Vats Bypass Adaptors

The VATS-operated security system uses a modified ignition lock and key with a resistance pellet mounted into the shoulder.


VATS and PASSKey I/II, one of the pioneer anti-theft systems, is slowly coming to its end. For the 2005 model year, only one General Motors vehicle, the Buick Century, will be equipped with the resistor pellet in the key-based anti-theft system. That is for the non-fleet sales of General Motors...


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As an alternative, a locksmith could purchase a VATS ignition lock and one of each resistor pellet value key blanks. The single-side VATS ignition lock could be the STRATTEC 700754 or 701285. This VATS ignition lock would be connected at the base of the steering column, and the 14 or 15 key blanks would provide the resistance values.

To test the system, a key must be cut to the key code. Using a VATS key blank would be expensive as the correct key could be one of 14. A "test" key blank was developed that allowed a VATS-equipped ignition lock to be mechanically operated. (A standard key blank blade was not long enough to completely enter the keyway). The test key blanks for the single-sided VATS equipped vehicles are the Barnes B62A, Ilco P1098AV, Ilco EZ B62, Jet B62-NP, and STRATTEC 321631. For the double-sided ignition locks, any double-sided metal headed car key blank could be used. The test key blanks for the double-sided VATS-equipped vehicles are the Barnes B86, Ilco P1106, Ilco EZ B86, Jet B86-NP, and STRATTEC 322465. The resistance values are the same for the single- and double-sided keys.

These methods worked pretty well until the 1990 model year, when General Motors introduced the 48- pin connector on two of their "C" - body cars. The 48-pin connector replaced several smaller connectors attaching the steering column wiring to the vehicle wiring harness. The VATS ignition wires mounted into locations 12 and 13 in the 48-pin connector. On these vehicles, only the air bag restraint system power wires are a separate connector. The cars equipped with VATS also required a special ignition lock using copper clips instead of the black plastic connector.

The use of the 48-pin connector expanded onto more models of 1991 General Motors cars, the Buick Riviera, Buick Park Avenue, Buick Park Avenue Ultra, Cadillac Deville, and Oldsmobile 98. This expanded use continued to 1995, when General Motors introduced the double-sided lock mechanism.

For the 1995 model year, the double-sided VATS-equipped small bow key was introduced onto the Oldsmobile Aurora and the Buick Riviera. Then, for the 1997 model year, General Motors introduced the large bow double-sided VATS-equipped key onto the Chevrolet Corvette. No additional models were introduced with VATS.

To interrogate a vehicle equipped with the 48-pin connector, there were two options. The first was to purchase a special adapter that was placed between the two halves of a separated 48-pin connector. As an alternative, VATS interrogator and decoder manufacturers have developed methods to determine the resistance value using a tool that enters the keyway and makes a connection with the two contacts in the keyway of the ignition lock. This method alleviates the need of the adapter and to separate the two halves of the 48-pin connector.

For this article, we will discuss two alternative tools that can be used in the interrogation process for cars equipped with the 48-pin connector. Both of these tools eliminate the need to disconnect the VATS 48-pin connector in order to make the electrical connection.

STRATTEC's Adapter Keys are plastic key blanks that have two metal rods extending from the sides of the blade above the key bow. Part numbers are 595872 (single-sided) and 597279 (double-sided). When a STRATTEC Adapter Key is cut to the key code and inserted into the keyway of the ignition lock, the metal rods touch the contacts in the ignition lock, and the rods extend from the key bow enough to attach to a connector from an interrogator or a second VATS ignition lock. In this condition, the system can be interrogated.

The Tech-Train TT-4002 VATS ByPass Adaptor is designed to work in conjunction with a metal head key. It has a standard VATS connector on one end of the wire and two insulated conductive plates that are about the size of a key bow with two projections on the other. The metal head "test" key is cut to the key code. The key is inserted into the adaptor with the projections in the same direction as the key blade. The key/adaptor is inserted into the ignition lock. The two projections touch the contacts in the ignition lock. The connector is then attached to an interrogator or a second VATS ignition lock, and the system can be interrogated.

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