Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1999 Ford Windstar

This Ford minivan with 139,478 miles was towed in as a no start/no crank issue. The shop owner suspected a theft issue and wanted confirmation. When I look at a possible theft issue there is one thing I always look at first. That is what does the theft indicator lamp/led do when the key is turned on. The majority of theft system will illuminate the theft indicator lamp for about 2-3 seconds then it should go out and stay out. But, before that I checked battery voltage first. This is an important step. Nothing worse than starting to track down an issue only to find out that the battery has low voltage and now you question everything you checked prior. Below is a shot of the dash and theft lamp.

 I flipped the key on and the theft light was flashing rapidly. Step one to confirming a theft issue. Next step is to confirm which type of Ford PATS (Passive Anti Theft System) you have. Ford has 5 different PATS systems that depending on year, make, and model all have their wrinkles. A good source of identification information is the PATS jobaid pdf available for free on the Ford website http://www.motorcraftservice.com/
On this minivan it is a type C PATS system. Type C system utilize the instrument cluster as the theft module. In this year, make, and model it also incorporates starter interrupt as well. From the diagram above you can see there isn't much to this system. The PATS transciever module also known as a "halo" has four wires, it gets a fused key on power and a ground. The other two wires send information from the key to the instrument cluster. From there the instrument cluster makes the call on whether it is the correct key and then sends a data buss message to the PCM to allow the car to start. So lets check some codes.
These are snapshots from my Ottotest. The first stop is the PCM. Here we have a P1260 engine disabled by PATS. Ok, we have a theft issue. But what? Think of the system. Let's scan the Instrument cluster.
Now we are getting someplace. I really do not like the description the Ottotest gives this code. I have the Ford description below.

The Ford definition is much clearer. It is saying that there was NO signal being recieved from the transciever. Do we have a bad transciever? Powers? Grounds? Communication? A little trick I do as well is flash out the PATS codes. On some systems leave the key on after about a minute of the rapid flashing. The theft light will go out and then flash a two digit flash code ten times. This will only flash the most recent code. I do this and get a code 13. A code 13 is equal to a B1600. Now, there is no known published information on this as far as two digit to scanned code conversion that I know of. Here, is what I have decoded.
Flash code 13-B1600
Flash code 14-B1602
Flash code 15-B1601
Flash code 16-U1147
So, what is my next step?
Let's have a look at the keys.
Look at how many keychain cards this owner has. There must have been twenty. These can interfere with key transmission. I stress can. The simple test here is to remove key from ring and retry. I really didn't have to though.
These keys are made by Texas Instruments and right where they put the transponder the key is damaged. In fact the transponder is missing. I look on the floor of the vehicle-no dice. I ask the shop owner to call the customer to see if they have another key. Customer informs us that this is the only key. Oh boy! At this point the customer is going to need a key erase and 2 new keys made and programmed. I can do the key erase and programming no problem. But, I don't have a key cutter and access to cost effective keys. I would have to buy the keys from Ford and it would be pricey. The shop owner has a very competent mobile locksmith that he uses and is far more cost effective. He swings by cuts two keys and programs the PATS and away we go. Now I have to be honest here. I knew what was wrong with this truck in about 30 seconds. But, I thought it would make for a decent case study.