Passlock failure causes dash board lights to go out


New member
1998 Pontiac Sunfire 2.2L

Problem Started 18 months ago or so

The problem is starting the car…. inserting the key turning the ignition to start .. the car runs for a few seconds and then dies. and starting the car I can hear the fuel pump come on for a few seconds and then it quits. and searching the internet I found that this was a key passlock issue that several people have reported and was a known bug that General Motors never fixed. I have used the passlock relearn procedure to get the car started.

So over the past 18 months the issues has appeared 6 or so times .. no rhyme or reason that I could tell. Someone said not getting enough voltage .. check my battery and it showed a bad cell so I had my battery replaced.. Checked fuses, etc. Problem still appeared ..

My issue with passlock was different from the standpoint that when this happened .. I did not get a security light warning on my dashboard. My dashboards lights would all go out .. no engine light, no seatbelt light, etc. All dashboards light are out. Radio lights work, door open bell works, but no dash lights. After a successful passlock relearn, the dashboard lights will all work again.

A month ago, the issue occurred only this time it would not reset. I could repeat the passlock relearn sequence a half dozen times .. nothing .. no dashboard lights, and when i try to start .. fuel pump runs and car starts and then dies from no fuel as fuel pump shuts off.

So I was hoping a replacement ECU would solve the problem, I replaced the current ECU unit and I still have the exact same results. Any suggestions? The car is in great condition and I hate to scrap it.


Staff member
the fuel pump comes on for a number of seconds when you turn the key to the run position in order to pressurize the system. Your symptoms do not point to a passlock issue, dashboard lights going out. I would suspect a bad cluster or an issue related to the fuse box. Did you actually test for spark while cranking the engine? Having a proper diagnostic tester such as a Tech 2 would be the better way to go rather than guessing as to what the problem is.
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