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A familiar problem to P38 owners. A flat battery followed by immobilisation of car. My vehicle is a 2001 P38 4.0L Petrol automatic. No previous history of electrical problems or gremlins, both key fobs working and only ever had to rest them after a key fob battery change. Then an extended period abroad resulted in a flat battery probably caused by winter temperature drop. The battery had failed while the vehicle was locked leaving the immobiliser in an armed state. Any attempt to enter or start car simply resulted in alarm initiation.

First Steps

1)      Recharged battery. But was not convinced the battery was up to it.

2)      Opened door and waited for alarm to stop.

Behaviour

1)      Dash alarm light winking showing alarm armed.

2)      No response to remote operation of fob.

3)      Manual operation of driver’s door unlocked driver’s door only.

Next Steps 1

1)      Inserted key to ignition and to position II

2)      Alarm sounds. Patiently wait

3)      Dash showing ENGINE DISABLED. Other expected error messages: WINDON RH NOT SET, SUNROOF NOT SET etc etc

Next Steps 2

1)      Individually opened and closed windows and sunroof to full reach and back. Removed key

2)      Exited vehicle locked manually.

3)      Made sure all doors locked and bonnet slammed closed:

4)      4 turns anti-clockwise in driver’s door lock to enter EKA mode. All models after ‘96. Checked my EKA code with Land Rover Customer Experience Desk on 0370 5000 500. No charge will ask ownership details. Very helpful. Mine appeared to be right and matched that in the service book

a.         * turns clockwise

b.         * turns anti-clockwise

c.          * turns clockwise

d.         * turns anti-clockwise

Behaviour.

1)      Nothing. No response to EKA. No indicator repeater or dashboard response.

2)      Pretty clear EKA mode not being activated.

Next Steps 3

1)      Tried many times to input EKA Code. (sob)

2)      Attempted the generic RR P38 code of 1515 which apparently works in NAS and on individual UK RHD vehicles which may have had their BeCM reset/replaced.  While this did not work neither after three incorrect entries did the car enter KEY CODE LOCKOUT state which it should have done. This signalled that the car was not going to respond to EKA and further attempts were pointless. Should KEY CODE LOCKOUT show on the message dash go away and leave the vehicle alone until 30 minutes have passed. While it is not accepting the code under these conditions the vehicle is in EKA normal status.

Interim Conclusion

There appear to be two conditions that account for this behaviour:

1)      The BeCM entered ‘Lockout’ mode. This state of immobilisation means the BeCM will not respond to the conventional EKA procedure. It needs to be reset with correct software. In this condition would not have responded to EKA input via NANOCOM. It is likely that some hurried and panicky attempts at EKA with jump leads on donor car, bonnet raised, windows not set etc etc sufficiently confused the BeCM that it decided to put itself into lockout.

2)      The microswitches on the driver’s door latch and actuator have become faulty, meaning the BeCM does not know that the EKA procedure is being initiated.

With no specialist testing skill, proper workshop facilities or tools (would have given an arm for a NANOCOM and instructions how to use it) the elimination approach was decided upon. Gut feeling was that with the car in good condition this was more likely a BeCM problem than an actuator microswitch.

Phoned Turner Diagnostics https://www.turnerdiagnostics.com/. Hugely helpful telephone discussion. They advised BeCM reset.

Removing and Resetting BeCM

1)      Disconnected battery.

2)      Removed base trims from driver seat (RHD model). Large plastic press fasteners.

3)      Removed 4 x T45 screws holding seat onto frame.

4)      Unplugged 3 x multi-plugs under the seat. The Bordeaux is a base model, classier RR may have more seat electrics.

5)      Left seat belt harness in place and shifted seat into rear cabin.

6)      Unscrewed under seat blower vent from top of BeCM

7)      Watched a YouTube Land Rover video on the BeCM for workshop staff made in the ‘90s. Did not learn much of use but weirdly found it interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3uLZoQ-DEY

😎      The BeCM is laptop sized and held in place by three 12mm nuts. It is fed by multiplugs and power cables. I took photos of the connections, but the multi-plugs are mostly different sizes and with limited cable tolerance length. You would have to work hard to reconnect it wrongly.

9)      Unplugged the unit lifts free. It is large but light and would ship easily. But given the time it would take to find a box, wrap and stand in a post office line on pension day I drove the 70 miles to Turners and handed it in.

It’s a common problem according to the team, with them receiving 4-5 a day from some far-flung places across the globe.

Replacing the BeCM

Turners took a day to reset the unit. They disarmed the immobiliser and reset the EKA state. As importantly they gave me 30 minutes of their time and knowledge about this area of Range Rover P38. They charged £150 for the reset and get my business in the future. They provide a reset report with some useful information on the BeCM settings for the particular vehicle.

Refitting the BeCM was the reverse of removal.

1)      Ensure battery is disconnected.

2)      The multi-plugs basically only fit one way.

3)      Be prepared to wrestle/mangle the plastic trim plugs. Useful preparation to have acquired a few spares.

4)      Don’t leave keys in car and leave drivers door open. (This is purely precautionary)

5)      Reconnect battery. Any memory settings in the car such as radio will have been lost.

6)      Enter the car turn on ignition to position II. Wait a few seconds before starting the engine. (heart stopping moment as display gave the dreaded ENGINE DISABLED warning to be replaced with cheers by the new alert ENGINE START.

7)      Ranger Rover P38 returned to the living.

😎      Resync the key (in my case using the driver’s door (see below).

9)      Spend thirty minutes with false alarms and messages, which I cleared by patiently and methodically resetting all windows doors and locks. For example, on first reconnection the FOB would only centrally unlock the doors and not lock them. However, after a test drive, this error corrected itself. There seemed to be a period of the BeCM resetting itself and synchronising itself back to the states of various electrical systems.

What did I learn?

1)      The BeCM did its job in going to lockout. My initial unstructured attempts at jump starting, EKA process and key synching all on a fading battery, (less than 12v) told it that I was attempting to thieve a £3000 piece of ‘90s automobile. At that point no amount of EKA attempts, even with the correct EKA code, would resolve the situation, nor would submitting the code through NANOCOM. It had to be reset through software.

2)      Lockout, while serious should not happen if the EKA number is present. The design logic is that if the legitimate owner has the code lockout only happens to bad guys. Fair enough but relies on owners to keep proper records.

3)      Why did the EKA process not work in the first place? I now know the BeCM was not the original unit!!. Despite FSH, plenty of paperwork an original owners handbook with EKA number on security card and after confirming the number with Land Rover Customer Experience, the previous owner had not thought to pass the new code on. If the EKA process does not work it is important to investigate the unit before taking other action.

4)      Although my model is 2001, the BeCM is probably from a pre-96 vehicle. Using a different BeCM is like a brain transplant with the VIN and other details of a probably scrapped P38 continuing as a ghost like influence in its new body. This is no real problem (if you know) and it works perfectly well except the behaviour of the car will match the BeCM not the vehicle itself:

a.       The key synchronisation to be followed is through the door not the ignition as my handbook and research told me.

b.       The 4 turns anti-clockwise to initiate the EKA process was simply confusing the BeCM unit.

5)      If the FOB does not work and the key only operates the driver’s door and not the central locking, then the immobiliser is probably armed.

6)      The Immobiliser state and the EKA state are different.

7)      I have always wondered why my cruise control did not work. It is not enabled in this BeCM probably because it was not a feature of the BeCM’s original vehicle. It now does!

😎      If the battery goes flat follow the handbook procedure for removing it. Otherwise the BeCM receives a signal it does not like, assumes theft attempt and locks itself. If possible, recharge the battery in situ on a trickle charge setting.

9)      Treat with caution the various remedies and solutions available on the internet. The diagnostic team’s view was that: door actuation problems are rare, lockout is more likely. Connecting positive and negative battery leads to clear errors on a P38 is (ahem) rubbish. Setting ignition key to position II and then connecting battery is more likely to invite KEY CODE LOCKOUT than solving the problem.

Final Advice.

1)      If EKA procedure does not work, make absolutely sure (beyond doubt) that the code is correct and that the input method is that for the age of the unit not the vehicle.

2)      If EKA does not work, only the driver’s door can be unlocked and the alarm sounds on entering the vehicle. Then assume lockout.

3)      Call for professional advice before attempting other methods. Turner Diagnostics 0044 (0) 1442 601028

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