Caddy Won't Start? Check the VATS

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hi Bob,
I've owned a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood since it was new. A couple of years after I bought the car I went to start it and it just cranked. Very energetically but that's all. It was late in the day so I waited till the next morning and was about to call the dealer and be towed when I thought I'd try to start it again. It started fine.

No further occurrence till this past summer. I was about to return from vacation in North Carolina when the same thing happened. I called for a tow and was told I'd have to wait for about two hours. After waiting I went to the car and tried a spare key and it started fine. In each of these occasions I bought it to the Cadillac dealer and he was unable to find anything wrong. It has happened twice since then. Each time I have waited about twenty to thirty minutes and used a spare key and it started. The reason I did that was because a friend said that he suspected a problem with the "chip" in the key I was using. Once the car started each time I had the problem I drove to my destination and then when I went to restart the car I used the original key without any problem.

Have you ever heard of this problem? Have you any suggestions? Any help will be greatly appreciated. The last time it wouldn't start it was supposed to be driven off the auto-train in Florida. Very embarrassing to say the least.

Yup, I have heard of this problem, but not on Caddys. I have heard of this on big Buicks. The problem is in the VATS system. You see, the computer and the keys are coded together. The car won't start unless the key has the correct electronic signature. Sometimes the computer gets confused... and switching to the spare key, which has a different code, will correct the system. Try getting a spare key made up for that car. The key will turn, and the doors will unlock, but the engine will not start. You have to go to the dealer to get a spare key and they have to program it into the car's memory as a valid key... my only suggestion is to try and get a third key (I think they can handle 4) and keep it on the ring with the original.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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