|Ford Vehicle Anti-Theft System|
Before you remove your instrument cluster, it is important to know whether your vehicle is equipped with a Passive Anti-Theft System, commonly known as the PATS system.
Vehicle anti-theft systems were first added to Ford vehicles in 1996. Ford vehicles with PATS systems have a computer chip in the ignition key that communicates with the PATS module located in the instrument cluster. The PATS module and the ignition key must be properly programmed so that they can communicate. If PATS cannot communicate with the ignition key, the PATS system assumes someone is trying to steal the vehicle and prevents the vehicle from being started.
It is very important to understand that the PATS system will disable your vehicle if you replace your instrument cluster without also having the new system programmed. If you plan to replace your instrument cluster with a new or used cluster, you must have the new PATS system and your ignition keys programmed to communicate with each other. In most cases this programming will be costly. You will have to tow the vehicle to the dealer unless you have a friend who is a PATS technician and who has access to the special equipement necessary to program PATS. The point to understand is that replacing your instrument cluster can be expensive because there are some pretty stiff costs way beyond the cost of the instrument cluster itself. Dealers routinely charge around $600 to replace the instrument cluster, which includes the cluster, the labor for replacing the cluster and programming of the PATS.
Please check back here for our soon-to-be-published booklet Understanding Your Ford Vehicle's Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) for more detailed information. If you would like to be notified when the booklet is available, please drop us a short message here.