Thoughts and advice on the care and feeding of fine automobiles from Machine Aficiionado and bestselling author John Elder Robison, owner of JE Robison Service in Springfield, Massachusetts

We are independent restoration, repair, sales and service for Audi, BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Rolls-Royce automobiles.

Bentley archives

Land Rovers

Most high end cars have two parts to their keys. There is a mechanical key blade that physically unlocks a mechanism, and there is an invisible electronic component that talks to the security system in the car to authorize starting.

That’s why you can’t copy keys at a locksmith anymore . . . they can duplicate the mechanical part, but without the electronics the key is useless. Even worse, if the lock turns without the electronic authorization, the alarm may go off and the car may enter a locked-down state that necessitates a tow to the repair shop.

Programming or coding keys for Range Rover 4.0 and 4.6 - 1995-2001

The pushbutton keys are numbered Key 1 through Key 4. When ordering a key, you specify the number. You can only have one of each number. So for example, if you have a Key 2, and you order a second Key 2, only one of those keys will work the remote locking system.

The keys are identified by stickers which unfortunately wear off with time. The result: you kind of take your chance on key numbers when ordering new keys, unless you have the foresight to write your numbers in your owner’s book.

Synchronization of keys on these models is pretty easy. Put the key in the driver door. Turn it to lock while pressing the lock pushbutton. Hold for 5 seconds. Turn to unlock, press unlock and hold 5 seconds.

At that point, the vehicle should lock and unlock via pushbutton. If you cannot synchronize any keys the switches in the door latch may be bad, and I suggest you attend to that right away as the car will be stranded is security sync is lost.

Programming or coding keys for Range Rover – 2002 to 2005 and BMW 7 Series 1995 to 2001
This version of Range Rover was designed while BMW owned Rover, so the key programming is shared with the big Beemers . . .

1 Make sure the vehicle is unlocked and the doors are closed with windows down (so you can’t lock yourself out by mistake)
2 Put one of the keys in the ignition and turn it to the first click and then back off within five seconds to put the car into initialization mode. From this point, you must continue key programming within 30 seconds or the system times out . . .
3 Remove the key from the ignition
4 Press and hold unlock button for up to 15 seconds. While doing this, press the lock button three times within 10 seconds.
5 Release both buttons
6 If you did this right the car will answer you by locking and then unlocking the vehicle. If this does not happen, repeat from step 4
7 Repeat steps 4 and 5 with all the other keys for the vehicle (maximum of 4)

Discovery 1999-2004

The pushbutton keys in Discovery II models can only be coded by a shop with the Autologic, T4, or IDS diagnostic systems.

Programming or coding keys for LR3, LR4, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport – 2005 and up

The pushbutton keys in these models can only be coded by a shop with the Autologic, T4, or IDS diagnostic systems.

(c) J E Robison Service

John Elder Robison is the founder of J E Robison Service, independent Land Rover specialists in Springfield, MA.  John's shop has supported Land Rover owners since 1987. They are experienced at all aspects of service, repair, overhaul and restoration.  Find Robison Service online at or on the phone at 413-785-1665.


bardwatcher said...

these are useful tips! thank you!

Justthisguy said...

Why do people continue to buy these things? Are they insane, or what? I have read your older post about new cars not having dipsticks, etc. and was all WTF?

What are these rich yuppies going to do when the ongoing collapse of Western Civilization really gets going? I miss my 1983 Mazda B-2000. An honest truck it was, and got 37mpg on the highway. (I had to go easy on the throttle with low octane gas to avoid the pinging.)

That truck had exactly one integrated circuit in it, an op amp having to do with the wiper delay timing. I despise, loathe, deprecate and abominate all forms of electronics in motor vehicles. I swear I wanna get me a Model A with mechanical brakes!

I now have a '98 F-150 which is mechanically ok, I guess, but has a digital mind of its own. I hate that stuff.

If (no, WHEN) Western Civ continues its downward slide to hell, I reckon boutique businessess like yours may get on right well for a while, but we folks who have to live in the real world of few and expensive service technicians to work on our necessary vehicles which we can't fix, by ourselves, in our driveways, are going to be SO screwed!

What I was leading up to with the above:

I hope to God that you are not intending to vote for that batshit-insane perfect example of a criminal Massachusetts democrat, Martha Coakley!

Kevin Cooper said...

Just purchased a 2000 Land Rover Discovery. Already in the shop for head gasket coolant leak problem on drivers side head. Wish I had found these articles prior to purchase. Would have thought twice about purchase or at least know where to look for problems. Expensive lesson as the initial estimate for repairs to the heads will exceed what I paid for the vehicle. Q: was under the impression 2002 and later Discoveries were fitted with the Buick inspired aluminum head/block engines. Was under the understanding 1998-2001 were BMW designed motors? I'm I mistaken?

John Elder Robison said...

The Buick-designed engine was used in all Land Rover v8 applications through 2002. It continued in the Discovery II through 2004.

The BMW engine was used in the L322 Range Rover from 2003-2005. Later Range Rovers, and all other newer Sports, LR3, LR4 use a Ford-designed 6 or 8 cylinder engine

We service them all at Robison Service

Kevin Cooper said...

Thank you for the clarification regarding the Buick/Land Rover Discovery engines. Based on everything I've read the engine design is seriously flawed and I can expect many problems now and in the future. Most unfortunate as I really like the vehicle. reminds me of my old 86' Isuzu Trooper. Rugged and basic.

John Elder Robison said...

The engine has its flaws, but so do all other limited production vehicles.

David Rodgers said...

i have an 03 HSE and i insert key and it only turns 1/8 in. maybe....any advise please, signed "what did i get myself into"

Sam Khan said...

I have a 2005 Freelander, would the procedure be the same as for the Range Rover – 2002 to 2005?

Etienne Benade said...

Bought a 1999 disco 2 series 2. Only had one key. Key on the floor and stepped on it. destroyed the pc board and buttons no longer function. Can I have another key cut without the remote buttons. will it start the vehicle? Can anyone help. thank you.

Quandry said...

The remote key on my 1997 Land Rover was beginning to be intermittent. I followed instructions for replacing the battery, now it will not work at all. The LR seems to want to resync but without success. I tried locking then pressing a button. And pressing a button and then locking - both of which I have been told are resync methods, But with no success.
Any advice appreciated.

Unknown said...

I lost the keys to my range rover 2002... Can i buy the egnition switch and key from a 2004 and install it on my 2002 rover?? .. Buying the key alone is to expencive... I foind this on a wrecking yard for $100 key and egnition

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