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Service Theft Deterrent System Chevy Cruze/Impala

If you’re driving a Chevy or GM you’re all too familiar with the fact they come equipped with a theft deterrent system to prevent car theft. However, this system can sometimes malfunction and prevent the car from starting, leaving you stranded with your dash flashing “Service Theft Deterrent System”.

If you see the service theft deterrent system on your Chevy or GM and your car won't start, this is almost always due to a dead battery. You'll want to recharge your battery or replace it and reset the system using the guide below.

If you’re experiencing this issue and want to resolve it, continue reading for a better understanding on why this occurs and what you can do to resolve it.

Basic Understanding of Theft Deterrent System

The theft deterrent system on Chevy and GM vehicles (like the Impala or Cruze) uses external and internal car sensors to detect burglary attempts. When the system detects an attempt to steal the car, it immobilizes the engine and raises a high-pitched beeping alarm to notify you of the intrusion. The system is designed to prevent the car from being started or driven away without the correct key or remote.

The system is also equipped with a passive theft-deterrent feature that prevents the car from being started if the wrong key or remote is used. This feature is automatic and does not require manual arming or disarming.

If the system detects a problem, it will display a message on the dashboard that reads “Service Theft Deterrent System.” This message indicates that there is an issue with the anti-theft system in your Chevy Cruze. You will not be able to start the engine until you fix the issue.

Service Theft Deterrent System

If you’re seeing the Service Theft Deterrent System light in your Chevy/GM and wondering why you can’t start your vehicle the reason is a bad battery.

99.9% of the time the system will not reset until your battery is recharged and you are able to start the car again.

In this case, you’ll want to grab a pair of jumper cables, a secondary power source, and get that hooked up before attempting to reset the the theft detection system.

How To Reset Chevy or GM Theft Detection System

A video on how to reset theft detection system for Chevy and GM vehicles

If you’re having issues with your GM theft deterrent system, you may need to reset it to get it working again. Here’s what you need to know:

Common Issues

There are several common issues that can cause your theft deterrent system to malfunction. These include a low or dead battery, a faulty key fob, or a damaged or dirty key. If your theft deterrent system is activated, you may notice a flashing security light on your dashboard or a message that says “Service Theft Deterrent System.”

Preventive Measures

To prevent issues with your theft deterrent system, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure your key fob is in good working condition and has a fresh battery. You should also keep your key clean and free of dirt and debris. If you have multiple keys, try using a different one to see if the issue is with the key itself.

If you do need to reset your Impala’s theft deterrent system, here’s how to do it:

  1. With a fully charged battery, put the key in your Impala’s ignition and turn it like you are going to start the engine.
  2. Leave the key in the “on” position. You’ll see the little padlock symbol, security light, or service theft deterrent system message.
  3. Once the padlock goes out (takes about ten minutes), try and start the engine.

It may take 3 or 4 tries for this to work, so don’t give up after the first.

How Long Will It Take To Stop Flashing?

The length of time that the theft deterrent light will flash depends on the specific model of your Chevy and the reason why the system was triggered. In some cases, the light may stop flashing after a few seconds or minutes, while in other cases it may continue to flash until the issue is resolved.

If the light continues to flash or the car will not start, it’s due to the fact the issue that is triggering the malfunction has not been resolved. If my guide on resetting the system did not work there’s probably a larger issue that you’ll find in the section below.

Other Reasons Your Chevy Won’t Start Due To Theft Deterrent

If you’re made sure your vehicle has a freshly charged battery and key fob there may be some deeper issues at hand. Some of these include:

1. Malfunctioning ignition switch

The ignition switch is responsible for sending a signal to the theft deterrent system to allow the car to start. If the switch is faulty, the system may not recognize the key and prevent the car from starting.

Symptoms of a faulty ignition switch include difficulty turning the key, the key getting stuck in the ignition, or the car starting and then immediately stalling.

2. Failure in the security system

If there is a failure in the security system, it can cause the system to engage and prevent the car from starting. This can happen if there is a problem with the theft deterrent module or if the system detects a security breach, such as a broken window or door lock.

3. Recent battery or key fob replacement

If you’ve recently replaced the battery or key fob in your Chevy, the theft deterrent system may need to be reset to recognize the new components. This can be done by following the steps in your owner’s manual or by taking the car to a dealership for service.


In conclusion, most of the issues regarding the Chevy or GM theft deterrent systems come down to a faulty battery. In this article I explained how you can easily reset the system with a fully charged battery to make your car drivable once again.

Make sure to give it a few tries before quitting, sometimes it takes 3 or 4. However, if your service theft deterrent light refuses to turn off, it could be the sign of a deeper issue or failure within the security system.


  • Randy Worner

    My name is Randy Worner and I am the founder of I have been working on cars and trucks for almost 45 years. For the last 36 years I have taught Automotive / Diesel Technology classes for UTI, Snap On Tools, Chrysler, Pepboys, Lone Star College, NAPA and TBC Corporation. I also own a technical writing company known as Supreme Technical Services. It is ASE Gold Seal certified and Blue Seal Certified Author of auto/truck repair information.

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