By on January 10, 2013

Hi Steve and Sajeev:

My daughter has been driving the Saturn Astra recommended by Steve for a few months now and we can all say that it is a nice car — screwed together well, efficient and kinda sporty.  I consider it to be a win. Except for a minor key issue.

The original owner had a remote start installed (nice).  I have one in my Chrysler T&C and that vehicle does not require a key to be hidden in the car; the Saturn does (a GM thing, I hear). So, they buried the other ignition key inside the steering column box.

Thing is, though, is that they never got another key, so there is only one.  Not smart, IMO.  So, rather than drive 20 miles to the nearest GM dealer to buy an overpriced key, I ordered an OEM one from Fob Keyless, and they even cut it.  The key arrived and it unlocked to door and turned in the ignition fine, but it did not start the car — it needed to be programmed.

Here is the rub.  This car does not follow the typical GM procedure for key programming than most of their other cars.  I am told I have to bring it to the dealer and that I will have to present all of the keys — so that means I have to fish out the key that is buried in the dash. My question for you is this:  is that correct?  Is there a workaround that you know of? Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev Says:

A workaround for German car electrics? Surely you jest, my good man!

This website gives a quick yet comprehensive explanation of why that’ll never work. Bite the bullet, get it programmed properly either by a respected locksmith or the dealership. But either way, a trip to a GM dealership is in order.  Perhaps a phone call to make sure they can do it…might need to make multiple calls. Maybe start with a Cadillac dealer, you know, for the best customer service and knowledge of German-ish General Motors Iron.

And since you emailed Steve on a Piston Slap related topic, let’s see what insights The Man has to offer.
Steve Says:

Let me tell you a little story about an old friend and his Mercedes.

Once upon a time I knew a fellow who would buy and sell cars on the side while managing an auto repair shop. Well, one evening he decides to buy a late-80′s Mercedes E-Class at a public auction for a decent price. He gets one key for it.

Only one key. The next day he goes to pick up the vehicle. Dead battery. As soon as they put a jumper on the car the alarm blares, “BWAH!!! BWAH!!!” He tries to start it up with the key. Nothing. Not even a click. Meanwhile the alarm system is blaring like Andy Kaufman at a professional wrestling match. After 20 minutes of fiddling around he has it towed to his shop and directs one of his techs to circumvent the alarm system.

A few too many wires were cut. So for the next three months, the vehicle becomes a statue at the front of his place. Eventually it is brought back to the auction where my friend receives an expensive lesson in cutting corners.

When it comes to the Saturn, your friend is 100% right. You can go to any GM dealer. But they will need all the keys to make it work. I would do that and perhaps get a second duplicate made so you never have to do it again.

Sometimes the cheap way out is a dead end. Just pay “the man”, and let your daughter enjoy one less stress in her ownership experience.

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71 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Young Lady and the Key...”


  • avatar
    kitzler

    one more good reason not to buy GM products, a while back I had trouble with a GM Jimmy: The four wheel drive would not kick out, the mechanic tried everything short of replacing the four wheel drive computer, oh yea, they need a separate computer for that option. The mechanic did not want to try to replace the GM computer, because once it is out of the box, it is yours, and you cannot return it. Even the GM dealer had to follow the same procedure. Hey GM here is to you, and that goes for Carlos the Ghosn as well.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      That’s to prevent people from returning fried ECUs etc to the dealership in a brand new box. It’s been tried before, which is why no OEM parts manufacturer allows for returned electronic parts.

      As for the Saturn, the OP will have to get this programming done at the dealership, as the key cutting program is a part of an anti-theft program that GM has to abide by and is a huge hassle for everybody, not just the owner.

      When you take the car in, have a bunch of extra keys made, because you only pay for the programming fee once, the keys themselves aren’t that expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        We often get parts back that have “never been used” however the broken ESD seals and the crispy burnt smell and cut off wiring must have happened in shipping.

        You buy it you own it!

        As to security systems all new cars are like this now. Most other countries mandate immobilizers on vehicles since the late 90s. It’s not just GM. If you are someone who looses your keys keep a spare.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      kitzler just wanted to GM-bash because he was unhappy with his Jimmy — every car has immobilizers like this these days! Europe and other places have been slightly more aggressive about this due to car theft issues, and the US has only caught up recently.

      Furthermore, the computer thing is because everyone tries to return the fried units to the store (and do it in an absurdly obvious manner). If people hadn’t abused this in the past, it wouldn’t be an issue, and it’s a silly complaint.

      [edit: sorry, should have reloaded before repeating what has been said]

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Toyota and Honda number one stolen car, not GM anymore. Any independent shop with a Tech ll that is up to date should be able to mate your new key. You can locate uncut keys cheaper than the dealership.

      A google search or search on the forums might have the answer you need.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It depends on the stat you use. If you look at individual models, then the 1999 C/K truck is in the top 10, and there are some Hondas (1994 Accord, 1998 Civic, 1994 Integra) and Toyotas (1991 Camry!), and a Ford Explorer (2002), Dodge Ram (2004), Dodge Caravan (2000), and Ford F-150 (2006).

        If you instead look at theft claims per 1000 vehicles, the Escalade is #1. Also in the top 10 are the Silverado crew cab, the Sierra crew cab, the Avalanche, and the Yukon:

        http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/25/autos/most_stolen_cars/index.htm

        Other hot cars are all of Ford F-250, 350, and 450, (only 4WD models), and the Chrysler 300 and 300 Hemi. Seems like the gangsta vehicle of choice is a big truck or a Chrysler 300.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        EDIT:

        @NormSV650

        Not possible. What you’re running the risk of doing is immobilizing the vehicle if the programming isn’t done correctly. Trying to save a few bucks to avoid the stealership in this instance is really a stupid idea.

      • 0 avatar
        MRL325i

        Thanks for the comment Norm but you are incorrect.

    • 0 avatar
      John The Accountant

      What a horrible, uninformed comment. I’d write more, but honestly I don’t want to feed trolling.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Since you’re going to have to dig the key out of the steering column anyway, why not just take that one out and make it your spare? You’ll lose remote start, but consider whether or not remote start is worth what you’ll have to spend to reprogram all your keys.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      For once I agree with CJ. The Saturn Astra was built and assembled in Belgium, had Saturn emblems slapped on it, and shipped quickly overseas without changing a thing to the electrical system. My ’08 Astra XR 5 dr has a number of European-esque qualities (one is the side-parking lights when you parallel park; once parked, no key in the ignition, the turn signal bumped down or up will light the front and tail lamps of the left or right side, depending on what side of the street you’re on). As such, any change by some slack-jawed yokel to the electrical system without understanding its European roots will leave them flummoxed and you stranded.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Not only GM needs a hidden transponder for the remote start to work. Ford PATS or really any anti-theft system that uses a transponder in the key will need a dummy transponder or something similar to fool the factory transceiver.

    Either way, the dealer will need to find the dummy transponder and remove it to program a new key, or the system will continually read that transponder and think only one key is present. Even if you do get it to read both keys, when you try and program the system, it will continually try and program the dummy transponder in the column, not the next inserted key.

    The dealer should be able to erase all the key codes from the vehicle and start from scratch with no keys (people lose their keys all the time) but they will need to remove the dummy transponder.

    If you want 2 physical keys, and the remote start to work, the dealer will have to technically program 3 keys, the 2 physical keys, plus reinstall the dummy transponder then program it. To ensure the dummy transponder programs, often a regular non transponder blank key will be cut just to turn the ignition for programming.

  • avatar
    ott

    You should not need both keys to program your new key at all. Think about it… what would happen if you lost both your keys and needed new ones made? “Sorry sir, you’re going to have to find both original keys for your car before we can cut and program a spare one for you…”

    I think they mean that all keys which will be used to operate the car (in this case ONE original and one new one) have to be present at coding, as they will both have to be re-coded in the same programming procedure. Same goes for programming an extra remote for a car, you have to let the car “re-learn” both the original remote (if you had one) and the new one.

    The cheaper option is to just cut a few spare keys at your local autoparts store and use one in case you lock your keys in your car, or disconnect the autostart and reclaim the other original key…

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No, if you lose ALL the keys you are screwed. You get to buy new keys AND a new anti-theft computer for $$$$. Saabs have been the same way for 20 years, and many cars are like this now. Always have more than one key!

      The reason it works this way is you need one key to allow the system to get into programming mode, then the rest of the keys can be added.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m not sure about Saab, but most other manufacturers have a function in their scan tools to program new keys when none are available. For example, Ford has a 10 minute security access period where once entered, can program new keys from scratch.

        Some other manufacturers use a coded security access. A code is generated and given by the manufacturer to access the key programming feature in the control modules and program new keys.

        In the case of this Saturn, unless the dealer doesnt have the tool available to gain security access, they should be able to program keys from scratch. They may have asked him to bring all his keys because if you have all programmed keys, the process is much easier and quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “The cheaper option is to just cut a few spare keys at your local autoparts store and use one in case you lock your keys in your car, or disconnect the autostart and reclaim the other original key…”

      The thing you have to be careful about is using one of those door-only keys in the ignition, as convenience/laziness will cause people to do. I heard, not sure if it’s true, that the spare wallet key that Infiniti provides for being locked out will short out your ignition if you try to crank with it. Anyone know if that’s an urban legend?

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        So do you really think that Nissan/Infiniti would actually provide you with a key, that unlocks the doors and fits in the ignition, but if put in the ignition will actually short it out?? Doesn’t really pass the common sense test now does it.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        You’re right that it doesn’t make that much sense, but I thought my wallet key might have even said that as a warning, and that’s where I got the idea. Sold the car last year, so I don’t have the wallet key any more to check.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      ‘The cheaper option is to just cut a few spare keys at your local autoparts store and use one in case you lock your keys in your car, or disconnect the autostart and reclaim the other original key…”

      Nice idea, but it simply won’t work with this car. As mentioned before, this traveled from the Belgian Opel plant directly to the States without changing a thing to the electrical system. The keys are special Fobs with specific chips that were shipped with the car. You will not find them at your local AutoZone or PepBoys. Until the arrival of the Cruze, which has many properties of the ’08 Astra, you couldn’t find a spare at the GM dealerships, unless they were a former Saturn dealer.

      The days of the simple solution, I’m afraid, are long over.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “You should not need both keys to program your new key at all. Think about it… what would happen if you lost both your keys and needed new ones made?”

      With some vehicles it’s just a lot easier if you have two. My Mazda3, for example, allows me to easily program my own extra keys as long as I have two. If I only have one, the dealership has to hook up the computer to do it.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The “programmed” key seems to show up all over the place. If you’re buying a used car, motorcycle or even scooter, ask the seller if the key is programmed to the vehicle, and if the seller has both keys.

    Even a Piaggio scooter from 2006 (related to Vespa) I bought had that situation. There’s a red master key that you need to program any spares. RF chips are built into keys these days. The nearby Home Depot claims they can cut chipped keys, but you’ll have to check owners manuals to see what’s up. It’s really added yet another “caveat emptor” to the used car/motorcycle/scooter buying process that our dads didn’t have to think about.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I once had a visiting nephew play with my TV remote, a third party learning device. He thought it would be fun to learn the code from my car key (1990 BMW 535). Then he used the TV remote to lock my car and was delighted that it worked. Unfortunately they are rolling codes so neither the remote nor the keys would unlock the car. Required a trip to the dealer!

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      That doesn’t sound right to me. TV remotes use IR light, so they cannot possibly lock/unlock your car.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Actually, BMWs of that era had two different keyless entry systems, one IR and one RF (Alpine, some of which were dealer-installed), so this is definitely possible:

        forums.bimmerforums dot com/forum/showthread.php?t=1142294

        Didn’t Jeeps also use IR? I remember my friends with Cherokees had to point it at the beacon.

      • 0 avatar
        dvdlgh

        I had a satellite TV system remote that used RF. Spike_in_Brisbane did say third party remote.

      • 0 avatar
        halkyardo

        I had a late ’80s Citroën BX whose factory remote locking used IR – I believe that the system was developed by Valeo and used on other European cars, too.

        As implemented on the BX, it was a stupid system – line-of-sight only, and even then, the sensor was built into the overhead map light assembly in such a way that it was impossible to operate it from the front. Given that I tend to reverse into parking spaces, it was not a whole lot of use to me.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Actually the remote-start bypasses the transponder system with use of the spare working key. Once the car is started remotely, wouldn’t a dumby key work if you’re only unlocking the steering column/shifter on a running car?

    I bought a bypass box from a parts store that’s designed for a remote-start, in case I lose one of my (F-150) transponder keys. I’d rather bypass the whole mess than deal with the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Actually the remote-start bypasses the transponder system with use of the spare working key. Once the car is started remotely, wouldn’t a dumby key work if you’re only unlocking the steering column/shifter on a running car?”

      Yes it would. As long as the non transponder key was cut to the cyldinder, the transceiver will always read the hidden transponder on each key cycle.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    By the way, the cheapest way to do this might be to buy a key off Ebay, get it cut somewhere cheap (hardware store, Vatozone), and then go to the dealer solely to get it programmed for the ignition. However, it still requires pulling the key from the steering column.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Re: fried computer unit, then why does GM not provide its dealers with the proper diagnostic tools for evaluating such problems, still staying away from GM. Had lots of GM products in my lifetime, loved them all, until they started putting sophisticated electronics in their cars, then it all went to pot.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Every manufacturer has this issue, so what electronics-less car do you buy nowadays?

    • 0 avatar
      SqueakyVue

      Seriously? While the PassLock system is only good on paper just about every car uses some type of “sophisticated electronics” to keep their cars from being stolen. My friends 2012 frontier required a master key to be buried in the dash in order to install an aftermarket remote start. I have owned nothing but GM’s for the past 15 years and have paid dearly for it. After the bad hubs, faulty valve cover gaskets and several other wind noise and front end suspension nightmares. The last reason I would stop buying GM is the passlock system.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      GM most certainly does make diagnostic tools and information available to their techs to diagnose these types of issues. The problem is, as it is with all shops on flat rate, is the techs think they can bypass diagnostics by just pounding a new module in.

      When the module doesn’t fix it, they try and return it.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Urban legend… I’ve had it happen before on my Infiniti, cranking with the “door key” does nothing. Won’t start, but also no damage to the electronics either.

  • avatar
    sbunny8

    It seems to me that if you’re planning to hide a programmed transponder key inside the column right up next to the antenna, you don’t need for your actual working keys to have transponders at all, let alone program them. Maybe I’m missing something here. Just get a couple $3 plain metal duplicates of the one programmed transponder key you already have (the one which you’ve been using to start the car) and then put the transponder key inside the column and use the $3 keys to turn the ignition lock.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Well, this is what happens when an “Orphan Car” is bought. All the “enthusiasts” recommended the Saturn ‘Opel’ because it’s “fun”.

    Look how much “fun” it is getting parts! Not worth the hassle, and there are planty of fun cars that won’t cost an ‘arm & leg’ to keep running.

    Buyer beware!

    Next will be the guy, who’s lady-friend bought a Galant since it was “fun”, complaining about how much parts cost, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      You are a little harsh here. This “problem” would affect pretty much any GM car with the passkey system. Nothing to do with an orphan brand. And it isn’t hard to get parts, the guy has to drive 20 miles to the nearest GM dealer, that is hardly difficult, and since GM dealers are as common as 7-11′s, this speaks more to where the guy lives than a bad choice of brands. It isn’t like a Mini, where some people live hundreds of miles away. And any GM car would require the same trip in the same scenario.

      Oh, and Galants haven’t been fun since the VR4 stopped being imported in like 1992.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “Maybe start with a Cadillac dealer?”

    They’ll charge an Arm, leg and set of teeth to even look at the thing. You’ll be lucky to find a Chevy dealer to do it, without pressuring to buy a new car. “Well, you know, it will be harder to get parts…may as well buy a new Sonic….want your daughter to be safe?”

    Don’t mean to pile on the guy, but I am really faulting the “car nuts” that advised him to buy this future money pit car. Sometimes you have to get the safe, reliable choice and not the “fun” car.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    From my little experience…

    1) He should be able to have it programmed at ANY GM dealer.

    2) I may be wrong, but I don’t recall needing all keys to have it programmed. He may even show up with no keys at all.

    3) He doesn’t specify if he had done the blade, the remote or the whole assembly. The immobilizer chip is in the remote, the blade is just a dumb piece of metal with some fancy cuts. From the OP I infer it was the whole thing.

    My advice to him would be: go to any GM dealer, better yet if it’s a “friendly” one, get all your property/registration/bill of sale paperwork with you and explain to them that you lost all your keys and had the one he has done etc… They should be able to fix his problem.

    • 0 avatar
      MRL325i

      OP here. Before I started this whole discussion, I called my nearest GM dealer (Chevy) and told them I had this car, that I had a spare cut but programmed key and that the remote start was installed so there was another key inside the dash. She told me that they would need all off the keys, but she seemed unsure enough that I thought a shoutout to TTAC and the collected wisdom of all might answer this question definitively.

      Basically, there is no convergence of opinion, so I am going to bite the bullet and remove the hidden key and get this taken care of once and for all.

      Thanks, all!

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Hi Mr OP.

        I did a further investigation on the problem. There’s no need to pull the embedded key from the column. The dealer should be able to make the car learn the new one.

        That is, provided the previous owner didn’t have other copies made and programmed, in which case… it’s all the keys time.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Wow I never heard of that “hidden key” thing. Strange too, the only remote starter I ever had was for a 2001 Toyota Celica, which has a coded key. The remote start was completely aftermarket, not dealer installed, was a Viper IIRC. It worked flawlessly, never had one issue with it. I am now surprised it worked since the Toyota also required a coded key to start the car.

    But really… a 20 mile trip isn’t THAT big a deal. I drive 20 miles to work every day. It isn’t like a 200 mile drive or whatever.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Really nice car in the photo and your daughter looks happy!!! Thats the most important thing!
    Smiles like that never come easy..or cheap!
    She will be a future BMW owner,I hope.

    • 0 avatar
      MRL325i

      It is, and she is! Thanks! This car reminds me a bit of the old E36 318ti — the 4 cylinder hatch. Fun and tossable. Unlike any other GM car I have driven/ridden in. And, she is happy enough with it that she never mentions driving my BMWs anymore.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I just went through the new key thing on my son’s 2012 Impala. He bought the car used and it only had one key. It was no big deal; I bought the key at an ACE hardware store, they cut it and then put it in the ignition switch and turned it to the on position. Within a few seconds the new key was programmed and the car started, no problem, no trip to a dealership, etc. I think the key cost about $69. Can’t speak to a Saturn Astra/Opel but the Impala is definately not a “typical GM problem.”

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      While $69 for a key is a bit high, the reason you didn’t have a problem is because you had the original key, which is then used to program the new key. If I understand correctly, the OP doesn’t have the original key so he basically needs to buy a new one from scratch as if it was lost. That requires a trip to the dealer to have it coded, as it would with any GM car and pretty much almost any brand of car these days as well. My 2001 Toyota needs coding and its ancient by electronics standards.

      • 0 avatar
        MRL325i

        The OP (me) has the original keys: one is used on a regular basis to drive the car, while the other is up under the dash to facilitate the use of the remote start. The whole point of my post is this: I have a new, cut-but-unprogrammed key, and, apparently, the only way to program is it to bring the car and and keys to a GM dealer and have them do it, but it seems I first have to fish out the dashbound key, as they (again, apparently) need all of the keys in order to program them. The new key can not be programmed with the more typical insert-key-twist-remove-insert-new-key-twist…

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Ah I see, so I misunderstood somewhat. However, I still think the problem you are encountering has nothing to do with this being a orphaned Saturn or an Opel product, this is the same behavior for any GM car using that version of PassKey. All the keys have to be programmed at the same time. And I do not think it requires a trip to the dealer. Since you have the original key you can reprogram them all on your own, repeat the process 3 times. You should only have to go to the dealer if you don’t have any original programmed keys.

      • 0 avatar
        MRL325i

        You are still missing the point. “Orphan” refers to the original thread that was started by Steve from my email:

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/new-or-used-not-all-orphans-are-created-equal/

        You are correct — it has nothing to do with this discussion.

        ” Since you have the original key you can reprogram them all on your own, repeat the process 3 times. You should only have to go to the dealer if you don’t have any original programmed”

        Not on this car.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Not missing the point, I just saw a few posts blaming this “problem” on buying an orphaned brand. I think you agree that is not the issue. But it is an annoyance to have to get it programmed at the dealer. I have the same issue with my VW. Maybe it is more of a Euro thing?

      • 0 avatar
        MRL325i

        “Maybe it is more of a Euro thing?”

        Evidently.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        “While $69 for a key is a bit high”

        The stealership wanted $125 for the key and the magic “turn-on-turn-off” programming steps. The cheapest that I found was $65 at a locksmith; that being the case I was OK with the $69.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Hey controllio, you’re going to love this, a neighbor of mine bought a brand new Buick, took it to Home Depot to shop, locked the car and when he came back, the car would not open, he took a cab home and brought the second key, still nothing, could not have the car towed because the wheels were locked, OK, so at great expense, had the car lifted on a truck and brought to the dealer, there, surprise, the doors opened immediately and the car started.

    Looks like GM has software problems, and their software must be linked to a GPS system, otherwise do you have an explanation I can give my neighbor.

    Another good reason to avoid GM and Nissan vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      While I fully appreciate your anti GM bias, seeing how this is TTAC and all, but your story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, seeing how a brand new Buick would have been equipped with OnStar. One call would have had the car unlocked from outer space in seconds.

      There are also no wheel immobilizers on any Buick vehicles, they exist only in your imagination to supplement your made up story of GM woe and anguish.

      Also, you don’t need to explain the problems your neighbor his having with his Buick to him or her, GM does.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Yeah, your facts don’t add up, kitzler. It’s one thing to complain about a tech whom you didn’t like, and yet another to make up stuff. Your anecdote is laughable.

      For example, It’s trivial to find a tow truck to move a FWD vehicle — ask a repo man. Most of them are good at moving AWD ones too. Furthermore, a new Buick has roadside assistance for 6 years/70K, so no need to pay out of pocket at any expense for the tow. Also, as grzydj mentioned, OnStar could fix the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        My uncle owns a Caddy with OnStar. It seems like a good system, but don’t you need to be inside the car in order to activate it? I thought the guy in the story was locked out of his Buick. Did the owner of the Buick already have a copy of the phone number for OnStar customer support in his wallet or programmed into the address book of his cellphone (if these items weren’t also locked away in the Buick)?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        No, you can get OnStar to remote unlock you if you lock your keys in. The story doesn’t really add up anyway — again, Buicks have roadside assistance — 24/7. Even if the owner didn’t have the number handy, someone in the Home Depot parking lot probably had a smartphone to look up OnStar.

        http://www.buick.com/owners/warranty.html

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        Okay, dead horse punishment time. It didn’t sound as though the Buick’s owner had locked his key(s) in the car, but rather that the doors would not unlock due to some type of error/defect. It’s a good feature that OnStar owners can have their doors unlocked remotely in case of emergency by calling customer service, but how does that process work exactly? That is to say, if I were to call them, claiming that I’m locked out of my car, how would they know whether I’m the actual owner or not? Is there some type of special password, or something that you have to arrange ahead of time in order to prove that you’re not just some guy hoping to steal someone else’s new Buick?

  • avatar
    kitzler

    grzydj, sorry I aroused such repressed anger in you, but whether buick does not immobilize its wheels or not is not moot, my neighbor’s four wheels were frozen and the Buick could not be towed but had to be lifted on a Jerr-Dan truck bed.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      What kind of Buick was it? Did it have AWD, like a Buick Enclave would? If so that could be why the wheels were “locked” as you described them.

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about with repressed anger, but then again, I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about either.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I’m sure it was just dragged on to the flatbed although a floor jack or wheel dollies might have been used. It’s likely a bad connection that he’ll see again as the ride to the dealer just shook things up.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        I’m no expert on cars in general (and even possess even less knowledge when the subject turns specifically to Buicks), but wouldn’t placing the transaxle in Park on a front drive vehicle and then activating the emergency brake basically keep both the front and rear wheels from rolling, or, as you put it, effectively act as an “immobilizer”?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It would be hilarious if that was what caused kitzler’s complaint.

        But usually tow truck drivers will slim jim the car to release the parking brake in that situation.

  • avatar
    none_given

    Ok, please don’t shout at me, because this may sound like blind optimism..

    I don’t know how the whole key in the steering binnacle thing works, but it sounds to the uneducated like the connection between the steering lock barrel and the ECU has been rerouted to that hidden key, as I cannot believe that the guy installing the remote start would set up a circuit that says: “if the remote starter is used, use the transponder in the hidden key, if a key is used for starting, use the transponder in the key in the barrel”.

    Basically, try using the cut key, it may work without coding, because the transponder in the hidden key is being read whenever the car is started, even if you use a key to fire ‘er up.

    I could be wrong :)

    Edit: Just read the comment above about the remote not working. It’s 1AM over here, had a couple of beers…

    • 0 avatar
      MRL325i

      Your theory sounds quite reasonable, but it does not work. If I start the car with the remote start, I can put the unprogrammed key in and drive the car, so, it is reading the code from the embedded key. However, if I shut the car off and remove the key, I cannot restart it with the key — I have to use the programmed key. Crazy, I know. It is off to the dealer…

      • 0 avatar
        none_given

        Ach, worth a try :) Sounds like the installer put in a relay to switch over the transponder circuit to the hidden key when the remote start is activated, and didn’t just brutally hack apart the loom. I expected the second option, having seen quite a few crappy alarm installations in second-hand cars down the years.


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