If you have an EB, ED, EF, EL or AU (Series 1) Falcon, NC-NL Fairlane, or XG-XH Ute, you have a vehicle fitted with Fords Smartlock vehicle immobiliser.  This post explains common faults with Smartlock and how to fix them.

A state of the art system when first introduced, Smartlock can cause problems with starting as these vehicles’ electrical systems get older and less reliable. Smartlock was replaced in AU1.5 models by Smartshield – see below for more information about Smartshield.

Smartlock is a complex system which uses a combination of a specially coded ignition barrel, Body Electronics Module (BEM) and ECU program to ensure the safety of your car from thieves.  Smartlock has two main immobilisation functions that prevent starting your vehicle:

  • A starter cut in the BEM (EB-EL) or ECU (AU1), that prevents the vehicle from cranking or tuning over
  • An injector cut in the ECU, that prevents the vehicle from starting

Solving each of these problems requires a different plan of attack.  As we get lots of questions about Smartlock, we wrote this blog post to clarify and explain the most common fixes for these problems.

Smartlock Starter Cut – Engine does not crank

If your car will not turn over, the problem is most likely related to the starter cut.  Sometimes, in EB-EL Falcon, knocking the dash to the left of the steering column fixes this problem temporarily. The good news is that this is cheap and easy to fix! A permanent fix for EB-EL is to either:

  • Join the two starter wires that enter and exit the BEM to disable the Smartlock starter cut entirely
  • Remove and disassemble the BEM, and either replace the starter cut relay, or clean the starter cut relay terminals and resolder the relay pins on the PCB. Read this tutorial on how to repair the BEM for more information.

It is important to note that a J3 Chip can not fix the starter cut in EB-EL, as it is related to the BEM and not the ECU.

In AU1 vehicles, a J3 Chip will disable Smartlock, allowing the vehicle to start. In AU2 and AU3 vehicles, a J3 Chip will disable Smartshield in the same way.

Smartlock Fuel Cut – Engine cranks, but does not start

Smartlock has an injector cut, based inside the ECU.  If your engine turns over but does not fire, the problem could be the Smartlock fuel cut in the ECU.

If the Smartlock light is flashing on your cluster, or you have done an engine conversion and can not get the vehicle to start, use a noid light on an injector plug to see whether the injectors are firing while cranking the engine. If the injectors are not firing, this is most likely due to the Smartlock fuel cut. A J3 Chip can bypass Smartlock, and does not affect the central locking in the BEM.

J3 ChipA Stage 1 J3 Chip can bypass Smartlock or Smartshield and disable the fuel cut in the ECU when doing an engine conversion, or facing issues with Smartlock or Smartshield in your EA-AU Falcon. Disabling Smartlock does not affect the central locking remote.

Other Starting Issues

We often have people contact us about EA-AU Falcons that are not starting.  Not all issues are smartlock related, for example:

  • No fuel pump – Smartlock does not affect the fuel pump.
  • No relays / ignition power – Smartlock does not cut ignition power.
  • Can randomly stops – Smartlock can not stop a running vehicle.

In these situations we suggest going over all fuses and relays to make sure everything is working.  Also check all vehicle earths (battery to body and battery to block where fitted).

Other Smartlock Issues

Some owners have other failures with Smartlock, ranging from not learning new keys to door locks not opening.  These are internal BEM problems that can not be affected by a J3 Chip in the ECU.  We suggest checking Fordmods or BoostedFalcon for solutions.

It is important to note that Smartlock can not stop an already running engine, so if your car cuts out once running, the culprit is not going to be Smartlock.

Disable Smartshield on AU Falcon

AU1.5, AU2 and AU3 vehicles came with a more advanced immobiliser in the form of Smartshield. This system cuts both the starter and injection in the ECU if it does not get a coded signal from the key itself.

Re-pairing a key to the body module & ECU can be done using Forscan and our VGate iCar OBD2 scan tool. In many cases this does not permanently solve the problem, for example with faulty modules or in an engine conversion. In this case our J3 Chip can be used to disable Smartshield in the ECU and get an immobilised AU Falcon running again, even when the BCM is faulty or missing.

Credit to Daniel Martin for the image.