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VATS cylinder and/or BCM problem?

This is a discussion on VATS cylinder and/or BCM problem? within the Firebird / WS6 forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; My security light came on in my car and I decided that I better take it in to have it ...

  1. #1
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    Question VATS cylinder and/or BCM problem?

    My security light came on in my car and I decided that I better take it in to have it fixed. When reading up on the problem most stated that the VATS cylinder would need to be replaced along with a corresponding key. I saw various quotes in forums mentioned around $300 so I decided to take the plunge after hearing that some owners had problems with their cars starting.

    After the initial diagnoses the dealer told me it was going to be roughly $500 to replace the BCM including labor. I was like that's not really what I had heard the problem was but just get it done so they ordered the part. I knew in the back of my head this didn't seem right as it seemed the most common problem was a bad VATS.

    The next morning I get a call say the BCM they got was bad and they had to order another one. I'm pretty sure somethings not right at this point.

    Another day later I go to pick up my car to find out they had also replaced the VATS cylinder for another $300 (read I'm pissed) so $800+ for fixing a light.

    I asked if they tried using my old BCM with the new VATS and they stated no because their diagnoses said the BCM was bad. I asked if the car would even run (which it did) with a bad BCM and they said it was simplier then newer cars so it would.

    I told them to give me my old BCM which they did. I payed the ridiculous sum and left, very unhappy.

    They didn't give me back my original key which has the chip to match my old BCM but that's okay because I have a spare. The new keys chip is programed to the new BCM.

    I feel that they *may* of misdiagnosed the problem as it seems weird that the VATS outage common problem it seems on higher mileage cars and BCM would occur at the same time. I'm thinking I should pop my old chip out and put it in the new key and put in my old BCM for kicks to see if I got owned by the dealer? Does this logic seem like it should work to determine if my old BCM is in fact bad? Is there another method to test a BCM?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member justinmc978's Avatar
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    try the easy $5 fix before you pay all that please

    I'm fixing my VATS

    my uploaded videos dont work but you wont need them, everything i needed to know how to fix mine is in there.


    theres also a sticky'd thread somewhere on this forum if you need pictures

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    Question

    Thanks for the reply. I saw the resister method but I didn't want to be stuck on the side of the road. I can deal with paying for the new VAT cylinder as I did but I think I'm getting screwed with the whole BCM replacement and I'm wondering if it's worth trying to put my old one back in to see if it was only the VAT that is was an issue (my opinion) and then take the new one back to the dealer and tell them to give me my money back...

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    Senior Member justinmc978's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atlas01 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I saw the resister method but I didn't want to be stuck on the side of the road. I can deal with paying for the new VAT cylinder as I did but I think I'm getting screwed with the whole BCM replacement and I'm wondering if it's worth trying to put my old one back in to see if it was only the VAT that is was an issue (my opinion) and then take the new one back to the dealer and tell them to give me my money back...
    well, what happens 90% of the time is the ignition cylinder's thin wires break of from years of turning over and over everytime you put your key in to start the car. tell them to replace that and see if it works, then worry about other things. thats why i suggest the 'resistor' method first, because if you do it and it works, then you know your problem is within the ignition cylinder, and you can drive over to the parts store/mechanics to get it replaced for cheaper.

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    Thanks, I thought it was that and told them that but when they were "troubleshooting" they first thought the BCM was bad and replaced it. Then replaced the cylinder. I'm probably going to put old BCM back in and if everything going well than tell them to give me my money back due to their lack of due-diligence.

  6. #6
    Senior Member justinmc978's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atlas01 View Post
    due to their lack of due-diligence.
    i have yet to find a stealership that has any...

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    Member Baluchitherium's Avatar
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    It has a big wing!

    I actually used my spare ignition key in place of resistors...

    I was actually having a hard time finding the correct combo of resistors here locally at a few electrical shops and REALLY needed the car up and running by the end of the weekend.

    The idea just popped into my head that my spare key was already the correct amount of resistance so,I cut the two small white wires coming from the ignition cylinder,connected the end on either side of the key pellet,soldered and electrical taped it. I also left the small plug on the end of the wires so,I basically would just plug the "flux capacitor VATS key" ( as I was calling it ) right into the other plug.

    It worked great!

    Before this of course I had determined that the ignition cylinder WAS the problem by inserting the key into the ignition,then with an OHM meter I started probing the plug with the two small white wires coming from the cylinder.

    If the cylinder was good,I would have had the correct reading from the key pellet.But I didn't.It was indicating no resistance so,I knew that the problem was with the cylinder.Or to be more exact,the small all too delicate little wires coming from the cylinder.

    It's not the "proper" way to do it but,if you are in a pinch it will work and get you on your way... you just need at minimum a spare key,electrical tape,screw driver and something to cut and splice wires...

    This worked for me and I was lucky... Be careful if you attempt to try this especially being that you are working around the air bag!

    That link that Justinmc978 posted was where I got alot of good info from to help understand a little of what I was doing.
    1999 Firehawk Trans Am #530

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    Well the dealer already replaced my BCM and VATS cylinder (which is what I thought the problem was). I'm just wondering if putting my old BCM back in to see if it's functional to determine if the dealer was just flying by the wire on their diagnoses might work. They told me it was bad but I'm wondering if they were both bad how my car was starting and running fine the whole time...

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    misdiagnosed......bcm was never bad. It was in the key cylinder.

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    Senior Member justinmc978's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    misdiagnosed......bcm was never bad. It was in the key cylinder.
    totally agreed honestly; unfortunatly.

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    That's my assumption. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for everyone's time.

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    Auto Painter RyanJM's Avatar
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    BCM's raely go bad. Since I have has several GM cars with more complex electronics like my Caddy and Riveria dd's I have owned in the past and have gone over 200k on both and never had to replace a BCM. Think it was like when my Grad Am GT wouldn't shift itself into OD I took it to the 2 dealers and they couldn't find the problem and I refuse to pay them if they weren't going to fix it just one tried to charge me $300 to giveme my car back still broken and after a long talk with the service manager I got the car from them for nothing but a argument and a headache the second dealer tried the same thing but when I refused to pay they said they wanted to try and fix it rather than send me off to my lawyer's office. All it took was some kid liike 22yrs old fresh out of a tech sckool to ask the older guys if they checked the plug in the center console near the shifter, needless to say that was it. Sad part was is they caused it in my opinion because about 5k before my warranty was up I had them fix the light for the shifter whick would have meant pulling up the center console. Gussing they didn't click it in and after a few thousand miles of local driving and a trip from MA to FL and back knocked it loose. Dealerships are terrible places to go. I actually found a small foreign shop that did warranty work on Honda's and Toyota's so my gf at the time had a place to take her civic when it had an issue. When you go to a dealer you aqlmost have to know what is wrong and tell them that is what you want done and you refuse to pay for anything beyond that until they prove that is not the problem or you'll have a problem like youdid where they just start replacing things. They did that on a 96 Mustang GT I owner. It would blow off the sepantine belt everytime the car passed 5500k so it was warrantied still and they replace all kinds of stupid things, new accesories until one guy looked at a tech sheet and found it was a common problem on the Cobra's that one pulley was the wrong size and they use the same fix on my car only took a week and a new alt and water pump and who knows what else they tried before they figured out it was just the one pulley that was misalingned from the factory and I just had the 1st GT that came in with the issue it was found more in Cobra's. Guess I just drove it too hard. But doen't matter what you own I won't go near a dealer. You vats goes out and you want a new setup mostlocksmiths can order and install it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanJM View Post
    Dealerships are terrible places to go. I actually found a small foreign shop that did warranty work on Honda's and Toyota's so my gf at the time had a place to take her civic when it had an issue. When you go to a dealer you aqlmost have to know what is wrong and tell them that is what you want done and you refuse to pay for anything beyond that until they prove that is not the problem or you'll have a problem like youdid where they just start replacing things. They did that on a 96 Mustang GT I owner. It would blow off the sepantine belt everytime the car passed 5500k so it was warrantied still and they replace all kinds of stupid things, new accesories until one guy looked at a tech sheet and found it was a common problem on the Cobra's that one pulley was the wrong size and they use the same fix on my car only took a week and a new alt and water pump and who knows what else they tried before they figured out it was just the one pulley that was misalingned from the factory and I just had the 1st GT that came in with the issue it was found more in Cobra's. Guess I just drove it too hard. But doen't matter what you own I won't go near a dealer. You vats goes out and you want a new setup mostlocksmiths can order and install it.
    I work at a dealer and of course I resent your remarks. If fixing your car is so damn easy, then why don't you do it yourself. Not every repair is black and white, there's a lot of gray area out there. Everyone is capable of mistakes and overlooking things. And not all dealerships are terrible.

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    I agree, some things I'm not interested in doing myself (like dealing with airbags) so I'll deal with paying out the labor. I tried a local shop but they said it would cost the same and recommend I go to a dealer which I appreciated their honesty. With that said a $500 mistake could be considerable though I won't know until I put the old BCM back in and see if it throws a code. As I mentioned maybe the BCM really is bricked and I just had a bad week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlass View Post
    I work at a dealer and of course I resent your remarks. If fixing your car is so damn easy, then why don't you do it yourself. Not every repair is black and white, there's a lot of gray area out there. Everyone is capable of mistakes and overlooking things. And not all dealerships are terrible.
    agreed....I trouble shoot cars and sometimes you make 2 wrong turns before you make the right one. The difference is I don't pass the charges onto people when I'm guessing at the problem. Dealerships never admit that it was a misdiagnosis and absorb the cost of their error. That's really the only problem I have with it. It's pretty rare if they admit to that and reimburse people their money. If this bcm and key cylinder were properly diagnosed there's no way it would've showed a bad bcm.

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    Moderator Cutlass's Avatar
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    Yeah this is such an easy system to diagnose. makes you wonder why they thought the BCM was bad.

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    They provided me the documentation that provides the troubleshooting steps for the security light because I asked the same question. The writeup says found internal failure in the BCM, but I know they replaced the BCM first, the code was still be thrown after the fact which is why they replaced the VATS, in my opinion. The fact that they didn't put my original BCM is what I'm questioning. Though it could be bad, I'm not sure of what happens if a BCM goes bad typically so I'm obviously going on a hunch...

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