Question about 1994 Buick Park Avenue

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When you disconnect the battery, the car will not start

I was told I needed a new ignition by the AAA locksmith -- that the chip was not being read and the value being sent to the VATS system to tell the computer to let it start. It starts and runs for about a second and then dies. There is fuel pressure, it's not the pump. It runs, but only for about a second and then shuts down. My mechanic checked the ground on the VATS system (Vehicle Anti Theft System module up behind the glovebox) and it was getting the right value from the ingnition key. I even had the ignition CHANGED, but that wasn't it. Then he cleaned the grounding of the VATS system on the engine itself (just below the ECModule with the ignition coils on top) and somehow it did start again. It started fine for a few weeks until I made the mistake of disconnecting the battery terminal to clear some codes on the EGR. Then it was 'stuck on stupid' again and refuses to start. It again runs for a second and then dies. As if the computer is not enabling the run mode. The mechanic could not duplicate whatever he did before to get it to start again. He got dumb luckey the first time? The mechanic thinks it is a bad computer and wants me to change that out (with a replacement from a salvage yard, on a budget). I think it is something stupid simple that no one I have found yet knows about. Help! Who is it that has seen this before and knows how to fix it? I would appreciate knowing the secret, if there is one.

There is a SECOND problem where it will die on me when I hit heavy traffic on the freeway. The mechanic suspects the EGR and we did have a code for the pindle on the EGR. But that doesn't affect it being unable to start now. Someone suggested that the chip in the ECM might be overheating and causing a shutdown at higher temps. The mechanic thinks it is classic EGR symptoms.

When we somehow got it to start again, after the mechanic checked the grounding of the VATS, it ran just fine for a few weeks. As soon as we disconnected the battery it was stuck on stupid again and refuses to start. Is there a procedure to help the computer re-learn or should I go ahead and replace the computer? What is the trick here? Thank you for your help.

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I finally found someone who knew what to do. Apparently the VATS lost its memory of what is the right value that it then compares to the value that is read on the ignition key resistor chip. Not knowing what to compare it to, it goes into security mode and will not enable starting. So the VATS module has to be reprogrammed or it has to re-learn the value that it needs to have. Sometimes when you disconnect the battery, that is why the VATS loses its memory. The trick is this: you can sometimes help the VATS to re-learn the value by turning the key to an 'on' position, waiting ten minutes, then turning the key off. You do this THREE TIMES. That will take you a half hour. What car theif would be that patient, right? Then on the forth time you turn it all the way to start and it should go. If that doesn't work, you have to take it to a dealer who can download a program and re-program the VATS. But if you are luckey, you can do it yourself this way. You would think that they would tell you this in the owner's manuel, wouldn't you? If this helps someone else, let me know. I played hell learning the lesson.

Posted on May 13, 2009


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