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X3 F25 (2011 - current)
The latest X3 brings some added style and some new features to the BMW SUV family. Talk about the new F25 now!

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  #1  
Old 07-27-2013, 03:22 PM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Programming A New Key Fob - Very Easy - No Dealer Needed

I just purchased a 2011 CPO X3. Although the dealer knew one of the two key fobs was missing for almost four weeks before I closed on the car, they did nothing. Nevertheless, they finally sent me a new key fob (I live 250 miles from the dealer).

There was a lot of confusion about how to activate / program the new key fob. The dealership I bought the car from had no clue at all (BMW of Morristown, NJ) and offered no help - the salesman lost all apparent interest after I bought the car. I called a number of other BMW dealers and received a lot of conflicting advice ranging from make an appointment and we charge 1/2 to one hour of labor, to, you can easily do it yourself but we don't know how. After finally receiving the new key fob, I called the local BMW dealer (Burdick - Syracuse, NY) to make an appointment. Instead of just making an appointment, the service advisor put me on hold and went to some effort to find out if an appointment was really needed. This is what the she accurately told me.

Simply take the new key fob and hold it against the marked spot on the right side of the steering column and then start the car (obviously a working key fob is needed). That's all it took to activate the new fob. In fact, the Nav screen immediately popped up with a request to name the profile associated with the new key fob.

Since there was so much confusion I thought I would at least post something that is searchable in case anyone else needs to do this in the future.

Last edited by RhoXS; 07-27-2013 at 03:25 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2013, 06:04 PM
TerraLvr335i TerraLvr335i is offline
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Thanks for posting! Great info!
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  #3  
Old 07-28-2013, 11:10 AM
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Excellent post. Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2013, 05:23 PM
NoI4plz NoI4plz is offline
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Is it just me or is that too easy...so if anyone has access to my keys, they can simply buy a new fob, and place it next to key mark near the column and they have a new key....security flaw anyone?
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2013, 06:59 PM
TerraLvr335i TerraLvr335i is offline
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Fair point, but if they have access to your keys and the car itself and they have less than honest intentions, creating a new fob is likely the least of the security problems.
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2013, 07:14 PM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoI4plz View Post
Is it just me or is that too easy...so if anyone has access to my keys, they can simply buy a new fob, and place it next to key mark near the column and they have a new key....security flaw anyone?
Well, maybe not quite that easy. It does not appear one can just "simply" buy a new fob without a VIN and proof of ownership. In addition, I have heard the vehicle has to be with you when you go to the parts department to buy the new fob. BTW, my new fob came with the integrated key already cut for my particular vehicle.

In other words, if I understand it correctly, this procedure works only with a new un-activated key that is not readily available to anyone without positive proof of ownership (like having possession of the vehicle). Even once you have a new un-activated fob, it is necessary to have a working key also to start the car with the new one next to the steering column.

It does not appear to me this presents any practical security threat but, since I have no experience steeling cars, I might be very na´ve about this.
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  #7  
Old 07-29-2013, 05:32 AM
The X Men The X Men is offline
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Almost too easy for my comfort
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  #8  
Old 07-29-2013, 06:28 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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  #9  
Old 07-29-2013, 08:48 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
Nice , newer bims getting smart
I think it has been this way for years. A few years ago we lost one of the keys for our 2002 Z3. I could not ordera new key over the phone with just the VIN and a credit card number. I had to take the car to the local BMW dealer so I could prove it was really my car before they would order a new key (for an obscene proce).
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2013, 06:42 AM
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Glad to know... subscribed just in case...
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  #11  
Old 07-30-2013, 06:31 PM
JDB46 JDB46 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhoXS View Post
I just purchased a 2011 CPO X3. Although the dealer knew one of the two key fobs was missing for almost four weeks before I closed on the car, they did nothing. Nevertheless, they finally sent me a new key fob (I live 250 miles from the dealer).

There was a lot of confusion about how to activate / program the new key fob. The dealership I bought the car from had no clue at all (BMW of Morristown, NJ) and offered no help - the salesman lost all apparent interest after I bought the car. I called a number of other BMW dealers and received a lot of conflicting advice ranging from make an appointment and we charge 1/2 to one hour of labor, to, you can easily do it yourself but we don't know how. After finally receiving the new key fob, I called the local BMW dealer (Burdick - Syracuse, NY) to make an appointment. Instead of just making an appointment, the service advisor put me on hold and went to some effort to find out if an appointment was really needed. This is what the she accurately told me.

Simply take the new key fob and hold it against the marked spot on the right side of the steering column and then start the car (obviously a working key fob is needed). That's all it took to activate the new fob. In fact, the Nav screen immediately popped up with a request to name the profile associated with the new key fob.

Since there was so much confusion I thought I would at least post something that is searchable in case anyone else needs to do this in the future.
I picked up my 2013 X3 this month at Tenafly BMW and was also Missing a Key. They ordered it and when I came in even the SALESMAN knew that. Those were the exact instructions he gave me. I have CA so for good measure I opened the car via the handle. Then walked the current key a reasonable distance away from the car. Then did exactly what you mentioned above, hold the key up against the steering column and turned the car on then off. And to test it I got out and locked and unlocked the car. Amazes me that some dealerships don't train their people.

Last edited by JDB46; 07-30-2013 at 06:32 PM.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2013, 09:05 PM
scottjays scottjays is offline
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I wondered what the key symbol on steering column was for.
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  #13  
Old 07-31-2013, 01:31 AM
02420X3 02420X3 is offline
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The key symbol on the steering column is also where you place the key fob to start your F25 if the key fob has a weak battery.
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  #14  
Old 07-31-2013, 05:03 AM
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Where can we get a fob for a decent price. Please post or PM. I like having a 3rd(spare). Thanks for posting.
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  #15  
Old 07-31-2013, 02:25 PM
NoI4plz NoI4plz is offline
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Getting a key fob aint that hard....said Nicholas Cage in Gone in Sixty 2: The Great BMW heist lol
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2014, 05:53 PM
cheadley cheadley is offline
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Program Used Fob

Ok,

So I read all of the instructions here and decided to purchase a fob from ebay that was salvaged from a wrecked x3 -- exact same model and year (2011 x3).

Anyway, I read and reread the directions, ordered the key and tried to program it. Now that it has completely failed, I have reread the instructions and now I notice that everyone specifically talked about it being a new "virgin" key that they have programed.

Does anyone know how to reset the used key to a new state so the car will pick it up? Is that what my issue is? If there's no way for me to do it, can I take it to my dealer and let them do it?

Thanks,
Chris
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  #17  
Old 01-03-2014, 07:51 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoI4plz View Post
Getting a key fob aint that hard....said Nicholas Cage in Gone in Sixty 2: The Great BMW heist lol
It is not that hard but you do have to provide BMW with some specific information.

A few months ago I bought a third key fob for a family member. I had to show BMW my driver's license and registrtation. The key fob was sent to the dealer with the mechanical key already cut. I do not know if the electronic fob was totally virgin or if it could only be mated to my specific BMW. I think the latter but I do not know. Once I had the fob in my hand it could not be mated to my car unless an already mated fob was also there.

The BMW dealer I bought the FOB from is 35 miles away. They allowed me to email them a copy of my driver's license and registration. I guess if I was really intent on getting a fob for some elses car I could have created bogus documents. However, that still would have not have allowed me to use a credit card with a name matching the registration and BMW records as to who owns the car and this I suspect would have caused them to ask me to come in to buy it. In addition, even if I did get them to sell me a fob associated with some elses car, I would still need to have, in my hand, a working fob for that car in order to mate the new fob so it would be usable. In other words, with enough effort, ingenuity, and resources almost anything can be scammed. Nevertheless, I am not losing sleep about someoine stealing my car by buying a key fob for it, actor N Cage not withstanding.
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  #18  
Old 01-03-2014, 09:48 PM
newyankee newyankee is offline
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Wanted to thank RhoXS for starting this thread.

I purchased a spare keyfob a few months after getting a 2014 X3. As I expected, ID and the registration was required for purchase, and the fob and key arrived separately. They made a big point that I needed a 1 hr service appointment to program the fob because I had the comfort access option.

I remembered RhoXS's post while researching my X3 purchase, and declined the service appointment.

The fob had no effect on the car until I followed RhoXS's original post. In my case, the I Drive system didn't do anything relating to the new fob, but it was off (and just booting up) as I started the car with the new fob in position.

To my surprise, everything worked, including the comfort access function! So I guess the secret is that they want 1 hour of service to hold the fob in position and start the car. Hummm....

I'm new here, but it sure seems like you can learn much more about BMW's here, than the dealerships.
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  #19  
Old 01-03-2014, 10:34 PM
Coder Coder is offline
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I think there's a little more to it than obtaining a key fob with a key cut for your vehicle.

Each key has a unique code which must be recognized by your car. These codes are permanently stored in the CAS (Car Access System) along with the VIN during assembly. This is why they need your VIN and only BMW knows your vehicle's codes. This code is encrypted. The key, referred to as the ID transmitter or transponder, sends its code to the vehicle when requested. If the fob battery is very weak, holding it on the spot marked on the steering column provides enough power to the fob (induction?) to enable its transponder to respond to the CAS request for its code. The Car Access System (CAS) decrypts the code, compares it to the code stored in the CAS, and enables unlocking and starting the car. This happens every time you unlock and start the vehicle. Apparently, the CAS is always searching for a key fob it recognizes. Another one of those small but constant battery drains.

An older manual stated that the CAS could recognize up to 10 key codes, allowing for loss of 7 fobs over the life of the car? If the CAS has to be replaced, it must be replaced with a new unit programmed for the VIN and new key codes (and new key fobs). Sounds expensive.

All this is based on my interpretation of some BMW manuals; it may be out of date and I'm sure it's more complicated than what I've said here. If someone has a better understanding or contrary info, please chime in.
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  #20  
Old 01-04-2014, 07:16 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coder View Post
Sounds expensive.
The third fob I bought cost $325.60. Yes, it is expensive.

When I and my siblings grew up and reached the age to driver, my Dad made sure we all had keys to both cars. We never had to ask for keys when we used a car. That was certainly not a license to use the cars anytime we wanted but it was an important statement in trust. That tacit message was not lost on me or my sibs. From that perspective the $325.60 I spent on the third fob, although a lot more than just making a few metal keys, was not expensive at all.

Last edited by RhoXS; 01-04-2014 at 07:18 AM.
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  #21  
Old 01-04-2014, 09:20 AM
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Does anyone know if the law that passed in California years ago regarding locksmiths having complete access to proprietary key manufacturers ever came true ?

If an independent locksmith can get the BMW key, can they sell and code it ???
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  #22  
Old 01-04-2014, 12:28 PM
Coder Coder is offline
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Pat_x5,

To recode a BMW key, one would have to have access to the key codes in the target vehicles CAS and the encryption key to decrypt them. Probably not impossible but way, way beyond the abilities of any would be thief. No security system is perfect but BMW's is pretty darn good.
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:27 PM
Coder Coder is offline
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For those with "inquiring minds" (okay, there are probably other descriptions as well), a bit more info on the Car Access System, purloined from a BMW manual titled Car Access Systems with a revision date of 07/2011.

The system used in the 2nd generation X3 is the Car Access System 4. This system was introduced on the F01 in 09/2008 to integrate with the Comfort Access functions. The key fob is referred to as the ID transmitter. It need only be somewhere inside the passenger compartment for the engine to be started. Its battery life is approximately 4 years. Up to 8 ID transmitters can be used for a vehicle. Four of the eight can be used for personal profiles.

When the START-STOP button is pressed, it triggers the search for an ID transmitter in the passenger compartment. When performing the passenger compartment search, the Car Access System 4 issues a request for an ID transmitter to register with the vehicle. There are two antennas provided for the passenger compartment search. One antenna covers the front of the passenger compartment and the other the rear. The Car Access System 4 sends out a signal with a frequency of 125 KHz through the antennas. [This is a very short range radio transmission, something akin to that used on a metal detector.] That signal triggers the ID transmitter to register with the vehicle. The ID transmitter responds with an encrypted radio signal. The Car Access System checks whether the ID transmitter belongs to the vehicle. Subsequent communication takes place on the ID transmitter's transmission frequency, e.g. 315 MHz. If the check is positive, the Car Access System 4 enables terminal control. This allows the engine to be started, providing all other requirements are met (like foot on brake pedal).

In unfavorable situations (defective ID transmitter, interference with radio transmission to the ID transmitter, or a discharged battery in the ID transmitter), the system may not be able to find the ID transmitter in the passenger compartment. In that case, the Car Access System initiates display of a message on the instrument cluster to notify the driver that no ID transmitter could be located inside the passenger compartment. The ID transmitter can be held in the position marked on the steering column. There is an emergency start coil under the steering column trim. Communication between the Car Access System 4 and the ID transmitter can be established via the emergency start coil so that the engine can still be started and the vehicle driven. By communicating via the coil, the Car Access System 4 is able to identify a valid ID transmitter. Thus the Car Access System 4 is able to issue the start enabling signal following successful identification.
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  #24  
Old 01-12-2014, 02:08 PM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Coder - Thanks for the effort to post that description. That information is very interesting and I am glad to know it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:38 AM
Spyder1963 Spyder1963 is offline
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Interference question: If my wife, as a front seat passenger, has key fob #2 in her purse is there going to be any conflict? If we both approach the car to get in and she happens to grab her door handle before I do does her profile take precedence? Or if I do the unlock and her fob is just present what happens? I know I can change profiles on the iDrive menu or door button but, if this does in fact happen it could be a PITA. OR, when I travel alone (have yet to take any trip with fob #2 in the car) I would take the 2nd key fob as a spare and most likely have it in my suitcase in the trunk. Will that cause a problem or conflict? If there are RF conflicts any suggestions for shielding one of the fobs? Tin foil??? My EZ Pass transponder came with a little plastic bag similar to an anti-static computer/memory chip bag to quash its signal, but I can't imagine that would suffice for a fob.

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