1997 Pontiac Grand Am • 115,000 miles

I have a 1997 Grand Am 3.1L v6 that has been sitting for 2 months. It had a bad ignition lock cylinder, as well as a possible broken dashboard unit. I replaced the lock cylinder to find that the dash will give me no fuel, rpm, or speedometer readings, but the lights will come on when you first try to start the car. I don't know how much gas was in the car, but it just got very cold and I put a can of heet and 2 gallons of gas in the car. It will run for approximately 1 second then dies. It sounds like it has just enough gas to start, but then just dies. I replaced my battery because the previous one failed (I had to charge it because of so many start attempts). Is there a way to tell if my gas lines are frozen? Will a car start if you accicentally create an open in a wire leading to the air bag?
By the way, it turns out that I didn't have to take the steering wheel apart at all to change the lock cylinder out for this car.

January 14, 2012.

Sounds like the anti-theft system is keeping you from driving your own car. They're very effective at doing that. An open wire to the air bag won't affect engine operation, but be aware that any time you disconnect any bright yellow connector or the plug-in connector on the back of the air bag, the electrical terminals are gold-plated and there WILL be a shorting bar in there to connect both wires together on the air bad side. That is because static electricity can set the bag off in your face. A static shock that you can feel when touching a door **** in the house or when petting a cat is at least 3,000 volts. A nine volt transistor battery is strong enough to pop an air bag. You can generate a lot of static electricity in the car by just sliding across the seat. If an air bag wire is open, there is no shorting bar in the circuit and that leaves it vulnerable to that static electricity. Fortunately we don't hear about accidental deployment very often, but at least be aware that potential exists.

If the no-start problem just started with the new lock cylinder, look at the Pass Lock sensor to be sure it's seated properly in the cylinder and that the tiny wires aren't broken. Look for a "Security" light on the dash. If that is on, there is a procedure to perform a relearn. That is something to the effect of cranking the engine briefly, leaving the ignition switch on for more than ten minutes or until the light goes out, switching it off and back on, (or briefly cranking it again; I can't remember), waiting another ten minutes, then doing that a third time, then start the engine. I can search for the procedure to be sure I have it right, but if you have other things not working on the instrument cluster, which is another complicated computer, you may have other electrical problems. Start by checking all the fuses inside and under the hood. Due to the current surges of all of the many computers' memory circuits charging up, fuses often blow for no other reason when connecting the battery or jump-starting the car.

Jan 14, 2012.
Now that you mention it. I have noticed the anti-theft light flasing on the instrument cluster. When researching how to change the ignition lock cylinder. It said to disconnect the battery, take out the air bag fuse, and disconnect the blac and yellow wires that went to the fuse panel under the passenger-side dash - all of which I did. The only ones necessary were the battery terminal and maybe the airbag fuse, since I did not need to remove the steering wheel in order to change the cylinder. I think you are onto something. Thanks so much for answering so quickly! If you come across the reset instructions please post them or a hyperlink. Thank you so much for your input!

Jan 14, 2012.
Disconnecting the battery and removing air bag fuses is a standard part of almost every procedure. It is usually not necessary but is included for liability reasons. If you do something to pop an air bag and get hurt, the lawyers can say "you didn't follow procedure".

In reality, you have to work pretty hard to pop an air bag. I've replaced a lot of clock spring assemblies and done other repairs that required removing the air bag from the steering wheel, and I never disconnected the battery. Now the manufacturers have added another insane problem. Disconnecting the battery or running it dead can leave the car with a no-start condition, or if it does start, it won't come out of park and the engine speed won't increase when you press the gas pedal. The car has to be dragged skidding onto a flatbed truck and hauled to the dealer to have them unlock various computers. Only Volkswagen is worse than GM in that respect, but many GM cars will still start and run okay as long as no computers are replaced. That didn't start affecting GM cars until somewhere around the mid 2000s. For Volkswagens, that goes back to the early '90s. It's one of the many reasons I will never buy another new car.

Here's what I copied from a similar post: 98 Cavalier

Try the 30 minute relearn sequence.

30 Minute Re-Learn Procedure
1. Turn ON the ignition, with the engine OFF.
2. Attempt to start the engine, then release the key to ON (vehicle will not start).
3. Observe the SECURITY telltale, after approximately 10 minutes the telltale will turn OFF.
4. Turn OFF the ignition, and wait 5 seconds.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 two more times for a total of 3 cycles/30 minutes ( the vehicle is now ready to relearn the Passlock™ Sensor Data Code and/or passwords on the next ignition switch transition from OFF to CRANK).
The vehicle learns the Passlock™ Sensor Data Code and/or password on the next ignition switch transition from OFF to CRANK. You must turn the ignition OFF before attempting to start the vehicle.
6. Start the engine (the vehicle has now learned the Passlock™ Sensor Data Code and/or password).
7. With a scan tool, clear any DTCs if desired (history DTCs will self clear after 100 ignition cycles).

Jan 14, 2012.
Caradiodoc, I don't know who you are, but I want to express my most sincere gratitude. I put the key in and cranked the engine over once, left the key in that position for about 12 minutes. I expected to have to repeat the steps, but the car just started. I would have never guessed that was the problem, since when I was sold the car, there was nothing given to me to activate or deactivate an alarm. I saw that there used to be one. Evidently it was left somewhat intact. My wife and I are struggling financialy, and if it wouldn't have been for your advise, we would probably have had to have the car towed, payed someone to look at it, etc. Thank you very much! Problem solved : )
If you ever need PC advice or want your PC tuned up remotely, I would be very happy to do so!

Jan 14, 2012.
Very happy to read it's solved. I actually do have a 'puter question. I'll contact you privately about that.

Jan 15, 2012.