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The Last Vats Post?

This is a discussion on The Last Vats Post? within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; I think I need to spell this out, OH MY GOD! I just bought a 1999 Firebird/TA and I've had ...

  1. #1
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    The Last Vats Post?

    I think I need to spell this out, OH MY GOD!
    I just bought a 1999 Firebird/TA and I've had my first experience with this Vats problem. There are so many threads (years) on this I am sure the mods are sick of talking about it because I know I'm already sick of reading about it. Two days in and I feel my head is going to explode and almost wish I had not made this purchase.
    It seems to me for a problem that has gone on for two decades or more there could be some comprehensive article or something. Maybe someone should write a book; seriously, is there a book? So many threads over so many years makes it hard to tell what is the latest and greatest.
    I do appreciate the good information about the resistor hack but my key looks brand new, the resistor reads about 12 k-ohm, and it reads the same at the plug, so what do I do next? It seems there's a lot of different variations to the different models and I'm sure that complicates troubleshooting them. I don't understand about the "security" light, you know when does it flash, when does it not flash, when does it stay on, what does it mean. I also have a little red light on top of my Dash that I thought was part of the aftermarket system that I found some remnants of and removed. I literally destroyed the top dash panel only to verify it is part of the factory set up, or at least appears to be.
    The car started repeatedly during two visits and test drives at the dealership and then also on a 3-hour drive home with multiple stops. But when I got to my driveway and I was ready to show it off, she wouldn't restart and that was my first experience. It just turned over, no spark or fuel, not sure which. I found the old security system wiring and cleaned it up, got rid of any damaged or loose abandoned connections. Then when done it started right up and I thought I had it fixed. Then it did it again right away. After destroying my Dash looking for an old aftermarket brain, it did start right up twenty minutes later. Since then it has abandoned me one more time. I am afraid to drive it now because I do not want to end up having to tow it anywhere. I'm not sure I can always count on it starting up eventually.

    Is there some comprehensive troubleshooting guide for this product? Service manual?
    Any help is greatly appreciated.
    Maybe this could become "The Last Vats Post"

  2. #2
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    It could possible be in the key ignition switch itself.

    My 96 FB had a similar issue, drove me bat shit crazy. I finally pulled the steering wheel off and looked at the key cylinder and behold one wire had literally 2 strands of wire still attached to the contact point. I re-solder it and it ran fine from there on out. It's a tricky and a PITA to get too but ppl forget that those contact points have wires that go to them and can go bad over age.

    I'm not saying this is it in your case, just giving you an idea to check that too.

  3. #3
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    The VATS system controls both the starter relay and the fuel enable command (pump and injectors I believe) circuits. If the starter turns over, that would lead me to think the problem is not with the VATS. Can you hear the fuel pump run when the key is first turned on or checked for fuel pressure?

    Go to this site and download a copy of the 1999 service manual. If you open it up with an Acrobat Reader program, you can use the bookmarks to search the file.

  4. #4
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterPar View Post
    The VATS system controls both the starter relay and the fuel enable command (pump and injectors I believe) circuits. If the starter turns over, that would lead me to think the problem is not with the VATS. Can you hear the fuel pump run when the key is first turned on or checked for fuel pressure?

    Go to this site and download a copy of the 1999 service manual. If you open it up with an Acrobat Reader program, you can use the bookmarks to search the file.
    That's a good question on the fuel pump. Turn the key on, no start you should hear the fuel pump.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator pajeff02's Avatar
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    Agree. Sounds like a non-VATS issue. To familiarize yourself with the sound (since it is a new to you car) energize the ignition with the door closed (to prevent chime) and the window down. You should hear the fuel pump engage and prime the system. Assuming it worked, now listen for the pump to engage each time you start the car by slowly clicking the key from OFF to ACC to ON to START. If in fact you do not hear the pump engage and the car does not start, access the underhood electrical panel and swap out the fuel pump relay with a similar relay to see if this fixes the issue. If the relay swap does not sure the issue, then it's time to check your fuel pressure as the pump could be on its way out. Generally, a pump that is acting up will show less than 58 psi and the engine may crank longer before starting.

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    Thanks all.
    I am sure there was some noticeable frustration there.
    Will get that service manual.
    I noticed some posts mentioned a starter lockout but it seemed maybe there was a variety of ways that the diff systems worked.
    If it all ways locks it out that is very useful info.
    The car all ways starts right up when it starts and have never noticed any fuel demand kind of problems and I did drive a few hours on some country roads getting home. I guess I could pickup a fuel pressure gauge.
    When the vats does lock you out what is the status of the sec light or dash light? Is there any difinitive indication that you are timed out?
    Like I said I got a good R reading at the plug for the key, even when turning and jossling it around.
    And if the starter is all ways locked out I guess I can take that off the list.
    Thanks again

  7. #7
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    Thanks for link

    Wow, lots of info here.
    Thanks so much for that.

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