Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Key Just Quit Working

Every now and then I get a call for locksmith service which brings a smile to my mercenary heart; this morning’s call fit the bill. A regular customer, an auto repair shop over by the airport had a customer’s car in for repairs, “The key just quit working”, was the complaint.

When the call came in I was in the middle of another job; but promised I’d put him next on the list since I was fairly close, only a few miles away. The shop owner told me it was one of those “chip” keys but there was a hole in it. In my mind I pictured one of the older GM VATS/PASS keys, the kind where a resistor pellet was plainly visible in the key blade. From what little information was given over the phone I expected to find the pellet had fallen out and needed a replacement key with the proper resistance pellet; not so as you can see by the photograph.
The customer noticed how the slot which attaches the key to his ring had fractured making it easy for the key to fall off the ring. He’d tried superglue; but didn’t trust the repair so he drilled a new hole in the middle of the plastic to make sure the key stayed on the ring. What he’d failed to take into consideration was the transponder which was hidden inside the head of the key, the transponder which sends an encrypted string of data to the car’s onboard computer which enables the vehicle to start; drilled right through the heart, so to speak.

This was a 2000 Le Sabre which uses the PK3 transponder key and GM programming system. I recently upgraded my programming computer to the T-Code Pro and have been familiarizing myself with a few of the changes from the older version. While in the process of setting up the computer to program I was unable to find Le Sabre under the Buick heading; a mild inconvenience. I thought for a moment, what other GM vehicles used the same system and remembered Chevrolet’s Venture van used the same system; the two computers didn’t care what body style wrapped them; I was now working on a Buick Venture Sedan.

I convinced the shop owner to let me keep the original customer’s key so I could add it to my collection of interesting items. I have a Nissan Altima key which had been customized by a welder; but that’s a whole ‘nother’ story as they say in East Texas.

1 comment:

  1. This can, of course, also be programmed on-board, should the need arise.