Service Theft Deterrent System – Car Won’t Start

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    My 2014 Chevy Cruze wouldn’t shift into park last night and the key won’t come out. This morning battery was dead, so now it’s fully charged but the car won’t start, I get a messaged that says service theft deterrent system. Is there any way I can get the theft system alert off, so I can start car to bring to dealership?


    Most automakers will leave you a failsafe just in case of a problem like this. Now, it could be due to sitting there listening to a favorite tune or tunes or perhaps a football game on a Sunday. Maybe even a favorite host on Satellite radio, but, whatever it is, there’s help. And, it is not far away.

    So, we’ve established that the battery is flat and the key is in the ignition for the duration. Here’s what you want to do:

    1. Take a look at the ignition side of the steering column, paying close attention to the key
    2. Next, look practically straight down from the key
    3. Then, feel around the under side of the steering column; you should find a small hole directly beneath the key
    4. Next, get flat-bladed screwdriver, about a #2 will do
    5. Insert the blade into the hole, moving it around until you get the best leverage; this should take a minute or less
    6. Once you feel it is firm, turn the screwdriver slowly to your right, while pulling on the key
    7. You should hear a small click as the key is freed; remove the key and wait for a tow to a dealership
    8. At the dealership, ask for a battery recharge — or replacement because today’s batteries don’t like to be brought down to zero. The reason for the dealership charge is they can reset the Cruze’s engine control module so you don’t have to drive around long distances trying various so-called solutions that might or might now work

    There you have it. In fact, it has probably taken me longer to walk through the steps that it did to free your ignition key.

    As I said, Chevy and other makers usually provide this type of failsafe. Thinking about an old Chevy Cobalt of our acquaintance, the method was nearly the same, except it was a pushbutton and not a screwdriver.


    As to your question about whether the theft deterrent system messaging can be turned off the answer is usually no. There’s a good reason for this. Today’s car, truck, or SUV is meant to operate with the engine control module (ECM) on. Part of the software for the ECM’s operation makes a call to the theft deterrent system to ensure that it is working correctly.

    Now, imagine this, if you would. If you could turn off the anti-theft system, you would leave your car vulnerable to thieves, which isn’t something that appeals to most drivers. Honestly, can you see turning off the anti-theft system given the level of car thefts in most major urban areas? And with the investment you are making in the car — most new cars are in the $25,000 range, while most new SUVs are in the $35,000 range — it doesn’t make much sense shutting the anti-theft system down, even for a day.

    As to turning it off so you can start the car, why would you turn this system off for a short time? Just have the Cruze towed into the dealership. It’s a lot less challenging than worrying about turning the system off and getting the Cruze, which may stall or have another electrical problem that could leave you high and dry in the middle of nowhere. So, it’s best to leave the system alone and call a tow.

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by mstern001. Reason: added lines to the answer
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