by Lorne Goldman

width= I woke up to a flurry of email inquiries this morning. The almost two decades old GEMS immobilizer problem reared its weary head once again on one of the Morgan forums. Sadly, the information imparted was apparently hard for many to understand and extremely dated. Most importanty, the world keeps finding new solutions for everything and Morgan GEMS is no different!,

The issue is a simple and a familar one. The GEMs immobilizer is known to regularly lose its communicative synchronization with the Body Control Module. In layman's language, the ignition key and the car lose their connection. So when this occurs, the vehicle engine will not start. There has been no permanent "fix" found, but it can be quickly cured by an immobilizer reset. This is not the tedius task it was many years ago but today's Morgan forums do not keep up on these things as they once did and bad information quickly goes viral, costing scores of owners unnecessary thousands and much frustration. :(

WATCHPOINT: The most current solution was found quite some time ago. I have given it out since then to those who have inquired directly. However, the Manual has become so large, that the updating list is years backlogged at my present pace. In most cases of specific one-model-only issues (pre-2004), the latest information is to be had by direct contact only. Alternatively, one can also try a google search.

First and foremost, there is no longer a need for a GEMS Morgan owner to spend £1000 (as a Morgan Forum recently suggested) on software devices like Testbook (originally $30,000USD!!) or the later simular devices like Rovacom or Faultmate, etc. I fiddle with the bespoke Morgan Dealer Diagnostic and Programming Unit> All these items are fun to work with for those of us who enjoy such things and it enables us to help others but don't bother with them if you are looking for a cheap simple, far less cumbersome solution to this immobilizer issue. You only need a quick reset solution.

A generic OBDII cannot do that but............

That quick reset can be done instantly with a newer thingie developed in the USA called the GEMstone Tool. The device resets the GEMS defaults and the immobilizer. It is very reasonably priced at £135. They are also being sold by retailers on for a bit higher. It takes no space so simply leave it in your glove box for the times you need it. It has no learning curve. Please don't waste a £1000 as recently recommended on the (shiver) TalkMorgan forum. They mean well but there is little reliable expertise and a lot of bad advice.

WATCHPOINT 2 Another big cause for wasted expenditures for Plus 8 owners is bad advice and confusion for part sourcing. For example, GEMS Morgans have a number of versions none of which reflect the Land Rover GEMS of the same day. The US Plus 8, 1998-2000, used an (excellent!)  bespoke Morgan variation of the GEMS system and UK/US Plus 8s, made from 2000-2004, used the Land Rover GEMS that LR used from 1994-1999, which requires some fixes to run reliably in a Morgan. Sadly, the factory and the community is confused as to what will work and why, despite the fact that the many successes speak for themselves. By 1999, LR had switched to Bosch Motronics, which Morgan never used. There are many other examples of such part confusion as Morgan often used variants on the standard LR fare. The LR suppliers will not know this any more than the advisers you may meet on a forum despite their good will. I thoroughly re-research everything before I give it out and yet I still riddle this Manual with cautionary warnings. It is impossible to keep thousands of pages constantly updated with new discoveries. When in doubt, contact me.
GEMS PLUS 8: History of Past Tools

To the right: This is the original Testbook

GEMS uses more than three times the sensors and inputs than the earlier Hotwire system. Many are very sensitive. There is very little that can be done with a generic OBDII reader. To manage GEMS, Landrover developed a notebook computer at the outset which they referred to as TestBook. It can be connected to the main diagnostic plug. These units were sold to LR dealers for 30K originally. Landrover was not too keen to sell it to consumers and the vital software was largely kept between their dealers.

  But this situation soon began to change. A company called Automotive Logic Technology, run by former Land Rover executives, developed it's own software   and diagnostic tool (picture below), called Rovacom. This was designed for the professional aftermarket and sold in the $5000 range in the later 1990s

In 2001-2004 Morgan itself sold their dealers their own diagnostic and security system unit for Classic Morgans. It could read Rover Hotwire and the Fords and reset the security systems. However, it could not go as far with GEMS as the Rovacom unit.

In the mid-2000s, a Testbook/Rovacom unit was finally made for the amateur garagiste. (GEMS ceased being a current operating systems for Land Rover in 2002 and in 2004 for Morgan). It was called Rovacom Lite  and it could be installed and used with domestic laptops. It was purchased with either all-vehicle or specific vehicle modules. The price dropped to $800.00

At the end of the 2000s, Rovacom Lite was dropped and a new product, from Blackbox Solutions, called Faultmate, became available. One bought a Faultmate base unit with the Morgan GEMS Plus 8 module for it. The Faultmate FCR was designed and manufactured specifically for Reading and Clearing all possible Fault Codes. Designed as a personal use item for individual vehicle owners, the Faultmate FCR will lock itself to the VIN of the first vehicle it is used on, however, this feature also acts as a theft deterrent, because there is little point anyone stealing the unit, as once used on a vehicle, as it wiill not work with any other vehicle. (It is important to provide this information to the thief before he steals it!!!) Each Kit came complete with a FCR Unit, an OBD/Interface Lead, a USB Cable and User Guide - everything you need to start Reading and Clearing your Fault Codes. There was another similar system sold, but eventually these gadgets go the way of all flesh (aka they are only available on ebay now at muchly reduced prices).

But by 2009 you could also get by with even less and at a much lower cost. Sadly, as the mainstream cars that have the system disappear, so do the fixes.  

UPDATE 2023: Sadly, there is a new GoMoG LAW: As complex higher tech automobiles become vintage (15-25 years), their owners are having harder time to get keeping them running as the mainstream using their components go to the breakup yard.


The newest suggestion (2023) for bypassing the 5AS and 10AS immobilzer from LUCAS are these fellows. My trade side friends have used the device and it works! The page is German but I have given you the English translation (Chrome). If it doesn't work, put it through a translator. 199 EU.  

Here is my Chrome translation

I am currently working and testing solutions. Watch this space.