Auto Locksmith


All our locksmiths are licensed by the state NC.  We are insured and bonded.  Call to make an Appointment. 

  • Unlock Autos

  • Replace Lost Keys for Autos and Motorcycle

  • Extract Broken Keys

  • Make VATS Keys (scroll down for definition)

  • Make Transpoder ?chip? Keys (scroll down for definition)

  • Replace and Fix Ignition Locks

  • Service Door Locks

  • Re-Key Autos

  • Please call if you need something that was not mentioned   

  • Understanding GM VATS (PassKey)

    This system seems to cause much confusion, stress, and misery.  Hopefully, this will help elevate some of that.  VATS stands for Vehicle Anti-Theft System. It is commonly referred to as PassKey.  Later versions include PassKeyII, PassKeyIII and PassLock (which uses no resistor “pellet”).  GM first introduced VATS in 1985 on the Chevrolet Corvette, and after proving successful, was later introduced in other models in later years.  Lets break it down even further:

    Operation: Operation is fairly simple, but lets discuss what all makes up the PassKey system.  The most obvious part is the key.  The ignition key as a little “chip” in it.  This is a resistor “pellet”.  There are 15 possible resistances, therefore 15 different types of keys each with a different resistance.  This reduces the likelihood of a potential thief from having the correct resistance resistor on hand.  Then you have to have a special lock cylinder to “read” the key.  I use the term “read” loosely, because it does anything but read the key.  I will explain more later.  Next is the VATS module.  It does most of the security work.  It is the “brains” of the system.  The module is what actually “reads” the resistance, but has to do it via the contacts in the lock cylinder and the related wiring.  Think of the module as a Multimeter, and the wires and contacts the Multimeter Leads.  The module reads the resistance and determines if the resistance is the correct value.  The module will go into several modes, depending on what the module sees.  There is “Tamper” “Normal” and “Fail Enable”.

    Normal: Normal is when the correct resistance is seen during cranking and the module will ground the Start enable relay, and send a “Fuel Enable” signal to the ECM.  This basically “turns on” the injectors.  If the Fuel Enable signal is lost or not sent, the injectors will never pulse.  The signal is a unique “Pulse Width Modulated” signal, which is a series of rapidly switched “on” and “off” voltages that would be near impossible to duplicate. Once the relay is grounded, voltage is allowed to the “S” terminal of the starter, and the ECM is told to pulse the injectors and the car starts.

    Tamper: This mode happens when the vehicle is cranked, and the resistance value as seen by the module is not the same as the value stored in the module. When this happens, the module shuts down for 4 minutes.  Even if the correct resistance is then seen, the car will not start for the 4 minute “time-out”.  The security light will also illuminate for the 4 minutes.  The Start Enable Relay will not energize and the Fuel Enable signal will not be sent. HINT: if the key pellet is dirty, it will put the module in the “Tamper” mode.  If your car fails to crank/start and the security light comes on, try cleaning the pellet, wait 4 minutes, and try again.

    Fail Enable: This mode is to help keep the motorist with the right key from being stranded.  If a failure happens to the PassKey system AFTER a valid start, this mode is initiated.  It allows the vehicle to be restarted, even with a failure present.  The security light will remain illuminated to let you know a failure is present. However, this also means that the car can be started w/o a key, and is vulnerable to potential thieves.


    What is a transponder key?

    A transponder is short for: transmitter + responder.

    The word came into use around 1944. In basic terms a transponder is a miniaturized electronic chip that has what is called nonvolatile memory. Nonvolatile memory is the type of memory that does not need constant energy for retention. Along with that electronic chip is a set of windings, very fine wire coiled around a tube. These windings look similar to the windings you would find in a electric motor.

    There are two basic types of transponders. The first are the Electric Coupled Transponder systems. Electric coupled transponder systems are not limited to small areas for transmission but can transmit messages or signals for different ranges of distance including several inches to miles, as used in Satellites and Airplanes. These systems require large amounts of constant electricity to operate.

    The second type is what automobile manufacturer?s are using and they are called Magnetic Coupled Transponder systems. Magnetic Coupled Transponder systems are passive in nature. This means they do not require constant electricity and thus do not need a power source of their own. They operate in the frequency range area of 125KHz. Since Magnetic Coupled Transponders do not have their own power source they are very limited to range of communication and generally operate in the range of 1cm to 15cm. Since this is a radio frequency it can penetrate materials that would make the transponder not directly visible, such as the plastic or rubber in the bow of a key.

    The process of key identification is similar in most automotive transponder systems. Once a key is inserted into the ignition lock and turned to one of the ?on? or ?run? positions, the induction coil that is mounted around the ignition lock sends out an electromagnet field of energy. The windings in the transponder chip absorb that energy and power the electronic chip to emit a signal. The signal is usually an alphanumeric set of digits which is considered the Identification Code. The induction coil reads the signal and sends it to some type of computer device to recognize the signal. If the signal is recognized as being already in the computer?s memory the signal is accepted and other electronic components in the vehicle are set into motion to allow the starting of the vehicle or the continuation of the engine running.

    Transponders can be made into several different shapes and sizes and can be used in many different types of applications such as: warehouse pallets, retail clothing, animal management, and of course electronic automobile key identification.