Passlock Problem, Won't Start & Anti-Theft Light Is On

2003 Oldsmobile Alero (Page 1 of 2) Seal Of This Might Hurt


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
78,750 miles
Total Complaints:
36 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. turn key to ON for 10 minutes, OFF for 5 seconds, car starts (18 reports)
  2. not sure (10 reports)
  3. replace ignition lock cylinder (5 reports)
  4. clean key and ignition switch (1 reports)
  5. fiddle with key in ignition (1 reports)
  6. reset button in fuse box on drivers inside (1 reports)
2003 Oldsmobile Alero electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Oldsmobile Alero Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #36

Sep 092019

Alero GX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Like everyone else, I too have been plagued with the pass lock security malfunction crisis of 2003 and have been left stranded more than 20+ times. Easy enough work around but a real pain in the ass. No mechanic will even touch this car's electrical system, and I don't blame them.

- wx529, Orlando, FL, US

problem #35

Jun 212009

Alero 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

GM needs to fix this crap! I've had this happen to me multiple time a day, it's stressful and annoying,

- Jennifer K., Westminster, CA, US

problem #34

Nov 012015

Alero 2.2L Eco Tech

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,539 miles

The motor cranks over and won't start...2003 Alero.. 2.2 eco tech.....had a problem with security light and did the key on for ten minutes until security light stops flashing ...that worked for security light is solid and it won't start. Replaced fuel pump, replaced fuel pump relay fuse... just recently replaced ignition switch started... I thought....3 days go by and it won't start again..same problem. Engine cranks over but won't start..there is no fuel getting to fuel rail...because of the anti theft system malfunctioning thinking it is getting shuts fuel system down...took out bcm (body control module)and looked at it for corrosion or anything looks fine and dry.....very clean looking.ok ... so now I need advice from here as to what to do next. Any advice will help....thanks

- Phil R., Erie, PA, US

problem #33

Jun 252015

Alero GL2 3.4L V6 Fi Ohv 12v

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,835 miles


Vehicle wouldn't start after getting gas at WAWA. My daughter called Allstate Motor Club to get vehicle towed. Tow mechanic said this is an ongoing problem with many older GM vehicles, especially Olds Alero. He said to turn ignition key to "on" position, wait 10 minutes, turn off, wait about 10 seconds or so and then start the vehicle. It worked. Being a single, young lady she was scared. Hopefully it won't be an ongoing problem; however taking vehicle to STS in Bordentown NJ to check vehicle.

- Gregorio P., Florence, NJ, US

problem #32

Sep 142014

Alero 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

Problem starts with Security light on the dash board.

Then car won't start.

Temporary solution:

Turn key to the ON position, wait 10 minutes.

Turn key to the OFF position wait 5 minutes,

Then start car.

- Thomas D., Fuquay Varina, NC, US

problem #31

Sep 152011

Alero GLS 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,875 miles

this happens when i am in a hurry. i had it towed the first 3 times it happened. chevy house could not find out what was wrong but they charged me 75.oo each time to diagonostic. i am still driving my alero. it still happens occassionally...a pain in the ass

- knott, Athens, TX, US

problem #30

Oct 242012

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles



- dkernsjr, Georgetown, IN, US

problem #29

May 152008

Alero 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ok so I have a 2003 alero and the security system is a pain with the cycling, I have been stuck almost everywhere on one occasion or another. My uncle who is a life time mechanic said that installing a remote control in the car will bypass the security also. I just don't have the extra $120+ to get a remote start, so I do the ten minute trick. Recently though my security light has stopped coming on and my car will only start after holding the reset button in the fuse box for a few seconds. I'm not sure why, but it starts after I hold that button. I only figured this out after trying the ten minute trick twice in a row and checking my battery. I hope this saves someone some money even if just on a tow. I haven't had it checked yet to find out whats causing it because I unfortunately don't have money to just pour into repairing my car. hope it helps

- xander7220, Mansfield, OH, US

problem #28

Jun 162010

Alero GL 3100

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,836 miles

note to people with the security system problem on your Alero I have had 2 of these cars in my shop and one thing worth mentioning is that the 2002 and older will crank over but not start when this problem comes up and the 2003 and newer Alero would not make a sound no cranking. Same passlock problem 2 different symptoms. The little I do know about this is GM is ignoring people with the problem. They look at you and give you the impression this has never happened before to anyone I am the first. In stead of handing me a new lock and key cylinder for free like they should. And maybe sent a letter to all GM owners describing the problem and explaining to people that they could can get home if they wait 10 with the key on then turn off and then star the car trick.. What junk. I understand the passlock system can be bypassed it is important to note that down the road the body control module could fail and the resister idea will fail with it . I have heard that the best by pass is to mimic the out put signal to the ecm Engine control module not the input signal to the BCM body control module

- redfox, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

problem #27

Aug 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Follow the directions as described in the Owner's Manual about the passlock system. I have heard that it eventually fails and the repairs can be costly for such a small part. There are also some websites that suggest a solution that requires soldiering and costs less than $5 to repair. I haven't looked into this yet and hopefully I won't need to. The passlock system malfunctions once every month and a half or so.

- midworken, Lincoln, NE, US

problem #26

Jul 252011

Alero 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,430 miles


Passlock problem; car wouldn't start. Had to sit in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart at 11pm for 10 minutes while the stupid car's security light blinked at me. After 10 minutes it finally started. Single woman here! Don't really enjoy being a sitting duck for any weirdo who might be around!

Car wouldn't start; had to wait 10 minutes for the security light to go off before I could try it again. Started second time. Good thing I allowed extra time to make it to my destination.

Ridiculous. This was the third time.

Fourth time this month that the car wouldn't start!! Today it was 7pm and 100 degrees, and I had to wait in the hot car for 10 minutes before trying again. Recall it!! I'm tired of playing this game!!

On the 3rd of July, a Sunday, the car wouldn't start. I couldn't get to church. Since the next day was a holiday, nothing could be done until Tuesday. I was stuck at home with NO TRANSPORTATION for 2 DAYS!! I had it towed (AAA covered, thank God!). The diagnostic cost me $65.00, and the mechanic gave me instructions to let the key stay in the "on" position for 10 minutes if it happened again, then turn it off and try to start again. So far that fix has worked, but it's 105 degrees here, and sitting inside the hot car for 10 minutes is not my idea of a good time!!!

I'm making payments on this used car - I can't afford to be making repairs, too! Recall it!!

- charteeay, Grandview, MO, US

problem #25

Nov 182010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Was driving dwon the highway and it just quit. Waited forever for a tow truck and it costed me over 800 to replce the fuel pump and filter. About 3 weeks later the car won't start after driving it to work, working 12 hours and being really tired. Finally had it towed and no one seems to know what its wrong with it. Had replaced the ignition switch about 1 month prior to this and now tried the "10 minute" fix to no avail. IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT GM DOES NOT FIX THIS PROBLEM!!!!!!!!

- smileynotnow, La Grange, IL, US

problem #24

Apr 282011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,000 miles

I went to start the car and it wouldn't do anything. The lights, radio, and windows work, but the car won't start. We tried the 10 minute trick, but it won't work. I called the dealership, but they can't work on it until Monday! I called the Oldsmobile customer assistance to complain. The 2000 and 2001 alero was recalled for the same problems I'm having with my car! However there is no recall for these problems on the 2003!?!?! Please call the numbers below to complain. U.S. 1-800-442-6537 Canada 1-800-263-3777

- Angela S., Hardyville, KY, US

problem #23

Jun 192010

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

I have a 2003 Olds Alero that the Passlock anti theft system has activated numerous times over the years. Have done the "10 minutes in On position then start" reset method with success....until 3 weeks ago. In the morning when I started the car the Security light came on (GRRR, late to work, AGAIN due to this) and did the reset method, went to work, fine. Then later in the day, started the car and began driving down the road and the car just died 3 minutes later. Tried the Security reset method again, no luck. Tried the suggested "do the reset method 3x in a row" with no luck. Towed car home, cleaned the key and blew out the iginition with canned air, no luck. Replaced iginition with new brand new iginition switch, no luck. 3 weeks later I'm at wits end. Can't do bypass method because CAR WON'T START. Looks like this is an all too common complaint with Alero owners/GM Passlock victims, and I'm not happy with GM not doing anything about it.

How do you file a class action law suit? Someone please start organizing one, seriously! Does anyone know a good lawyer? This is crap. No wonder Olds folded and GM is sinking. With dung like this that they're producing, I'll never buy American again.

- Jean N., Winneconne, WI, US

problem #22

May 272010

Alero LS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

My car starting having this problem a couple weeks ago and very fast progressed to being a real pain. Once in awhile in the morning before work with a 35 min drive to work, and mostly after work the problem continued to get worse. One night after work the car refused to start at all and i wore the battery down. The car had to be towed and i left the spare key in the car for the mechanic. He picked the car up and over the next few days started the car periodically. Of course it started for him almost everytime. He then decided it was probably the fuel filter and the fuel pump because the cars diagnostic lights would not read on the machine. I picked the car up on a Tuesday night and it ran good, started every time for two days, then on Friday it started with the same problem again. I cranked it over probably four or five times with the key i had been using all the time, set there for a few minutes totally frustrated was getting a ride home and ready to call the wrecker when my husband suggested for some reason I should try to use the spare key, Well for some stupid reason the car started right up, I drove it home and the thing has started every since.

The repair for the fuel pump and filter was 313.00 what the hell? Why not just do a recall fix the problem and maybe restore some of our belief in our auto industry. Is there anyone still wondering why so many people these days are buying foreign? Read all the complaints on just the Alero and I am sure you will have your answer. When I went to check on the recall for this car I also found problems with the driver and passenger windows, are you kidding I have that problem too.This car needs a total recall. My daughter had an old beat up Honda car and she put that car thru so much and the car ran and started every time till one day a snow storm and getting stuck got the best of it. Why can't Olds give us the same quality and the same piece of mind that old Honda did?

- pooh2_ladymi, Eaton Rapids, MI, US

problem #21

Nov 222008

Alero EX 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,797 miles

I have tried the 10 min waiting game and it does works. Except last week I drained my battery and had to get a boost. What I normally do is when I go and start the car if it is first thing in the am I just go ahead and start the car and it has been starting with no prOblem BUT after that I will put the key in and turn to ON NOT START return to off and take the key out then put it back in and so the same thing. I will vary this from 3-4 times each time I try and start the car> Has worked everytime. It was only when I tried to start the car WITHOUT doing this that it didn't start. That is what happened last week. i went to a store was only in for about 5 minutes, came out and tried starting on the first turn. Did not start. Have been doing this putting in and taking out again all week and have had no problems!

- lemsyd, Milton, Ontario, Canada

problem #20

Nov 222009

Alero GL V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

I returned home from job searching for lunch, only to find my Alero not starting and the security light flashing. The engine would crank but not turn over. After some swearing and cursing i finally consulted the Googlemeister and found the problem to be a dirty sensor in the ignition, which has a nice, cheap, simple, cheap and easy solution. Did i mention Cheap?

1. Clean your key with dawn soap and then rubbing alcohol and dry well.

2. Buy some canned air (the kind you use for cleaning a keyboard) and use the straw to blow the dirt out of the keyhole, thus cleaning the sensor. (Use about half a can to make sure it gets a thorough cleaning)

3. Stop pulling your hair out and enjoy your WORKING alero!

- jmanca, San Bernardino, CA, US

problem #19

Oct 282009

Alero GLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

This happens during the winter months, since last year. For some unknown reason it just won't start. The security light (anti theft) comes on but the rest of the dash is blank (after doing that 10 minute thing). Sometimes the quick fix works but it's not working now.

Does anyone else suggest changing out the ignition switch? Does this REALLY help?? Please let me know!


- Karen G., Indianapolis, IN, US

problem #18

Jul 152009

Alero 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

My daughter is about to start college and this is the car she is stuck with! I hope this fixes the problem every time. $400 is not just a normal repair for an ignition switch. I am going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

- Gary B., Lufkin, TX, US

problem #17

Jul 272009

Alero GLS 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Went out to my car turned key and would not start.I have to travel 40 miles one way to get to work so,obviously I had to call in that I had car problems.I spent 5-6 hours trying to figure it out,I tested my battery,cables,starter,alternator,coil packs but no luck.My son borrowed a code reader from one of his friends,connected it and everything passed.By this time I'm totally stunned by these results thinking that maybe there's a problem with the code reader.I noticed the security light kept flashing so,we got on the internet site CARCOMPLAINTS.COM and we could not believe the number of complaints regarding the 2003 Olds. alero and the amount of times and money that customers have spent and not to mention loss of work.If this is not a recall then I don't know what is.

- eliasf, Austin, MN, US

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