Smartlock PCB

Smartlock explained – how to fix common Smartlock problems and bypass Smartlock

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 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, 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 BEM starter cut.  Sometimes, 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 is to either:

  • Join the two starter wires that enter and exit the BEM to disable the Smartlock starter cut entirely (only recommended for engine conversions)
  • 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 as it is related to the BEM not the ECU.

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, you 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 will not affect the central locking.

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


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.  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 randomly, the culprit is unlikely to be Smartlock.

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.

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).


Credit to Daniel Martin for the image.


31 replies
  1. Avatar
    Mark Irvine says:

    OK so if I’ve got no spark, no injection there’s constant power a g coil no pulse it could be the ecu-fuel-system immobilizer cut. So how do I go about fixing it

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      As the article says mate, you need a Stage 1 J3 Chip to disable Smartlock/Smartshield. Drop us a note with details about the car and we’ll go from there!

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      Hi mate, drop us an email with the make, model, engine & trans type of the car and we’ll see what we can do.

      • Avatar
        Jay says:

        I’ve got a 98 AU ghia, just bought a used ignition barrel ECU and BCM. Lights all come on but still doesn’t start?

        • Avatar
          Jason Bolger says:

          Sounds like the new gear didn’t come from a matching car. Either pair the barrel to the BEM if Smartlock or look at a chip to disable Smartshield if it’s Smartshield.

  2. Avatar
    Anthony says:

    Hi there I’m doing a El xr6 engine and Ecu swap into a a standard xg ute. The Ecu has a phase 3 chip. Will I encouter problems with the smart lock when changing computers? Many thanks

  3. Avatar
    Wayne Alberts says:

    My XH falcon ute won’t start after Change new Bosh coil , Bosh new dizzy , leads it will start first go after resetting codes let it run for 60 min turn car off then won’t start until I reset codes.

  4. Avatar
    Evile Loli says:

    Hi Im new to Ford and I have a Fairmont and the smart lock light on the dash flashes when the car is off, is this normal?

  5. Avatar
    wayne says:

    After fitting a new ignition barrel to an EL falcon I have no wind over. If this the bem module where is located and can I disarm it?

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      A Stage 1 J3 Chip should get Smartshield disabled and get it running. Send us an email from the contact page if you’re interested. Cheers, Jason

  6. Avatar
    ed says:

    My xh over heated blew a welsh plug and now the injectors wont release fuel. Is this smart lock and if so how do i fix it without a j3. I dont believe buying a part that wasn’t there to begin with should be a fix for an ecu with a temperament

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      I don’t think the two issues are related, unless the welsh plug wet something it shouldn’t have. If the ECU is not receiving a smartlock signal from the body module, you’ll either need to replace the body module or override it with a Stage 1 J3 Chip. Given the many other benefits from J3 tuning, I am not sure why you would be against it.


  7. Avatar
    Phil says:

    I have xg ute, was going fine. Then started, ran for bout three secs and shut off. Now has no spark, what gives?

  8. Avatar
    Dom says:

    G’day mate, my EF falcon has been doing this where it stops the engine from turning over unless you give the dash a little knock. I have looked around about how to fix them but I’m not too keen with working on boards like this. Would you be able to do the mend on my smartlock or do you know of anyone that could mend it? Its an EF II Futura with the Blue smartlock box

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      Suggest you read the article mate as it gives you a free fix for the problem (hint: just join two wires)!


  9. Avatar
    darien connor says:

    Hi I am doing a t5 manual, xr6 engine and ecu swap in a 97 Fairmont giha it winds over but no power to fuel pump with the key on reds the smart lock flashes 3 times in series of 3 than constant flashing and I loose lights to my trip computer and climate control, will a j3 chip fix this?

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      No. Smartlock only affects the things mentioned in this article, not your trip computer power or fuel pump.

  10. Avatar
    Luke says:

    Hey I just changed the steering column and ignition barrel in my xg ute, had new keys cut, hooked everything up and now the smart lock symbol is flashing fast as long as the key is turned the on position.. the car won’t start, no starter, no spark

  11. Avatar
    Mark Hunua says:

    Hi have had a running issue with EB11 Xr8, wouldn’t rev and idled rough, the alternator was shot, pulled the main plug off back of alternator and revved and run perfect. Left car for about 4 weeks, battery went flat went to start car again and no firing up, turned over but no start. Have put another brand new alternator in and cannot get it fired up. I did notice that the fuel pump continually runs, as before turn key on and pump primes for a few seconds then stops. No engine light flashing, smart lock light only flashes when key turned off any thoughts cheers Mark

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      Looks like you’ve damaged the ECU somehow mate, the ECU should only prime. Suggest finding another EB V8 PCM and using a J3 Chip to convert it to EB2 XR8 spec. Cheers, Jason

  12. Avatar
    David Wallace says:

    Hi Have a 1998 NL Fairlane with 6 cylinder. Have a inconsistent staring issue where if the trip computer lights go out during cranking the car will not start. If I flick the ignition key back and forth and the lights on the trip computer relight the car starts. I have had the car die twice after a couple of minutes running. Otherwise the car runs smooth and starts first crank every time. Would this be a smart lock related problem? I have had BCM and ECM checked and they seem ok.
    Changed mistake in Email address.

    • Avatar
      Jason Bolger says:

      Hi David, Smartlock has nothing to do with your dash lighting. You have an electrical issue. Cheers, Jason

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