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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-06-2006, 05:10 PM
tkruger206 tkruger206 is offline
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Location: Seattle, WA
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Mein Auto: 2K 540iA
E39 Dimond Key Thread

Iím a frequent lurker on "The Fest" and I always see this question popping up...

"How do I program a key for keyless entry?"
"Where can I get a key cut?"
"How much do keys cost?" etc etc...


Here's the answers and someone sticky this thread!

** This thread applys to E39's that use the dimond key **

*******************
*** BMW E39 Keys ***
*******************


1) Full Remote Key (aka Diamond Shaped Key w/build in Remote)
- Cost -
$125 - $200 depending on the dealer, this cost should include programing of the keyless entry. (BMWCCA members should get a small discount)

- Summary -
Two of these keys where included with the original purchase of your E39 and are the primary keys for most E39 Owners.

- Uses -
This key will open every lock on the car (drivers door, glove box & trunk) and includes a built in remote to operate the
Keyless entry and factory alarm if installed.




2) Full Service Key (aka Key with orange light on it)

- Cost -
$35 - $55 depending on the dealer (BMWCCA members should get a small discount)

- Summary -
This key is not included with the car; it's only available from the parts counter at your local stealership.

-Uses -
This key will open every lock on the car (drivers door, glove box & trunk) and includes a small LED light built into the
key (like many of the older BMW keys, E30 etc.). It does not have any keyless entry or remotes built in.



3) Valet Key (aka. Grey colored key)
- Cost -
$25 - $45 depending on the dealer (BMWCCA members should get a small discount)

- Summary -
One of these keys is included with the original purchase of your E39 and is intended for use when valet parking.

- Uses -
This key will only open the doors and start the engine; it will not lock/unlock the glove box or trunk.



4) Plastic key (aka. Small plastic key for your wallet)
- Cost -
$15 - $25 depending on the dealer (BMWCCA members should get a small discount)

- Summary -
One of these keys is included with the original purchase of your E39 and is intended for minimal use. Carry this key in your wallet in case you lose your keys or lock yourself out of your car.
- Uses -
This key will only open the doors and start the engine; it will not lock/unlock the glove box or trunk. This key will wear out quickly due to its plastic so only use it in emergencies.



**************
*** RFID Chip ***
**************


Every E39 key (even the little plastic one) has an RFID chip in it which is coded to your car and acts as a starter disabler. When a key is inserted and turned on the car verifies this chip prior to starting the car. If the chip is not recognized by the car then it will not allow the engine to turn over. This technology has been around for many years and is used by almost all car manufactures now.

A common misconception is that the chip in the key talks to the car through the metal part of the key, however this is not the case. When you insert your key into the ignition the RFID chip sends a signal wirelessly to a receiver located in the ring around the ignition switch. Everything is done wirelessly.

RFID is the same technology used in the badges or touch-less cards issued to gain access to offices, gyms etc.

The RFID chip in your key can only be coded to your car by a BMW dealership and in most cases they will only code keys you
buy from them. In other words if you buy one of those un-cut keys from eBay the dealer will not cut it or code it for you
(they want to over-charge you!).


*****************
*** Keyless Entry ***
*****************


Most if not all E39's have this option and in most cases it includes the factory Alarm system as well. The keyless entry
part of your key is completely separate from the RFID chip described above. Any Diamond shaped key can be programmed to work with the keyless entry function of your E39. Obviously the key part and RFID will not fit your car but the remote part can be used to gain access to the vehicle.

Why is this important?

The dealer charges $125-$200 for a full remote key (diamond key) plus programming, this really bothered me since the parts guy at my local dealer accidently showed me the cost of these keys and it's around $60-$75. Like all BMW parts the dealer marks them up about 50-100%.

When I bought my used E39 it only came with 1 key; the full remote diamond key. I wanted to get an extra key in case I locked myself out. I was not going to pay $180 for the full remote key so the parts guy offered me the Full Service key for $45. Since it was a spare I figured that was the best option.


********************************
*** The cheap keyless entry solution ***
********************************


I then began looking around the forums to see about these eBay used keys and what could be done with them. Here's what I came up with.

Buy a used diamond key on eBay (does not matter which model BMW it came from, all diamond keys will work), should run you $15 or less if youíre lucky. When you receive the key, cut off the actual key part using a Dremel or grinding wheel, (you can use 40 or 60 grit sand paper too but it will take a while). Program the keyless entry part to your car using the following steps.

1) Unlock car w/your exsisting key.
2) Get in car and close all doors.
3) Insert your exsisting key into the ignition and turn to the ON position then turn off.
4) Remove the key from the ignition
5) Hold down the Unlock button and press the Lock button 3 times then release the Unlock button (must be done within 30 seconds)
6) Repeat step 5 for each remote you have (must be done within 30 seconds)



Put this on the key ring with your Full Service key from the dealer and you have yourself a keyless entry setup for under $100.


--- This is only the first draft of this - I know there is more to add - I also want to revise the layout. If anyone more HTML savvy wants to help PM me or send me an e-mail ( timothy.kruger@gmail*nospam*.com) <- remove the *nospam*
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  #2  
Old 07-06-2006, 08:19 PM
sc 540i's Avatar
sc 540i sc 540i is offline
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Nice post, pretty imformative, I wasnt aware of how many different types of keys there were.
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2006, 02:45 AM
nightkrawler nightkrawler is offline
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just remember "only four keys can be coded. if more than four keys are initialized the fifth key will become number one and the previous four will NOT be recognized".
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2006, 09:52 AM
The Sparo The Sparo is offline
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Mein Auto: SR 240sx and '97 540i
it'd be nice if you could cancel other keys.. meaning you bought a car from someone and worried they might try to steal it or something... just a thought
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2006, 10:01 AM
tkruger206 tkruger206 is offline
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Location: Seattle, WA
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Mein Auto: 2K 540iA
Whenever you re-program the keyless entry it clears out all previous remotes from the keyless entry system. Those keys will still work in the drivers door to unlock the car and the RFID chip will still work to start the car.

If you take the car to the dealer they can de-program the RFID chips so that those old keys will not start the car. <- this is handy when your ex has one of the keys to your bimmer!
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