P38 Key/Remote Problems and Solutions


Functions of the Key/Remote
Battery Low
Buttons Worn Out
Unsolicited Lockng &  Unlocking by Remote
Emergency Key Access (when remote is lost or broken)

Functions of the Key/Remote
Aside from the normal functions of remote locking, the Range Rover 4.0/4.6 remote key controls the arming of the alarm system and the immobilization and remobilization of the Engine Control Module (ECM). When you put the key in the ignition, the "Passive Immobilization Coil" (Component # Z270 -- an inductive coil surrounding the ignition switch) is energized, triggering the remote to transmit a code to the BeCM which then remobilizes the ECM and allows cranking and engine operation to be enabled. This has the following implications:

1. Buying cheap key/remotes on eBay is unlikely to be successful, as you cannot program the remote with the unique code yourself.

2. When you get the "Remote Battery Low" signal on the message display, take heed and renew the battery, because if it dies entirely it may not be able to transsmit the code to the ECU so you will not be able to start the vehicle.

Battery Low

When the battery in the remote runs low, you will get a message on the dash warning you of the situation. Pay heed to it because as mentioned above, you won't be able to start the car if the key battery is dead.

Kevin Kelly reports getting the "REMOTE BATTERY LOW" warning on the dash of his 1998 Range Rover.  Ron Beckett informed him that he needed not one but TWO round CR 2025 batteries (the batteries are a little smaller than a nickel). The batteries are a common size and are available at most drug stores, pharmacies and camera shops (I bought mine at Walgreens). Kevin paid $2.99 for each battery (he has heard that the dealers charge over $10 for each battery).

Kevin reports: "It took less than five minutes to change the batteries. To get the old batteries out use a coin (a nickel works best) to turn the round battery holder counter about 45 degrees until the two arrows line up. The holder is a tight fit and I needed to use a very small thin screwdriver to pry it up. When I lifted the battery holder out I saw that it had an O-ring to help seal things up". (See photo at top of this page kindly supplied by Kevin).

"The old batteries will pop right out of the battery holder and the new ones will pop right in. After you make sure the O-ring is in place you can set the battery holder back on the remote (line up the arrows) and turn it clockwise to lock it back on."

After changing the battery you may need to resynchronize the key -- if so just stick it in the lock and lock/unlock the door, then press the remote controls.

Buttons Worn Out
The buttons on the remote/ignition key get worn out quickly, but can easily be replaced by just prying off and replacing the triangular plastic button insert on top of the key. (see photos below). This is available as a separate part, rubber pad
RCR4KEY3. The cheapest source I have seen is The Rover Connection who sell it for $5.

Ron Beckett reports that Land Rover sell this as a spare part  YWC000300 for about A$4 (US$3, GBP1.50) each - Don't buy them off eBay from the chap who sells them (with 2 batteries) for GBP15.

Jon Turner reports:
"Changing the button cover is ridiculously easy.  Mine was already cracked, so I just stuck a little screwdriver into the crack and levered the cover off.  The replacement one just press-fits right into place.  It is literally 30 seconds to do the swap!"



Ron Beckett kindly supplied this illustration of the button cover removal process, showing a new button cover ready to be pressed on.

Unsolicited Locking and Unlocking by Remote
I have found that the remote can sometimes easily be triggered in my pocket just by touching or bumping it. TSBartel reports a similar issue: "My 2000 Range Rover 4.0 had a tendency to repeatedly lock and unlock the doors while driving and occasionally while parked. This problem has happened twice since I've owned the car. The service personnel swear the issue is not the key fobs, but each time I've replaced the batteries and button keys (both very inexpensive) the problem has stopped within a couple of days and stayed corrected for a couple of years. Try this before going on to other, more expensive approaches. The batteries and rubber buttons should be replaced every few (3?) years anyway. Change the batteries and buttons at the dealership, you may need to reset the code on the fob - which is quite simple."

Emergency Key Access (Disarming Alarm & Starting Vehicle when Remote is Lost or Fails)
If you lock the vehicle with the remote handset and then you lose the remote or it fails, there is a procedure for getting back into the vehicle and disarming the alarm. According to the "Electrical" section of the workshop manual (not the Electrical Troubleshooting Manual -- which does not mention this), under BeCM operation, Emergency Key Access or "EKA” can be used in such a case. You still need the key part of the remote, though. The EKA process uses a series of locks and unlocks with the key in the driver’s door lock cylinder. For full details of this procedure, see the EKA section of the Alarm Operation & Diagnosis Page.  





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Page revised February 2, 2012