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zachiepie 11-29-2012 04:15 PM

Broken key fob
The dude who owned the car before me dropped the key once, cracking the body and losing the unlock button. I've seen fob bodies on ebay (from china and such), but that just seems iffy. Places like pelicanparts don't even carry them.

Is the dealer the only choice for me?

BMWFatherFigure 11-30-2012 06:40 AM

Just about. Sorry.

zachiepie 11-30-2012 12:53 PM


E36 Phantom 11-30-2012 11:01 PM

If the electronics all still work, just get one of the empty cases for 8-12 bucks on Amazon or fleaBay and swap the guts over. They actually have pretty good reviews and I'm planning to do that for my E38 key that could use a freshening.

joyism5 12-01-2012 07:52 AM

Agree with E36phantom. If the key is still starting the engine, just buy the body. I changed the buttons on my key, I ordered from Ebay, China to be more specific, free shipping for $5. It's true that it took 2 weeks until I got them, but they matched. Buttons only.

QSilver7 12-01-2012 12:59 PM

If taking the route of buying a generic "new style" diamond-shaped key case & blade...first make sure that you have a local keysmith that has the equipment to cut the blade (its not like a simple house key). Secondly, make sure that you buy a blank that has the correct key blade. Not all blank keys sold on eBay have the correct blade for our style of keys. And third, make sure that you buy a key that has the correct RF frequency (315 MHz in the USA...433 MHz in Europe and some other markets). If the RF doesn't match...the the FZV/DWA receiver in the C-pillar won't receive the signal to lock/unlock central locking system & arm/disarm the car's alarm siren system.

Some of our key blades are similar to a sandwich...the section in the middle (the meat) remains solid and uncut...and the top & lower halves (the bread) are the ones that get cut. There may also be a notch cut into the blade near the head of the key. While some key blades are solid from the head to the tip of the blade...and the middle of the blade is cut-out on each side.

Also remember that many blank key vendors on eBay falsely indicate that you can get a BMW dealer to initialize the key to start your car...THAT IS INCORRECT. A BMW dealership has no way to program the EWS transponder inside the key to start your car. As far as programming the key to lock/unlock & arm/disarm (FZV/DWA) your can do that yourself following the instructions that have been posted here and every other BMW forum. Your key contains a transponder that is SPECIFIC to your car and has an ISN (individual serial number) that is assigned to it as well as your EWS control module and DME/ECU. So ALL of the guts/innards of your key will need to be transferred over into the new blank key case.

Good luck.

wattbmw 12-01-2012 02:11 PM

What is the typical cost for a new keys at the dealership?

QSilver7 12-01-2012 04:26 PM


Originally Posted by wattbmw (Post 7225429)
What is the typical cost for a new keys at the dealership?

There are several types of keys available...and each BMW dealership sets their own price...but in the list can see the general MSRP and what this particular dealership sells each key for:
  1. 3 button remote key (old style & new can only purchase the type your car came with)
  2. illuminated key
  3. general/spare key (metal blade)
  4. wallet/spare key (plastic)
  5. valet key (gray head & only operates the door & won't open a locked trunk or glovebox)

(check back if the image doesn't appear...the server it's stored on is having maintenance issues and may sporadically appear/disappear)

zachiepie 12-01-2012 04:35 PM

Nice info Qsilver. Can't imagine how many cars you've broken into with all that knowledge!

The advantage I have is that the innards work, so I just needed to transfer cases. I was just worried about them not fitting or whatever, but I'll give it a shot and let you know how it goes.


wattbmw 12-01-2012 07:33 PM

My keys work, but just thinking about getting new ones and checking options.

bluebee 12-02-2012 11:27 AM

Dunno what the key looks like for the E38, but these E39 links may provide useful hints for replacing the key body if yours is similar:

- How to replace the old-style BMW E39 square key battery (1) (2) (3) & how to replace the rubber key pads in the old style square keys (1) (2) & opening, charging, recoding, & battery replacement (1) of the new-style diamond key (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) & how to recharge off your BMW and how long a BMW key will last in the drawer before it needs that off-the-car recharging (1) & converting the old-style square key to the newer diamond shaped key (1) & the details on swapping the BMW diamond key transponder (1) & proper diamond key initializing (1) (2) & what to do if your key is locked inside your bimmer (1) & a description of the various types of BMW Remote, Illuminated, Spare/Wallet, & Valet/Service keys (1) (2) & a list of diamond key EWS, FZV, & DWA functions (1) (2) & all about the 10-key limit to programming your own keys at home (1) & a description of the ignition key ISN (individual serial number) ten-second rule (1) & what to do if you lost your only diamond key (1) or what to do if your BMW key was stolen (1)

QSilver7 12-02-2012 09:05 PM


Originally Posted by bluebee (Post 7226708)
Dunno what the key looks like for the E38, but these E39 links may provide useful hints for replacing the key body if yours is similar:

The e38/e39/e46/e53 are all generational siblings so things like "keys" are basically the same style. And if there are other models that were being produced during the 1995-2006 era that was from another generation (like the e36 & Z4) and used the same communication bus and keys...all of the info you posted will apply. :)

bluebee 12-03-2012 07:00 AM


Originally Posted by QSilver7 (Post 7227615)
all of the info you posted will apply.


Most of the best key information came from you in the first place!

So this user is in good hands!

zachiepie 12-03-2012 02:57 PM


Originally Posted by bluebee (Post 7228019)

Most of the best key information came from you in the first place!

So this user is in good hands!

Waaay more than what I needed, but I suspect I'll come back to this post MANY times! :thumbup:

wattbmw 12-04-2012 11:34 AM

I can't thank you enough for the info. I will likely purchase from this info.

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