Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS Keys)

VATS stands for Vehicle Anti Theft System. Lots of people refer to this type of key, as a ” computer Chip key”. This key or “Chip” has nothing to do with a computer, nor is it a chip. But because of the popularity of calling it a computer chip key, so will we. So that we don’t confuse. The black chip on the blade of the key is actually a resister. GM first started using the Vats key in 1986 on the Corvettes, then some of the Cadillac’s, etc. GM uses 15 different resistors in their vats keys. Just looking at the keys you can’t tell the difference.

How does the Vats System work?

Each vats key has its own unique cuts on the key to operate the lock. But the cuts alone will not allow the car to crank. This is called a mechanical key. Each car has a Vats module (Brain) under the dash that communicates to the starter, fuel pump, and the ignition lock. Each vats module is randomly given a # (value) from the manufacturer. When the proper mechanical keys, with the proper vats chip (resistor value) turns the ignition lock, the vats module reads the chip on the key. If it is the correct chip, the vats module will tell the starter and the fuel pump to operate. If the wrong chip is read, the vats module will tell starter and the fuel pump to shut down.

VATS (Vehicle Anti Theft System) was introduced by GM on the 1986 Corvette because the Corvette had become the number one target for car thieves. Corvette thefts dropped so impressively after VATS was implemented that GM expanded the system in 1988 to the Camaro, Firebird, and Cadillac Seville. VATS was standard equipment on all Cadillac vehicles and on many other Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile vehicles.

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