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I need to replace the ign lock on my sons 94 Firebird. It has an air bag and a key with a chip in it. How do I disable the airbag? And can I just do away with the chip key and install a regular lock assembly. Autozone quoted him $50 for a chinese made lock with some shoddy looking keys. I am thinking if I need to stay with the chip lock it should be from GM. I need to pack my tools and drive to Phoenix to make the repairs; are they any special tools other than what is normally needed to do the work? I have the puller, lock plate tool ect, but have never been into a column with an air bag. Thanks
 

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It is not possible to bypass the VATS system. Its part of the elec system of the car. Get the GM piece, you'll be better off in the long run.
 

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Originally posted by SSuper Dave:
It is not possible to bypass the VATS system. Its part of the elec system of the car. Get the GM piece, you'll be better off in the long run.
actually it is possible. what yoy have to do is measure the chip in the key with an ohm meter. then get a resistor with the same ohms and wire it in the vats wire. this is exactly how everyone gets around the vats system when swapping LT1s and LS1s in early muscle cars.

my dad and i buy cars from salvage auctions and part them out. we pick up every 93-02 f-body that we can get our hands on, and he and i have stripped numerous f-bodies to the bone. on top of that fact my mother has a 94 Z28 and my brother has a 95 Trans Am.

i have quite a few of these columns laying around(some with keys). i have tried to take them apart to sell some of the components, but ill tell you, these things arent easy to get into. you will probably end up breaking the column trying to get it apart.

the easiest alternative would be to get a key made by the dealer.

if for some reason the car was broken into and you have to replace the lock cylinder and key do it with a new or used stock replacement.

if you find you are having trouble with disassembling the column you could bypass the vats as described above and replace the whole column with the matching key. in my opinion replacing the column on these cars would be easier than opening the column up to try and replace the lock cylinder.

as far as disabling the air bag, you will need to remove it. on the back of the steering wheel are 4 torx head screws running into the back of the airbag assembly. take these out and unplug the airbag and set it aside.

hope this helps
 

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after work i went out and spent about an hour to give another shot at dissasembling one of these columns. it is doable, and is easier than i previously stated.

you will need to remove the airbag, it takes a t37(4 bolts) torx bit. then remove steering wheel with a puller.

then you will need to remove the clock spring for the airbag wiring, it should pop out. try to pull the wiring somewhat to get enough slack to let it hang to the side.

then you will see a metal plate with notches around the circumference. there will be a snap ring that goes around the steering shaft to hold the plate on. you will have to push the plate down and dig the snap ring out with a pick. pull the plate and plastic part underneath off.

then you will need to remove the turn signal cams. start by removing the hazard light switch(small philips). romove the link between the turn signal lever and signal cams. then remove the 3 x t-20 torx head screws holding the signal cam and remove it. you will have to pull the wiring through the column to get enough slack to remove the signal cam and let it hang to the side. it looked possible to unhook the wires at the signal cam, but they are very small torx head screw that i dont have.

then once that is done if you look down inside the column on top of the lock cylinder there will be a t20 torx screw,(kinda looks like a differential cross shaft bolt) take it out and the lock cyl will now come out. there will two wires going to the lock cyl, these are the vats wires and i didnt see a way to unhook them. looks like you will have to cut, solder and shrink wrap them as i dont think butt connectors would fit inside here, everything is very tight on top of that there are lots of moving parts.

other than the usuall stuff to get inside a column you will need a t-20 and t-37 torx bits. lots of patience, sweat, and a few hail mary's. :D

if you want cheap i have a used lock cylinder with the key i could send you, maybe the dealer could reprogram your computer for the correct vats code, im sure if they could they would charge an arm and a leg. if not, you could unhook the vats wires and jumper them with the correct resistor to bypass the vats. you could even wire a switch in there and hide it so that the vats still functions at the flip of a switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys. I will have him pick up the lock cyl from GM. Except for the airbag removal everything sounds the same as a normal tilt column. I will make sure I am never in line with the air bag just in case I screw up.
 

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There are 2 fusses in the fuse box on most cars & trucks with supplemental restraint systems. Both should be labeled. If you remove them there is no chance it will inflate. I have taken out 100+ air bags to install cruse controls on several makes & models and have never had a problem. They are not as touchy as everyone thinks. I’m not saying that you should not use caution....
 

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Originally posted by ZZ69chevelle:
Not that you need to, but you can disable VATS in the software without touching any wiring. Just tossed this in there FYI.

neat, i had no idea. thats tunercat right? i would imagine you would need something like tunercat to do this correct? how much does it cost?
 

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www.tunercat.com
Tunercat is free, but each definition file is 20 bucks. My 93 has a removable chip, so it needs a chip burner. I use the pocket programmer II. The 94-95 uses a flash chip and is done with a computer and cable. after that, it's OBD2. Other programs like LT1 edit are out there too. I went with Tunercat because I was already using it for my 88 TPI.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
interesting. How does it hook up to the car? This appears to be similiar to Power Commander that I use on my Harley.
 
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