A week on the road with Vasile Croitoru

As I mentioned in our last blog article, starting this week, we will feature our mobile auto locksmith technicians with the good, the bad and the ugly. I was just kidding, no bad and ugly, just fun stuff. To kick off this series, the past week I have had the pleasure of being the co-pilot of Vas and here is how it went.
The auto locksmith technician Vasile Croitoru

About Vas

Vas joined Car Keys Solutions in December 2017 as a mobile car key technician. Before joining the current team, he has worked several other jobs like construction and advertising. When asked why the change he said ”the passion for cars which started to develop ever since I was little, interactive – being that I am communicating regularly with the customers or with the rest of my colleagues and the idea of self-improving. The most fun and yet challenging at times is the combination of computers and vehicles. Cars today should be looked upon as computers on wheels”. According to Vas, there are several reasons why the current position fits him well. “ Growing up, my dad would always have me around him when repairing his car for as long as I can remember. Of course, the repairs back then were possible because the vehicles were not that complex as they are today”. Smiling, he added “ back then, a screwdriver and possibly a hammer were the basic tools for most repairs needed. It was because of those times that I developed a passion for cars, that is of enormous help in my current position. The knowledge one acquires in terms of how vehicles are made and how to fix something when fixing is needed, it has to be perpetual. While the general idea of how a vehicle would work won’t change, how they’re made and the technology deployed into them whether for security reasons or just to be more efficient on the other hand changes every year. As I mentioned earlier, the vehicles should be looked upon as computers on wheels and part of my job is not only to cut a key or repair a car key but also look on the security side of the vehicle. What I mean by that, take, for example, a key is lost. In this instance, a vehicle owner would not be able to drive the vehicle until a new key is made. After this process is complete, the security of the vehicle comes into play, meaning all car keys would have to be deleted from the system because, if by an unfortunate luck someone would find the car keys, should not be able to open the vehicle or drive away. The process of programming and deleting keys from the vehicle’s memory is different from one make and model to another. After the end of the entire process of deleting old car keys and programming new ones, the only car keys that will be in the memory of the car are the one’s physically present.” When asked about what he enjoys the most about the role he has with Car Keys Solutions, he responded “while driving through London or the surrounding counties can sometimes be a bit harsh because of the traffic at the same time, I get to enjoy the sightseeing of all places that I drive through when otherwise I would most likely have to schedule a time to do just that.”

Highlights of some of Vas’ jobs

Before we go further, we just have to have a Disclaimer, about what the highlights of the jobs Vas has done while I travelled with him are going to be about. These highlights are meant for information and entertainment purposes and are under no circumstances a guide of How-To repair or replace any parts or electrical components. For that, we are working on adding a new section to our website, called How-To for DIY-ers. Please check back with us. Having said that, Car Keys Solutions its employees or representatives, will not be responsible for any damages that may result from any attempts of an individual car owner or others, for and not limited to any car repairs and parts or components replacements. As we have said earlier, the vehicles today are more complex than what they used to be back in the day. We are aware that certain repairs or replacements may be done without much help from a professional such as an auto mechanic or car key technician. Sometimes the simple thing that one can do, or so, one would think, may bring the vehicle to a halt and with that, a significant bill to pay to have the car running once again.

Nissan Primera 2001

A 2001 Nissan Primera, was our very first vehicle to attend to. The issue here was the car battery that went flat, mostly because it was an older one and in combination with the fact that our customer was not able to drive the vehicle for a few months due to the COVID-19 lockdown. In situations like this, when the car battery is flat and, and attempt to start the car, the ECU and IMMU modules will desynchronise. Therefore, it prevents the vehicle from starting. After scanning the ECU, we got 2 codes that were relevant to us as to what we needed to do next. These 2 codes were:

  • P1612 – interruption of communication between ECU and IMMU due to using a damaged key or wrong key;
  • P1610 – this code is defined as Lock Mode as it triggered when 5 consecutive attempts are carried out with wrong or damaged car key.

This is not an unusual event. It happens with some other older makes and models, and a re-synchronisation of the modules is required and sometimes re-programming the keys will get the job done, which was exactly the case here. A re-synchronisation of the modules and re-programming the car keys got the vehicle started once again. Other examples where the modules de-synchronise when the car battery goes flat are Vauxhall Astra H and Vauxhall Corsa D. With this in mind, car batteries are the least looked after components of a vehicle. Many will not even pay attention to it until one day it would stop working at the most inconvenient time in the most inconvenient place. The car batteries require a service per manufacturer specification to prolong its life but mostly to avoid the unpleasant situations where one can be put in if the battery would go flat. Here, you can read more about servicing the car battery and what are the other models that are experiencing the same symptoms as the ones described above.

BMW 118i 2016

The 2016 BMW 118i is our next take. In this case, the key was stolen. How it happened, you may ask? In this case, our customer travelled in a friend’s vehicle. At one of the stops, our customers forgot to grab the bag with all personal documents, including the only key he has had for his car and by the time they returned, the car was already broken into, and the bag was gone. The first step to take in remediating the problem was to unlock the vehicle. Next was to open the hood, and remove the DME- also called Digital Motor Electronics to read and extract the ISN code.
DME removal
The DME is a management system responsible for all the aspects of the engine operation for reliability, performance and last but not least, emission and optimal fuel consumption.
DME - Digital Motor Electronics-front
DME - Digital Motor Electronics-rear
After the DME was removed, the FEM module also known as Front Electronic Module needed to be removed as well in order to register the new keys. When these two steps are finalized, then the process of memorizing the new keys and deleting the missing car keys from the system would follow. Once these steps are completed it is time to wrap things up by cutting the emergency blade and mounting the DME and FEM module back.

What is the FEM module or Front Electronic Module role within the vehicle?

FEM - Front Electronic Module
The FEM module serves as the gateway between the footwell module(FRM), Car Access System(CAS), Junction Box Electronics(JBE) and central gateway module(ZGM). What are the functions of each module you may wonder? Here is a short list:

  • CAS or Car Access System:
    • Terminal Control;
    • Electronic Immobiliser;
    • Comfort Access;
    • Electronic Steering Lock;
    • Central Locking;
  • JBE or Junction Box Electronics:
    • Power window;
    • Wipe system;
    • Climate Control;
    • Seat Heating;
    • Mirror Heating;
    • Air Recirculation Control;
    • Rain-Light-Solar – Condensation Sensor;
  • FRM or Footwell Module:
    • Exterior Lighting;
    • Brake Light;
    • Interior Lighting;
    • Exterior Mirrors;
  • ZGM or Gateway Module:
    • The ZGM is acting as a control unit within a control unit, and its task is to connect all the bus systems as the end goal was to reduce the bus capacity by optimizing the wiring harnesses and with that, reduce the number of individual control modules which in return improves the component networking.

More about each module and each module’s functionalities you can read at bimmerscan.com.

Other jobs that Vas has performed while I was with him

Audi A4 2008:
Here, our customer accidentally locked his car keys inside the vehicle and required vehicle unlocking to retrieve the car keys.
Mini Cooper Countryman 2015:
The customer has lost the only key he had, and now, the services he needed from us were to unlock the vehicle, delete all keys that were not present and cut a new one and program it with the vehicle.
Renault Scenic 2005:
In this case, the customer needed a spare. Renault Scenic 2005 uses a key card which our customer kept in the pocket one too many times. Given its size, it is very easy to bend it to a point where there may be an issue starting the vehicle, after inserting the card in the dash. As a piece of advice, the key cards should not be kept in pockets as they can be easily damaged and can prevent you from being able to drive the vehicle. The damage doesn’t always show on the surface but is the electric components inside of it that may get displaced. These key cards are sealed from the factory, therefore, not repairable. When one goes bad it will need to be replaced.

The summary

While some weeks can be really overwhelming as far as the amount of work an auto locksmith can be subjected to, there are also days and weeks that are a little bit relaxed. That was the case for the week I have travelled with Vasi. It was busy just enough to have Vas answer questions about what he is doing and how he does it. For me, aside from seeing parts of in and out of London, I also have learned a few important things about cars that I feel compelled to share with you.

  1. DIY: Here is what you should know if ever tempted to get into a DIY with your own or someone else’s vehicle. Unless one would have prior knowledge and equipment to tap into the vehicle’s computer or other security modules, it is not recommended. Long gone are the days where the old school way would solve issues. Today, it is very simple to turn a minor problem that can be solved by a professional in no time at all into a serious and expensive repair.
  2. Security: We have made references in the past about how to keep your vehicle safe. It is very important to first have the car parked in a well lit and busy area but more important than that, leave nothing of value in plain sight as thieves would stop at nothing in getting anything that they may think might have value. I am not referring to money here. What I am referring to here though, is one’s identity being stolen or revealing the home address or any other address where thieves may later try to burglarize.
  3. Spare car key. If it happens that you would only have one key to use to either unlock and or start your car, do not delay and get a spare car key at your earliest and convenient time possible. A spare car key will always be cheaper rather than getting a new car key made when no working key is present. Do not think “ it will never happen to me” or “I will take good care of it”. This past week I have met people that they put off for the longest time getting a second key, and they’ve come to regret not doing it. A few scenarios that I got to see this week. Someone used the key to access the vehicle, locked the vehicle and left. When he came a second time to access the vehicle he realized that he had no key. Another scenario would be the one we just talked about earlier, where the car key was stolen from his friend’s vehicle when he forgot to take his personal bag with him. Should a second car key been available, the work needed to be done to program the new key wouldn’t have been that extensive.

Final thought

When you have Vas working on your vehicle, you can rest assured that you are in good hands. The work will be carried out as promised and at the highest standard possible. If you have any car key issues, do not hesitate to Call Car Keys Solutions at 0203 393 5669 or visit us at one of the two locations we currently have.