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I am interested to know whether there are many alternatives, if any, to lock the car without using the key fob and just using the key.

The reason I ask is that quite a lot of times that I leave my P38 the key fob won't lock the car, and I don't particularly like using the key because I get the impression that the key will throw up errors, such as engine immobilised, or press buttons whille key is in the ignition. If the car doesn't lock with the fob I tend to leave it unlocked, which is not the best option.

I have one of Marty's RF filter fitted, and the car locks and unlocks every single time that it is parked outside my house, but go near somewhere where there may be loads of RF signals and I just can't use te fob. I have new handles and door latches fitted, but sometimes the car will lock with the fob, but not unlock, I have to use the key. Then, quite often, when I go to start the car the first turn of the key does nothing so I have to take the key out of the ignition and go again, at which point the car usually starts.

I would like to find a means that might be 100% reliable. I know that I saw something about using the US key fobs, using the US frequencies, but from the brief bit that I read there is quite a lot to changing the key fobs to US spec. A more simple answer would be preferred.

Maybe I can program out the immobilisor with Nanocom ? I suppose that would help, but ideally the possibility of by-passing the EKA software would be the best choice.

I would be interested to see what other members views are.

Pierre3.

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I don’t think you can programme a NAS fob (or any fob) to your BeCM. I wish it was possible as I have only ever had one fob for my P38.

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If it is locked with the fob and unlocked with the key it doesn't turn the immobiliser off until the fob syncs again. You obviously have passive immobilisation enabled so as soon as you put the key in the ignition, the LED on the fob will flash and it sends an unlock code. The same will happen if you press unlock on the fob before trying to start it. If that is working and you aren't having to enter the EKA, the receiver is receiving the unlock code when you are in the car even if it didn't when you were outside. If it won't lock or unlock on the fob from outside, try it with the fob near to the receive antenna in the RH rear window. I have to do that at my daughters house due to the receiver (with one of Marty's filters on it) being overloaded by RF on other frequencies from a mobile phone mast on the other side of the road.

You can however, lock with the key and unlock with the fob and the immobiliser is turned off. If you lock and unlock with the key it will also turn it off. With new door latches, you shouldn't run into the problem of wearing out the keyswitch in the latch for a few years.

It isn't always RF on the same frequency that causes a problem, it is strong RF on any frequency that swamps the front end of the receiver so, even if it were possible, changing to a US spec 315MHz fob and receiver would make no difference whatsoever. It's still a receiver and it will still get swamped.

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Harv, I thought I had seen something by Richard [Gilbertd] which suggested that the NAS fobs could be used in a UK P38, but it is complicated. I would imagine it would entail reprogramming the BeCM as well as changing the RF filter thingy. And if you change out the BeCM I suppose that you open a whole new can of worms. So, I think that, for me, it is not an option.

The first thing I would like to check is what happens if I [or can I] program out the the immobiliser option with Nanocom ? I guess that, at least, I could prevent the engine being immobilised if the key operation fails for any reason.

That leaves the issue of whether there is any way of by-passing the EKA ? I am guessing not, or else the security would be too badly compromised.

I still don't feel that comfortable using only the key to lock and unlock the car on a long term basis.

Pierre3.

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Pierre3 wrote:

Harv, I thought I had seen something by Richard [Gilbertd] which suggested that the NAS fobs could be used in a UK P38, but it is complicated. I would imagine it would entail reprogramming the BeCM as well as changing the RF filter thingy. And if you change out the BeCM I suppose that you open a whole new can of worms. So, I think that, for me, it is not an option.

Not me, to do that you would need an unlocked BeCM so you can program the lockset barcode (and that involves getting hold of the lockset barcode for the 315MHz fob) and a 315MHz receiver. Or the fob, receiver and BeCM from a donor NAS vehicle which will then give you problems with an odometer error. Not really an option for anyone and, as i pointed out, it isn't necessarily the operating frequency that creates problems.

The first thing I would like to check is what happens if I [or can I] program out the the immobiliser option with Nanocom ? I guess that, at least, I could prevent the engine being immobilised if the key operation fails for any reason.

You can't. You can program out passive immobilisation but that is all. Passive kicks in if you unlock the car but don't start it within a set time period (can't remember exactly but 30 or 60 seconds), the immobiliser kicks in again. With it enabled the fob then transmits the unlock code as soon as you put the key in the ignition to turn it off. With passive turned off, as soon as you unlock the car it is turned off and stays off no matter how long you wait before starting.

That leaves the issue of whether there is any way of by-passing the EKA ? I am guessing not, or else the security would be too badly compromised.

You can disable it in the BeCM but all that means is that it won't ask for it when it is needed, it's still there.

I still don't feel that comfortable using only the key to lock and unlock the car on a long term basis.

Other than at my daughter's house and at one or two other places, where I have to hold the key next to the antenna, I can't remember the last time I had to resort to the key. Your car is later than mine so may well have the later receiver that I have and with Marty's filter you shouldn't ever have to resort to using the key.

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My remote doesnt work due to reasons i've never quite figured out. Plus, i only have one, with the wifes keychain only having a standard key blade on it.
As such i always lock with the key. As far as i can tell, it all works as normal. At one point i had a bad microswitch, so the car occasionally didnt "see" the unlock event from the key, If you noticed and unlocked again, it usually worked, but if you didnt notice and opened the door and tried to start the car, the alarm would go off and the car displays engine immobilised as you would expect.

My car is a very early model so i dont know if that makes a difference. I've noticed in Nanocom it says "Security Learn: NO" so i'm not sure if my car acts differently to any others. It definitely doesnt have passive immobilisation. I often leave it unlocked and it'll always start immediately without any key button pressing.

All i've figured out is that if you always use the key, it works fine, if you try and mix them, you run into issues. Specifically locking with the fob, means you cant then unlock with the key.

I've been contemplating fitting some sort of aftermarket fob system, but for now it works well enough with the key so its been ignored.

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Richard, sorry to suggest that I thought that I had seen something by yourself, referring to using the 315mhz fobs. I have read lots of different messages on different forums, about the subject, and I got this one wrong. I did think that the NAS keyfobs would be, really, a non-starter, otherwise it would be a fairly common change. One thing that I find interesting, and I have suspected to be correct despite someone on another forum stating the opposite, is that strong wi-fi signals will disrupt the keyfob data. I have parked my P38 close to a local McDonalds, while shopping, and both times the keyfob couldn't lock or unlock the car, or if it unlocked the car I couldn't start it without going through the different key synching operations.

Thanks very much for the very full explanations, detailing the differences when using immobilisation, and using keys. When you mention the fact that having a new door latch should ensure trouble free locking and unlocking it did occur to me that perhaps the reason that I couldn't rely on the key, without seeing problems, was because the original door latch was running faulty.

I would agree with Aragorn, in that it seems using a combination of key and fob gives errors. I have a dislike of mixing different systems of operation to achieve a result, as invariably there will be a problem. In my work days I used to install ID card reading systems, which, funnily enough, also, often, had secondary systems using keys to access buildings, and I was always wary of using the two systems together, despite what the software programmers would tell me.

I think that I will program out the immobiliser, just to have one less thing to worry about when using the key. I am not sure that any local car thieves would be especially interested in a twenty year old P38, in the local B&Q carpark, when there are plenty of BMW's and newer RR's in the same area.

So thanks for the different opinions from our members, and hopefully I will achieve some sort of happiness while keeping the car reasonably safe.

Pierre3.

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hi folks, I'll try tagging this on here as it's current/active thread, and I've a very similar question, and I could really (really!) do with some help.

My car - 2001 m/y 4.0V8 - so a Thor/Bosch system - has been at the bodyshop. They've had it three weeks (two weeks for the job; 1 for covid). In all that time it's been in/out of their shop and worked fine. Today, when I go to pick it up..... the engine won't start, and the car will not open/close on the fob, even with the fob a couple of cm away from the receiver. There is a bloody great mobile mast less than 100ft away (but then why today, and not over the last three weeks?)

Car opens/locks fine using the key in the door. Tried disconnecting the battery - achieved nothing.

Even pressing the fob button before turning the key doesn't work. I can see the LED flashing, but the message centre still says 'engine disabled'. Fob battery is pretty new - did it myself about 12/18 months ago. When I say nothing is happening, I mean nothing is happening - no cranking, no nothing.

So as I see it my options are:
1) Go home and get the spare fob, and "hope for the best"
2) Go home and get the Nano, and turn off the immobiliser (Can I do that when it's "active"? / is it the 'right' immobiliser?)
3) Try the EKA code?? I'm an EKA code virgin, I don't even know if it's involved with the immobiliser? I don't know the condition of the door handle or its switches.
4) I have no option 4...(Edit - thought of an option 4 - maybe all the short runs, from yard to workshop have drained the battery a bit?? But I don't know why this would affect the immobiliser when the key is placed in the ignition and all the message centre and dash lights work OK?)

Beyond this, I think I'm going to have to turn off the immobiliser. I just can't have something randomly causing a problem like this. I appreciate it's probably not 'random' and that something will have caused it, but either way.

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i dont think you can fully disable the immobiliser. All you can disable is passive immobilisation, where the immobiliser turns itself back on when the car has been sat for X minutes.

In your case, if it was locked with the fob, and that fob is no longer working, you basically have two choices, use the other fob, or use EKA.

Ive had it before where the fob battery cover has turned while the key was in my pocket, disconnecting the battery contacts and clearing the fob sync.

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Thanks Aragorn,

So, the other fob 'should' work? And EKA will not only open the car in an emergency, but turn off the immobiliser?

If the fob sync was cleared, wouldn't it re-sync again if put into the door? I'm assuming the fob battery is connected, as I can see the light flashing whenever the button is pressed. Can't say whether it was disconnected in someone's pocket earlier today.

(There was a thread a little while ago about someone who 'does something' to the ECU to remove the immobiliser altogether. I read it, and filed it away, but it wasn't a priority until now.)

Off home shortly to get my spare fob and see how that goes.

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syncing the fob on mine required some dance with pressing the fob buttons while actuating the lock. I have a feeling later cars are supposed to be better/more automated at that process though

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Here is another, more permanent solution to allow starting with all of these issues.........

Just to update on my testing and continued use of Simon's emulator boards.
I have been using 2 of them on my 99 and 02 Bosch ECUs for about 6 months now, under various conditions, and am
VERY happy with the results. That is, being able to start the engines and go home no matter what I have done to annoy the
security system.
For those not familiar with this device, it is a small board that is installed in the ECU which will send the mobilization code to the ECU
each time you start the engine. This was designed originally to allow the use of the Bosch motor in race cars without the Becm being needed.
Installation requires soldering skills, but is not difficult. You also bypass the Becm starter switch circuit at the Becm. 2 wires, and some more solder.
This allows cranking when in an alarmed state by taking away the Becm's "Vote" on granting crank when the key is turned.
Once started whilst in an alarmed state, I have observed that all systems work normally. The only indication that all is not normal is the alarm light on the dash blinking. I would imagine, but have not tested, that the alarm horn may be triggered as well, but as my sounders are unplugged, I am not sure.
Only "Down" side, I have observed is that by bypassing the starter circuit, you can start it in gear, which annoys the transmission ECU, so a bit of care needed.......
By the way, I have working fobs for both and all door locks work as they should. In my case, this is an "Just in case the Missus is away from home, and the thing acts up, for any reason", she can get home and will hold off with the gallon of petrol, and a match..........
Missus insists that she be able to start it like any other car........This device allows that! Happy wife!
Again, I do not work for Simon, just like his boards! With fobs getting thin on the ground, this will keep more P-38s on the road! A good thing!

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Thanks Bolt - yep it was Simon’s boards I was referring to. Soldering - I have a solder iron, but zero soldering experience. Always managed to avoid it. This would be a bit of a negative for me, but either I could press-gang someone who does, or I could learn and practice first.

On my troubles today, I went down with the spare fob and it all worked OK. The doors wouldn’t work on the fob, so I had to open by the key. Then when I turned the ignition switch, there was a wee moment when I thought it wasn’t going to work, but it did, and the car is home.

The mobile mast next to the location is not very high, and a double-layered one, so I reckon the fobs were just being drowned out - though again, why today, and not during the previous three weeks??

Got home, and thought I’d see what the original fob would do. Nothing. Won’t open the car even in an environment with next to no extraneous radio interference. And, when I put the key in the lock, only the drivers door unlocked, and I got one beep from something - the alarm sounder?

There has been an ‘alarm fault’ on the display since the MOT a couple of months ago. Doesn’t seem to do anything and I was just leaving it until I put the roof lining back, and therefor the ultrasonic sensor. Relevant?

Does the car think it’s in the middle of the EKA procedure by some chance? If so, how does this reset? Should I just pull the fob battery and see if that works?

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Aragorn wrote:

syncing the fob on mine required some dance with pressing the fob buttons while actuating the lock. I have a feeling later cars are supposed to be better/more automated at that process though

Yep, I think all I need to do is put the key in the door lock - but that doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.

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Donmacn, I find the key and key fob synchronizing operation a pain in the danglies. Even though I have new handles, with new barrels, and a new drivers' side door latch I am still never quite sure whether the key has returned to the central position when synching. I tend to be very particular when doing this, but I always find that there is a tiny bit of play in the barrel, and I often wonder whether the twist of the key has been correctly registered.

As you are looking at the EKA operation don't forget to do the door lock barrel synch, as well. Insert key blade - press "Lock" button and with button still pressed twist key to "Lock" position, and return to centre while releasing "Lock" button. The car should now be locked. Next [and immediately] press the "Unlock" button and with button pressed twist key to "Unlock" position, and immediately return the key to the centre position while keeping the button pressed. The car should now be unlocked [ or at least the drivers' side door].

I usually find that you also need to press the "unlock" button while inserting the key into the ignition switch and turning on the ignition.

Maybe this may be of some help, if you haven't already tried it.

Pierre3.

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The fob uses a rolling code so if a button has been pressed too many times when the car can't receive the signal for whatever reason, the fob and the car are out of sync. On a ;later car it should resync automatically but it doesn't always work. To sync the key, put the key in the door lock, turn to lock, hold there, press and hold the lock button on the fob until the LED flashes faster, release the fob button then turn the key back to centre. Then repeat only turning to unlock and holding the unlock button on the fob. That should sync the fob to the car again.

To enter the EKA, you turn the key in the door lock to lock 4 times. On each turn the hazards will flash. Then turn to unlock to enter the first number. So if the first number is 3, you turn to unlock and back to centre 3 times, for the second number, it's turns to lock and so on. If, after entering the last digit, which will have been turns to lock, you then turn to unlock, all doors will unlock and you know you've got it right. You have to be slow and deliberate with the turns, a second a time works well.

I repeat, you CANNOT turn off the immobiliser. If you could, the car would never have passed type approval when it was new as all cars after sometime in the mid 90's (I could look up the exact date but can't be arsed at the moment) had to have an inbuilt security system that cannot be bypassed. I know the Nanocom allows you turn turn off Immobiliser but all that does is turn off passive immobilisation but the screen isn't wide enough to fit the text.....

If the car is locked with the key, it can be unlocked with either the key or the fob but if locked with the fob, it must be unlocked with the fob. I suspect while your car was away they were either locking it with the key or just not locking it but leaving it unlocked but parking inside the workshop.

There is so much bollocks around about the immobiliser system written by people that seem to have no idea how it works, or is intended to work even. Until I retired a couple of years ago, I spent over 30 years as an engineer for Ofcom tracing interference to radio systems, including, with monotonous regularity, interference affecting RAKE (Radio Activated Keyless Entry) systems. Some makes are worse than others but BMW, particularly the Mini, are affected more than most and bear in mind that BMW owned Land Rover at the time the P38 was built. There's two things that cause a problem, a relatively low level signal on the correct frequency, such as a wireless doorbell with the button stuck in, a faulty wireless weather station, an oil tank level sensor where the battery is going flat (for some unknown reason when working normally they transmit roughly every 20 minutes, when the battery is going flat, they transmit continuously) or any other low power device that doesn't comply with the legal requirements of 'Momentarily Operated Short Range Devices' as per IR2030.

The other problem is caused by a strong, local radio signal on a completely different frequency, or, even worse, multiple transmissions on different frequencies. A strong signal will overload the front end of the receiver and desensitise it. Think of it the same as trying to listen to a conversation in a noisy nightclub, you can't hear what the other person is saying because of the loud background noise. This is why you can get a problem if parked close to a transmitter site. Usually all you need to do is put the fob next to the receive antenna in the RH rear window, thus making the fob signal strong enough to drown out the other signal. BUT, if you have already been poking the button multiple times, then the rolling code will have rolled too many times for the receiver (well, strictly speaking, the BeCM, as the receiver just passes the received code to the BeCM) to be in sync.

Being close to multiple transmissions gets more complicated as we are then into the realms of internally generated intermodulation products but I'll leave that explanation for another day.....

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Thank you very much. For tonight I was happy just to get it back in my garage, and the battery on charge “just in case”.

I have one fob that’s happy; one that’s not.

The happy one was taken straight to the car, and used immediately next to the receiver. I can’t really say how they were using the ‘unhappy’ one.

I’ll try that sync process tomorrow. It seems to me that I haven’t had to use that in the past. Even when I changed the batteries I just stuck the key in the ignition barrel, and all was OK - though clearly that was with the car unlocked.

I’m going to print off the eka number and your explanation and leave them in a card in my wallet.

Would one fob need the EKA (if it was un-synced) yet the car would respond properly and happily to the second synced one? I find that quite funny!

Internally generated intermodulation…? Nope, you’ve lost me!

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Thanks for a very detailed description, Richard. I am interested in the fact that if the car is locked with the fob then it has to be unlocked with the fob. It was something that I always wondered about.

I will have to remember to not rush the pressing of the "Unlock" button if the car doesn't open immediately, in future. Perhaps patience is the "key" !!

Pierre3.

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I don't know how many presses it takes before the rolling code buffer gets out of sync, but yes, random pressing of the buttons when out of range of the car is not a good idea.

I’ll try that sync process tomorrow. It seems to me that I haven’t had to use that in the past. Even when I changed the batteries I just stuck the key in the ignition barrel, and all was OK - though clearly that was with the car unlocked.

That's the difference. If the car is unlocked the passive sync will work but not if it is in an alarmed or immobilised state. In the same way you will not be able to manually sync a key using the process in the door lock, if the car is alarmed or immobilised. You need to enter the EKA to turn the immobiliser off first.

I’m going to print off the eka number and your explanation and leave them in a card in my wallet.

I've got the EKA for both cars stored in the contacts on my phone as I'll always have that with me.

Would one fob need the EKA (if it was un-synced) yet the car would respond properly and happily to the second synced one? I find that quite funny!

Yes. The BeCM knows which key you are using so will know at what point in the rolling code it is expecting to receive. So while one key can be out of sync, the other one can still be. With my Ascot, the battery goes flat if it isn't used for more than about 5 weeks so I have to charge the battery and then both keys will be out of sync and it will need the EKA entering first. Being an early car it doesn't have the passive sync so I always sync both before putting one in the spare key drawer. That way if one key dies I can always use the other.

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A reply just to say 'thanks again' for the advice and support.

I'm delighted to report that synching the key in the door lock, turning and pressing buttons, worked perfectly. I know have two 'happy' fobs - and that makes me happy too!

I did wonder this morning why the car had gone from 'normal' height to 'extended' when parked overnight in a locked garage, on a perfectly level floor.... but that's one for another thread if it happens again.