P1260 – Theft Detected Vehicle Immobilized (Ford)

By Reinier (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2018-09-28
Automobile Repair Shop Owner

Trouble CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P1260 Injector 1 Implausible Signal (AUDI, VOLKSWAGEN)
Fuel Pump Speed Relay Control Circuit Conditions (BUICK, CADILLAC, CHEVROLET, GMC)
Theft Detected - Vehicle Immobilized (FORD, LINCOLN, MERCURY)
Glow Plug #1 Circuit (JEEP)
Theft Detected - Engine Disabled (MAZDA)
Throttle Return Spring Weak Spring Force (SAAB)

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What Does Code P1260 Mean?

OBD II fault code P1260 is a manufacturer specific code that is defined by carmaker Ford as “THEFT Detected- Vehicle Immobilized”, and is set when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detects a violation of the PATS (Passive Anti-theft System) security protocols, which has disabled the engine.

On Ford applications, the PATS system communicates with the PCM via the instrument cluster, and depending on the signals received from the instrument cluster, the PCM will either disable the engine, or allow the engine to start and run normally. Provided the instrument cluster receives a signal from a PATS-enabled key within one second after starting, the PCM will determine that a theft condition does not exist, and it will therefore allow the engine to continue running.

In practice, the PCM and instrument are programmed together during assembly of the vehicle in the factory, which means that for all practical purposes the PCM and instrument cluster form a matched pair for the purposes of preventing the vehicle from being hot-wired, or being started with a non-PATS enabled key.

Apart from the initial enable/disable signals, the PCM and instrument cluster also share all the security codes that were programmed into both during the initial installation, and the enable signal will only be confirmed when all the security codes have been checked and confirmed.  Therefore, if either the PCM or the instrument cluster fails for whatever reason, both the cluster and the PCM must be replaced and programmed together to enable the PATS system.

If the ignition key is turned to either the RUN or START position and the PATS system is fully functional, the THEFT indicator light will turn on and remain illuminated for three seconds before extinguishing automatically. If however a fault or issue exists in the PATS system, the indicator light will either remain illuminated, or start to flash, depending on the nature of the problem.

Where is the P1260 sensor located?

The image above shows the location (circled) of the PATS control module on a Ford Ranger. Note that while this module is equally easy to find on most Ford applications, the module is not user-repairable, and replacing it will usually not resolve the issue. In most instances of this code, dealer-grade diagnostic software and equipment is required to diagnose and/or reprogram the PATS system and ignition keys.

What are the common causes of code P1260?

It should be noted that code P1260 could be set by conditions other than actual theft conditions. For instance, low battery voltages, incorrectly performed jump-starts, or even simple battery replacements can all cause this code.

Other common causes of code P1260 could also include the following-

  • Corrupted software in either (or both) the PCM and instrument cluster
  • Defective PATS control module
  • Use of non-PATS enable ignition keys
  • Use of damaged ignition smart keys
  • Defects in the PCM power supply circuits and/or relay
  • Shorted or interrupted VREF (reference voltage)
  • Loss of power or ground in the PCM power supply circuit(s)
  • Previous or unresolved theft condition
  • Failed or failing PCM

Other Manufacturer Specific Definitions for P1260

Theft Detected - Vehicle Immobilized (Ford)
Fuel Pump Speed Relay Control Circuit Conditions (GM)
Injector 1 - implausible signal (Volkswagen)
Injector 1 - implausible signal (Audi)
Fuel pump speed relay -circuit malfunction (Buick)
Fuel Pump Speed Relay Control Circuit Conditions (Cadillac)
Fuel Pump Speed Relay Control Circuit Conditions (Chevrolet)
Engine control module, output driver -open circuit (Dodge)
Glow Plug #1 Circuit (Jeep)
Engine disabled by PATS (Land Rover)
Theft detected -vehicle immobilized (Lincoln)
Theft detected – engine immobilized (Mazda)
Theft detected -vehicle immobilized (Mercury)
Fuel pump, control signal -circuit malfunction (Pontiac)
Throttle return spring – weak spring force (Saab)
Turbocharger (TC) boost pressure sensor – signal low (Volvo)

BAT Team Discussions for P1260

  • 02 ford mustang
    Crank, no start. Scaned, getting code p1260 theft detected,try to clear keeps comming back. Any ideas. Had a new key made and reprogrammed, still getting same code ??? ???...
  • SAAB--HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have a 2002 Saab 93, it kept getting code P0101 and P1260, 1251. Dealer said it was a bad throttle body-ie traction controll. I had throttle body rebuilt. Cleared codes, reset throttle body. it was fine for 15 miles now check engine light is on again and traction controll light also Codes P010...
  • PATS, Passlock, etc
    Since retiring from most things I have been spending a little time at a salvage yard. We get vehicles without a key that have a security system, Most Fords, some GMs, etc. The normal routine is for the engine to be started and tested before we post it for sale. Therein is the problem! First, do any ...
  • 2001 Lesabre quit running
    The one with a possible anti-theft problem for me recently was a Ford product, that POS Taurus. It set code P1260, but didn't turn on the CEL. I wonder if Gus can enlighten us as to whether that Lesabre will set the P1260 or something similar if the anti-theft is triggered?...