • My god, I never knew, wish I read this first before buying the car. Ok, here's my issue but I have a gps tracker also in mine til car is paid off , then box removed. Would this also cause my passlock to kick in & the car not to start. Mines only happen 6 mths ago & then just this Friday headlights & dashboard lights came on....But, wouldnt start up....Had towed to mechanic, Cant said what he did,...(sorry) but he said when he got in car didnt start & then he did his thing & the car started right up.....I was so pissed cause I lost work cause of this & not only that my payment is current, so why disarming the vehicle. Mechanic did a service check, couldnt find anything wrong. He boiled it down to that black box disarmed vehicle. Called dealer & asked why my vehicle was disarmed for no apparent reason. We dont know anything about that, we dont disarm vehicle...Really, well explain too me why I have a little blinking black box under my dashboard & since you dont know anything about it, then Im having it removed......long pause, thought he hung up. Ms, that's for security purposes. Oh so now all of a sudden you know what Im talking about. I inform them if my vehicle is ever disarm for no apparent reason again, we will be heading to small claims court. And, Im pretty sure I will win, once judge ask same thing why are you disarming vehicle, never a late payment. I regret I even have to deal with them for 2 more months.....

  • P.S....And now that Im reading about this Passlock Security thats built in....I spoken with Mickey Shorr about this & this will be corrected also. But, they wont touch vehicle until box has been removed....

  • Help!!!! I bought a 1999 grand am 3.4 the girl who owned it had lost her keys so someone had done a hack job om the ignition to get a screw driver in there to start it... long story short for some reason you had to hold the screw driver just right or the car would die even while driving. I went and got an ignition and key from the junk yard they just took the tumbler out of the new ignition into the old one. After that it wouldn't start it turns over but wouldn't ignite, and the security light was on. I found a niffty little video on youtube where the kid cuts a yellow wire and runs it to a stps toggle switch and we decided to do that. However now the video didnt say a word about getting the car running before cutting the yellow wire. So they cut the yellow wire with my car off and now I have no dash lights at all... a friend told me to try the hole hold the key on until the dinging stops and the security light goes off then leave the key turned to acc for 10 min. Well I HAVE NO DASH LIGHTS!!!... what can I do?.... if they put thebnew tumbler into the new ignition and replace the while thing will it work again. Or is there a way to get the car started seriously I have no clue whay to do please email me at
  • joes777joes777 Posts: 0

    Chevy Impala starts and runs with security light on solid. Hopefully the following info can help others, as it seems to be common across many GM models.

    My security light issue on my 2005 Impala has finally been beaten into submission. After many hours of research on multiple blogs and about $200 in parts the issues have been resolved. My car has the passlock system with the sensor in the key cylinder, not in the key.
    Chevy Impala starts and runs security light on solid

    My problem started as a no-start/10 minute wait issue at the most inconvenient times. The key could actually be removed from the cylinder while driving the car (and my car isn't on the list of recalls). After replacing the key cylinder/passlock chip, it became a "security light on" issue with the car starting every time (which is fail-enable mode).

    I started by replacing the key cylinder/sensor since it was mechanically defective. The car would then start up every time, but the security light would stay on solid. I then bought the ignition switch unit that the cylinder goes into, no change in the symptom. The switch I bought came with another key cylinder/sensor (at a very good price on Amazon). Now I have 3 key cylinder's/sensors - which turned out to be helpful in the end.

    So much for parts swapping, I didn't want to replace the BCM and make a trip to the dealership to program it. After researching on this list and several others, I found wiring diagrams and expected voltages on each of the 3 sensor wires at each switch position. I purchased a good set of wire piercing probes off of Amazon also. I also took a 3 pin connector out of an old pc, which allowed me to connect directly to the sensor and eliminate the "blind" connection in the housing. Armed with tools and knowledge, I took the dash apart again (I can do it in 10 minutes now).

    With my volt meter, I found the following:
    1. 12.3 volts on the white wire, switch in the on position.
    2. The black wire was properly grounded.
    3. The yellow wire showed 1.27 volts, too low for the on position, should be near 5 volts.
    4. With the switch in the start position, I got the same voltages. The yellow wire should drop when you go to start as the resistor will be in effect.
    5. Full continuity from all 3 sensor wires to the BCM connection.
    6. Pulled the BCM out (difficult), everything inside in excellent condition.
    7. No shorts detected.

    I then swapped out the key cylinder/sensor with my other new one, and I saw 4.7 volts on the yellow wire in the on position, and 2.2 volts when I turned to the start position. This looked good, but the security light stayed on. On a whim, I put the old, mechanically defective key cylinder back in and the security light went out! This told me several things:
    1. The system is stuck in fail-enable mode and is happy with the resistance on the old sensor.
    2. One of my 2 new key cylinders/sensors is bad.
    3. The old switch and the BCM are probably good.

    I was not able to initiate the relearn by having the battery disconnected for several hours. I tried removing the fuel pump and starter fuses as recommended to keep it from starting during the relearn attempt, did not work. The security light needs to be flashing(able to relearn), not on steady(fail-enable). A Tech II scanner would be able to force it, but I was determined to avoid the dealership.

    Quite accidentally, I made it go into relearn mode. For every part swap/wire disconnect/reconnect I would disconnect the battery. The last time I pushed the key cylinder back in (the good one) I forgot to disconnect the battery. The system must have detected a tamper condition and the security light started flashing. A 30 minute relearn process later and the security light goes off. No issues through the whole weekend so far.

    I could have done the resistor bypass method and avoided all the testing as mentioned by many, but I would have needed to match the resistance exactly since I could not get it to relearn.

    I've learned way more than I ever needed to on this system. It's amazing, all the work-arounds and bypasses and hacks that are available. Even the possibility of disabling the whole system with a Tech II or one of the tuners out there looked like an interesting possibility. GM should offer that as a fix, but that would be admitting to a faulty product.

    Thanks to all for the valuable info, especially the website and

  • sara1286sara1286 Posts: 1

    I had the same problem. I'd go to start my car, it would crank but wouldn't stay on. I'd have it towed, and then magically it would start again. The mechanics looked at my like I was crazy!! This happened very randomly over six months. Finally after the last time, it still wouldn't start after being towed and I was told the key ignition was throwing the car into security mode. they replaced the key cylinder and reprogrammed the computer. Thus far I haven't had any problems. I never had a security light come on, it just wouldn't start. Hopefully the problem is actually fixed but I always expect to be stranded after that ordeal.

  • haltongunhaltongun Posts: 1

    try to take key to right side front door, turn the key from left to right fully 3 times and wait 3 minutes i have 1999 grand am and had these problems

  • rk2001gtrk2001gt Posts: 1

    Mine is a 2001 grand am gt 3.4L and now has been sitting for months due to this security crap I have owned it since day one bought her with only 1 and half miles on it!! It has been my baby and I have kept reg maintenance on it and I have never had any issues with it and I love her and hate to rid it but I am a single mom and can not afford for this to happen all the time! I have tried the relearn nothing starts 2 secs then dies I can hear the fuel pump kick on so I know that is not the issue!! It ran fine then arked it woke up and trunk was popping things dinging ect I couldn't find the tool to disconnect battery and it eventually died!! So I did research and tried everything and still have gotten nowhere with it and it is still sitting in driveway!! I pulled out the pugs n BCM and didn't see no corrode anywhere checked every fuse I could find all fine! I am so stressed out with this called the dealer and they want crap ton of money to fix any help please I am about to lose it or go crunch it at junk yard!!!!!!

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,042
    edited July 2014

    If your Pontiac Grand Am or Chevy Malibu has ever had ignition problems, a reporter would like to hear from you. Please email by Tuesday, July 15, 2014 to share your story.


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  • tcmusictcmusic Posts: 1

    I paid for a new ignition switch for my 2001 Pontiac Grand AM ($1000) that was suppose to include programming. I got my car back and it will not start. Two months ago I took it back to them and they keep saying it's a programming thing and that I have to pay more $$$. I told them the damn car isn't worth it! I am getting hosed here aren't I.

  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524

    I am getting hosed here aren't I.
    I would have to say yes. It shouldn't cost that much for a new ignition switch. What was the original problem?

  • ezfixezfix Posts: 1
    I have a 1998 Chevy Cavalier. I have the "Passlock" security system (not Passlock I or II). My anti theft light would go on and my car would stall in traffic. I first had the car towed to a mechanic, who couldn't fix the faulty Passlock . I called Chevy as the manual suggested and Castriotta Chevy in Hudson Florida convinced the mechanic that I needed the car towed in to a Chevy dealer only.

    Castriotta Chevy wanted $350 to bypass the security system for good. I then learned online you can leave the ignition in the start position for at least 10 minutes or more, but no less than 10 minutes and your car would drive on its own temporarily.

    I also read online at Amazon that the PLJX "Directed Electronics" Gm Self Learning Passlock Override for $22.95 would do the trick (NOT), so I ordered it sent overnight express to a second mechanic who figured he could install it after I showed him the printed material from Amazon.

    I then drove my car from Castriotta Chevy to this second mechanic. That failed. I learned that Auto Radio and alarm shops are best at installing electronic devices like this.

    I went to the Directed Electronics website to look for authorized dealers to install the PLJX Passlock bypass. The authorized dealers I went to knew nothing about this fix ( I went to 2 local dealers.

    I then saw 2 separate posts online where they spoke of spraying electronic spray, not graphite into the ignition cylinder, so I went to Walmart and bought CRC electronic spray and sprayed it right into the ignition cylinder.

    The next day I waited the 10 minutes, started my car and took it to Ed Morse Chevrolet in Port Richey Florida. I told Anthony at Ed Morse that Castriotta said my problem was definitely the Passlock.

    Anthony said they would still have to diagnose the problem themselves. After 2 days this second Chevy dealer could find nothing wrong and charged me nothing to look at the car.

    SPRAY CRC electronics cleaner directly into the ignition cylinder. Electronics spray is safe to clean anything electronic such as the inner electronic parts of a computer or something like the electronic parts in an ignition cylinder which also gets old, dusty, and dirty. Oil or WD40 is not safe for electronic parts and graphite hardens.

    My car has been running great for months now after spraying CRC electronics cleaner into the ignition cylinder -- without the ant-theft light coming on or the car stalling in traffic anymore!

  • ok I have a 03 pontaic grand am v6
    im currently is the same situation but im not sure if its the same security passlock problem or not

    my problem is my car wont turn over like if it was in security mode, im used to putting the key inn the on position for ten min but this time its not that. usually the security light flashes for ten min with the key in the on position.
    my grand am wont start. ive tried the master reset 10 min, 10 min, 10min with two different keys. no luck

    ive replaced the battery,
    jumped the starter but after it starts,
    it shuts off immediately after.
    my door locks have no power, neither do the interior lights, headlights turn on,
    you can hear the fuel pump run when key is in the on positon.
    im hoping this isn't a short in my electrical system. anyone ever come across this situation?
  • Pontiac Grand Am Security Passlock Problem - my solution

    1. Background
    a. The security light flashed a few times while I was driving, then I started to look for the Passlock system information.
    b. Sometimes, when I turned the key to off, the OIL and BATTERY lights stayed on, and the key did not fit too well into the key cylinder (hard to turn the key), so I replaced the key cylinder assembly.
    c. Not able to start the car afterward (cranking, but not started, SECURITY light off).
    d. Had to tow the car to the dealer. They had the car started but could not give me any information as what was wrong.
    e. When I used the remote starter, the car would start but immediately shut off. No SECURITY light.
    2. I searched on the internet for the Passlock problem again, and this time I found a post that I did not see before:
    3. It said "enter the car, lock the door, un-lock the door, and lock the door again, then try to start the car".
    4. I did the above, the car did not start, but the SECURITY light was flashing when I returned the key from START to RUN.
    5. So I followed the known fix by leaving the key in the RUN position until the SECURITY light went out; then I turned the key to OFF then START, and the car started.
    6. The SECURITY light stayed on, which did not matter to me, as I was going to cut the yellow wire (see other posts in the forum for information about the yellow wire).
    7. I cut the yellow wire while the car is running; the SECURITY light stayed on; and I have been driving for a few days already.
    8. I am planning to remove the SECURITY light bulb when I work on the dashboard next time.
  • kyradogkyradog Posts: 1
    Kudos to Dick for making this info available and continuing to answer posts for so long. I hope he made some spare change for his efforts along the way.
    Given that his last post was December 2013, I get the impression he's done answering the same question over and again and has likely retired.

    I do have an issue that seriously perturbed me... Though in fairness, he may have addressed it since. After the first 13 forum pages, I skipped to the last 42 and 43 pages and may not have seen it...

    Dick insisted OVER and OVER again that a tripped Passlock would NOT disable the starter on a Grand Am.
    It supposedly ONLY disabled the fuel supply.

    This is absolutely NOT the case and I suspect the cause for his position on this was that he either didn't consider the fact that these posts were originating from Canada or other GM markets, and/or it was an issue strictly with the 2005.
    I don't think it's just a 2005 issue, as I saw a poster adamantly make the same point on his 2003. I believe it is a small difference in the Passlock System for vehicles manufactured for sale outside of the contiguous 48.
    When my GA is in Passlock trip waiting the 10 minutes (exactly) I could push the pin on the fuel rail and get a burst of fuel 15 feet if I were inclined. As many others have stated, the fuel system remains fully pressurized and it is, in fact, the starter that is disabled. This is partially what screwed me when I installed a remote starter on it 9 years ago. I couldn't override the Passlock and get the starter to crank. With this resistor fix, the remote starter also may have worked perfectly fine, if only I'd known back then.

    Also, on these "starter disable vehicles" as mentioned in other posts, there is obviously a black and a yellow, but the third wire is a creamy white/yellow color that has been mentioned in many posts also where Dick basically blasted the poster for not knowing what they were doing or following instructions. "GO TO BCM".

    I love my Suzuki engines and on the we celebrate and discuss the differences in powertrain configurations between Australia, Europe, Canada and the 48 USA. I've rebuilt 3 of my own Suzuki engines because they are so easy to work with. I've also built, from scratch, 2 4-bolt 435 HP Chevy 350's. So it's not like I don't know what I'm talking about.

    So, basically, Dicks fix may or may not fix my or many other's situations.
    I used a 2.2K resistor on a terminal strip beside the ignition cylinder. Yes it's on the BCM side, not the switch side. And the connections are solid.
    On turning to ignition, I should have got a flashing security light.
    I did not. It was solid and engine started. repeatedly. I tried a 30 min but knew it was pointless.

    So at this point Dick says check for corrosion at the BCM terminals. HuH??
    Do you guys leave your car windows open during a tornado or such so that moisture can infiltrate the plugged in terminals to the point that corrosion occurs inside the passenger cabin on that ECM? There's panels to protect it from your kids spilling a slurpee and trying to catch it and spattering everywhere.

    The other claim he says for the security light remaining solid is "broken wire" or the connection from BCM to ignition switch or the resistor patch.
    The braid on these wires is so soft that for them to break would take a huge amount of repetitive motion in one place.
    If that were the case, people would be having breaks in their lighting, ignition, fuel and starting harnesses just as often as the Passlock connection to the BCM.
    I'll dig out my multimeter and test that line but I doubt that's the issue. I'll get the same value as the resistor I just put in plus the minor loss over distance.

    I'm hoping I wont get another Passlock trip and I'll look at some of the things Dick suggested, but if it does trip, I'm hoping it will learn the new resistance value immediately after my 10 mins.
    It's left us stuck in bad places in past!

  • I too, have a "Grand" problem. I installed the resistor, checked it at the BCM plug and it reads the right resistance. It starts instantly, will run and start all day, but come daybreak, I have to disconnect the battery, wait a while, and then it will start. It's like Groundhog Day. It's a V-6, GT and only has 84k miles. It was a gift from my dad who can no longer drive, to my daughter. I just don't want to leave her stranded anywhere.
    If it's the BCM, and I buy a used one, and the numbers on the controls match, will it work, will it have to "flashed" and will I have to remove the resistor?

  • Hi... I have a problem with a 2002 grandAm gt 3.4
    The problem is that the car starts but only for a moment and goes off. the "security" light is not on. After reading some of the comments on this page, review the BCM and find a broken pin.

    I bought a used BCM. and change the cylinder of the key. after this try to start the car following the sequence of ten minutes in start "
    but I still can not turn on the car. I insist, the "security" light is not on
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