Roy's Matra Enthusiasts pages
FAQ's: Frequently Asked Questions
- I have a (Matra) Espace (series 1, 2 or 3) and the remote central locking doesn't work
with one or both key plips. Can I have my keys (plips) re-programmed?
No... but maybe they can be re-synchronised! Please understand the wording here. Re-programming means re-writing or altering the program in something. Re-synchronising is NOT re-programming. Most key plip programs are fixed and cannot be changed or re-programmed. This is why when a key plip has failed totally you have to order a new one from France to the chassis and plip numbers. They have to provide a new key plip with the same (fixed) program as the original. There are some new Renault models where a new plip or key card is blank and they can be programmed once to a particular car using the dealer diagnostic system currently called 'Clip'. Once programmed however, they are then fixed to that car for life. Only the new (all Renault) Espace 4 had these credit card type cards. Now however, even these have to come from France as they have stopped selling the blank cards, supposedly to improve security.
The Renault key is made up of three items. The physical blade with it's special cut that can turn the locks. This has a special number, and can be ordered as a separate item. Then there is the electronic part or 'Plip' as it's known, which also has a special number but this is different to the blade number. The plip has two functions for most keys in the U.K. The first is the remote locking feature that most people are familiar with. The second feature is the engine immobiliser decoding that allows only the correct plip to unlock the immobiliser and allow the engine to be started. Now some plips have both these features combined in the small electronic boards inside them. This was common with the early IR plip, and if the remote unlocking failed you could not start the car either since the action of unlocking also turned the immobiliser off. However, the later infra-red plips and all radio frequency plips have a separate chip for the immobiliser, and so if the remote locking fails the engine can still be started. Those few Renault cars without remote locking also had this separate chip since they did not require the circuitry for the locking function.
PLEASE NOTE: Many owners are not aware of the following. The remote locking of both infra-red and radio frequency types, including the new credit card types, use a rolling code system, so that every time the plip is pressed, the code changes. This means that you must use both keys over a short period, and not just the one, leaving the other totally unused. If one key is not used for a long time, it will get so far out of synchronisation with the changing code that it will no longer work. If you use both keys alternately, they'll both stay in sync. Leaving one key unused for a week or two is fine, but the more presses of the plip and therefore changes of the code, you do with one plip, the further the other gets out of sync.
If however, one plip gets out of sync. you can normally re-synchronise it quite easily. Note: this is NOT re-programming. Nothing is being changed in the key. So if you are worried that attempting this may mean they key will no longer be usable afterwards if the attempt fails, you can rest assured that this will not happen. If the attempt fails you will simply be back where you started.
Providing the plip is simply out of sync. if you carry out the following procedure you should be able to re-synchronise your plip. The system is almost the same for both IR and RF types, but you obviously need to point the IR plip towards the receiver. First switch the ignition on with the key you wish to sync. Do not start the engine. For a recognised key plip, the warning light on the dash should come on for a second, then go out. If the warning light flashes rapidly, then the key is not recognised, either because it is damaged or faulty, or it's the wrong one for the car; or on some types if it is completely new, it is because it has not been assigned to the car yet! In the latter case you cannot resync. the plip until it has been assigned to the car. This is why on some versions a new key cannot simply be bought and used. They have to be assigned, which involves diagnostic or dealer equipment.
Provided the warning light has gone out, now switch off the ignition and immediately press and hold the central locking button on the overhead console for about 5 secs. until you hear the locks go 'clunk, clunk'. N.B. this is not the locking response when you first press the button, it is the second response after holding for about 5 secs. It doesn't matter which side of the central locking button you press. You should now see that the dash warning light has come back on showing it is now in re-sync. mode. Whilst this is on (it lasts about 15 seconds) you need to press the plip(s) to re-synchronise it (them). [If the warning light does not come back on but starts to flash slowly again, the system is not in re-sync. mode and you won't be able to re-sync. the plips. This may be because there is a Cobra or Sigma alarm fitted. You need to disconnect this first, then try the re-synchronisation, and finally re-connect the alarm again afterwards.]
If it is an infra-red plip, press it several times until you hear the locks respond. If it is a radio type transmitter, just pressing it once should be enough and you will hear the locks respond. Do this with both plips to re-sync. them both if you have two. Note: these systems can only handle two rolling code plips, so you cannot attempt to re-sync. more than two plips to the car, unlike some of the newest systems which can handle up to four. (However, as far as I'm aware, you could have another with a chip that will start the car but without the remote locking. So for instance, if you have one with a faulty transmitter, but the chip still starts the car, you could have two fully functioning keys and keep this as a back up for starting.) The plip(s) should now be re-synchronised.
- My infra-red plip doesn't work. Is there anything I can do?
There are three common problems:
1) The battery or batteries going flat, or a battery contact problem.
2) An unused key plip getting out of synchronisation with the rolling code.
3) The infra-red emitter in the key becoming detached from the electronic circuit board.
NEVER touch the circuitry - hold the board by the edges. Static etc. can permanently damage electronics.
In the first case, simply change the battery or batteries (some have two), and/or repair/clean the contacts. You may have to re-synchronise after doing this. (see above)
In the second case, follow the instructions above. However, on the early Espace with infra-red plips where the immobiliser function is combined with the locking, this may not be possible without the unlock code, and a slightly different procedure. This is because, although the plip is the correct one for the car, when you turn the key in the ignition lock the warning light flashes quickly showing the immobiliser is still set. This has to be turned off manually first and then the plip can be synchronised. This is usually beyond an owner, without the unlock code, equipment, and knowledge of the exact procedure, so it will have to be done by a dealer or garage that knows what they are doing.
In the third case, check to see if the two soldered connections are good. I have come across many that have one or both contacts broken away from the board. Re-soldering them back is fairly easy and usually fixes the problem. You may have to re-sync. the plip after the repair.
- Tip when obtaining a new key Plip.
The number inside can be very difficult to read, and if you get it wrong, you will have to pay for the incorrect Plip obtained. So take your key to the Renault dealer and let them take the number from it. If they get it wrong, the fault is down to them and they will have to get another at their expense!
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This was last updated 5th April '21