GM ignition switch 10 minute relearn procedure

I see this a lot working on cars GM vehicles equipped with Passlock.  The Hall effect or Passlock sensor inside the lock cylinder housing goes bad intermittently and the Body Control module forgets the code or signal from the sensor and the 10 minute relearn procedure needs to be done in order to get the vehicle started.   We do it all of the time at the shop for our customers.  If the Passlock sensor is good along with the rest of the components, leaving the key in the ON or RUN position will usually to the trick.   In addition, this procedure will need to be done anytime the Body Control Module loses its memory.  For example, the battery disconnected or replaced, BCM disconnected or an open in the wiring from the Passlock sensor to the Body Control Module.   In severe cases or if the problem persists even after replacing the ignition lock cylinder and passlock sensor, the Body Control Module may need to be replaced.  Note:  This procedure will only work on GM vehicles that have this Passlock system.

Security Indicator Lamp operation.

The Body Control Module controls the security indicator lamp in the instrument cluster by sending messages to the instrument cluster over the class 2 serial data line. The SECURITY indicator lamp may be off, or flashing depending on what state the theft deterrent system is in. If the security indicator lamp is illuminated continuously while the engine is running, there is a security system malfunction which will need to be diagnosed and fixed.

Passlock Operation

This Passlock sensor is located inside the ignition switch and receives a reference voltage (5 volts) from the Body Control Module when turning the key on. This means that the sensor inside the ignition switch is considered to be a hall affect sensor. With the key on, it will then send a voltage reading back to the Body Control Module after it goes through the resistor. The voltage going back to the BCM will be considerably lower than 5 volts because it went through the resistor thus lowering the voltage.  Overtime, the BCM will “learn” this reading.  The voltage reading coming back into the BCM needs to be the same every time the key is turned on and to the crank position. If not, it will send a signal to the PCM preventing the engine from starting by disabling the injectors and sometimes the fuel pump (depending on the year).  Sometimes the BCM will “forget” this value or sometimes the resistor inside the ignition switch will go bad sending a different voltage reading back to the BCM when the key is turned on or to the crank position and will result in a no start condition. That is when a relearn procedure usually does the trick. If not, the ignition lock cylinder housing and passlock sensor will need to be replaced.  The wiring should also be checked before replacing the ignition switch.  In extreme cases, the BCM may even need to be replaced.  If your trying to diagnose this issue but having some difficulties and would like some help, click here to chat with a GM Expert.

GM 10 minute relearn procedure

Turn ON the ignition, with the engine OFF.

Attempt to start the engine, then release the key to ON, the vehicle will not start.  Observe the SECURITY light. After approximately 10 minutes, the security light will turn OFF.  The vehicle is now ready to relearn the Pass lock Sensor Data Code and/or password on the next ignition switch transition from OFF to CRANK.  Turn OFF the ignition, and wait 5 seconds.  Start the engine, the vehicle has now learned the voltage reading coming back from the ignition switch.

Tip #1.  When doing this procedure, the BCM is actually doing the learning.  So some people might call it a “BCM 10 minute relearn procedure”.

Tip #2.  If you want to do pinpoint testing using a voltmeter, you will need to get a wiring diagram from alldataDIY.  They also have the removal and replacement procedure for the ignition switch if you need it.

In the video below, I had to do a 10 minute relearn procedure on a 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue in order to get the vehicle started again after replacing the battery. (Sorry, my daughter was with me and she had a lot of questions).   If doing this does not fix the security issue, it is likely a failed passlock sensor inside the ignition lock cylinder.   You can get this part here.  Once the new part is installed, simply do the relearn procedure and the vehicle should start and run.

Here is a great guide on GM Vehicle Theft Deterrent Relearn Procedures