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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 04-13-2008, 04:15 PM
woodland X3 woodland X3 is offline
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Radio Tower Interference with Key

I have had my latest X3 for 2-1/2 years. Before that I had an X3 for one year, and before that I had a 330i for 3 years. With each one of them, in certain areas around Washington D.C where there are radio or TV towers, the clicker will not open the car. In some areas, after you get in using the key manually, the button on the dash still won't work to unlock other doors. This does not happen in the other cars in our family (Audi, Acura, etc.). I am ready to give up on BMWs even though I love them, since it is not OK to have the key not work in so many places I go. Is this a common problem? Is there anything that can be done? The dealer acts like it's my fault or I'm crazy.
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  #2  
Old 04-13-2008, 04:36 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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I am an engineer in the DC area. I have been the Chief Engineer at several of the major players in the area.

This is extremely uncommon (nowadays) as I have taken my vehicle to more than 10 tower sites in the area. If it was normal my vehicle would be towed away from them on a weekly basis. Years ago I had to call friends to help push my vehicle far enough away from a tower site because I could not deactivate the alarm system on my vehicle. However, that was over ten years ago in my little GTI

I can make an educated guess for a fix by putting a ferrite "Choke" on the cabling that attaches to the transceiver of the remote key entry system (as close to the box it is housed). They can be purchased from Radio Shack for about $10 and simply snap around the cable. This helps to reduce or reject unwanted radio frequency (RF).

Unfortunately your local BMW dealer does not have the tools to test for this as it would take an oscilliscope and background in RF engineering to determine the interference. So their look is based on ignorance of RF interference and how it manifests itself.

Contact the local SBE chapter 37 (society of broadcast engineers). They may be able to recommend an engineer (if my fix doesnt work). Or PM me.

Last edited by Evlengr; 04-13-2008 at 05:34 PM.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2008, 04:08 AM
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X3 Skier X3 Skier is offline
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Happens in my area around certain parts of town. Nowhere near Radio Towers and works fine even right next to them. It seems common on BMW's at least here since when I asked about it, the SA asked if it happened near the University of Dayton Arena since anybody in a BMW who attends a game or other event there cannot use the fob to open the locks. Nhere are no Radio or TV towers within 10 miles of the facility.

The Satellite radio suffers from intermittent reception at other locations as well, again with no transmission towers or power lines visible.

Must be the Little Green Men held for observation in Hanger 18 at near by Wright Patterson AFB.

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  #4  
Old 04-14-2008, 05:13 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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To know what affects the key fob, we would need to know what frequency range it broadcasts on. I look into it.
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2008, 06:39 AM
sterfrydude sterfrydude is offline
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Our school has a radio broadcast antenna in my parking lot and my remote never works there.
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  #6  
Old 04-14-2008, 06:50 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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What's the frequency Kenneth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sterfrydude View Post
Our school has a radio broadcast antenna in my parking lot and my remote never works there.

AM OR FM? what frequency?
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2008, 07:19 AM
sterfrydude sterfrydude is offline
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It's FM 88.1 I believe.
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2008, 07:21 AM
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kjboyd kjboyd is offline
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hi all.. there is a SIB for this. it replaces the mirror with a home link mirror which is supposed to have better range.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf alarm distance.pdf (16.3 KB, 147 views)
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-----
2009 MINI Cooper Clubman - "Oxley"
Nightfire Red/NFR, Tuscan Leather, CP, PP, CW, Roof Rails & Aero Kit, 16" Bridge Spokes, Xenon, Auto, English Oak Trim & Wood Wheel, Alarm, Hi-Fi

-------

2007 Volvo S60 2.5T
2007 X3.0si PlatBronze/Beige
2006 X3 3.0i, Flamenco Red/Beige
1997 528iA, Oxford/Tan
1994 318iS, Black/Gray
1979 528iA, RubyRed, Tan
1971 2002, Sahara, Saddle
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2008, 07:30 AM
sterfrydude sterfrydude is offline
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Would BMW only perform this repair under warranty? Mine is no longer under warranty and I don't really care to mess with the dealer a whole lot... Thanks!
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2008, 08:04 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Thanks, Kev. The freq of 315 makes sense. A ferrite core choke should help eliminate this.

All that would need to be known is what cable to clamp it around.

A/D. Any schematics on this?
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2008, 08:19 AM
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X3 Skier X3 Skier is offline
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Thanks for the Service Bulletin. I will make an inquiry when I take my x3 for the Emission DME reprogramming tomorrow.

Cheers
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  #12  
Old 04-14-2008, 09:00 AM
BruceOmega BruceOmega is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjboyd View Post
hi all.. there is a SIB for this. it replaces the mirror with a home link mirror which is supposed to have better range.
Kevin,

Thank you for posting this, I saved a copy. Did you have this done to your car?

Bruce
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2008, 09:07 AM
BruceOmega BruceOmega is offline
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My wife's X3 has this problem at one location we visit on a regular basis (in Merrifield, VA). If she parks in the back of the parking lot, the remote doesn't work and she has to physically insert the key in the lock on the door. However, if she parks in the front of the lot, perhaps not more than 100' away, the remote does work.

Interestingly, in the same location where her X3 remote does not work, the remote on my 535Xi works without a problem.

Bruce
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  #14  
Old 04-14-2008, 09:18 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Bruce that is the main site area for several radio stations. So it is not surprising. Maybe they upgraded the 07's since mine was never affected.

One being WJZW one of my old stations. Sigh, no more Jazz.

The 535xi may have a different band or the transceiver is more powerful.

One thing that amazes me is how many X3 owners are in the VA/MD/DC area in contrast to others.
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  #15  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:07 AM
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kjboyd kjboyd is offline
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I never had an issue with it. I just "bought" a subscription to the SIB/TSB site one day and downloaded everything I could find on the 06 X3 i had.
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-----
2009 MINI Cooper Clubman - "Oxley"
Nightfire Red/NFR, Tuscan Leather, CP, PP, CW, Roof Rails & Aero Kit, 16" Bridge Spokes, Xenon, Auto, English Oak Trim & Wood Wheel, Alarm, Hi-Fi

-------

2007 Volvo S60 2.5T
2007 X3.0si PlatBronze/Beige
2006 X3 3.0i, Flamenco Red/Beige
1997 528iA, Oxford/Tan
1994 318iS, Black/Gray
1979 528iA, RubyRed, Tan
1971 2002, Sahara, Saddle
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  #16  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:15 AM
BruceOmega BruceOmega is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evlengr View Post
Bruce that is the main site area for several radio stations. So it is not surprising. Maybe they upgraded the 07's since mine was never affected.

One being WJZW one of my old stations. Sigh, no more Jazz.

The 535xi may have a different band or the transceiver is more powerful.

One thing that amazes me is how many X3 owners are in the VA/MD/DC area in contrast to others.
Thanks, I've noticed a lot of towers in that area. IIRC, my previous car, an '06 3 series, did not have this issue either.

Yes, this area has a lot of BMWs!

Bruce
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  #17  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:20 AM
BruceOmega BruceOmega is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjboyd View Post
I never had an issue with it. I just "bought" a subscription to the SIB/TSB site one day and downloaded everything I could find on the 06 X3 i had.
Glad you bought it. I'll talk to my wife and she if she wants to follow up on this. It's more of an inconvenience than a problem.

Bruce
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  #18  
Old 04-14-2008, 01:02 PM
rs6654 rs6654 is offline
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My '96 and '01 Isuzu Troopers did the exact same thing in some area's of Jacksonville, Florida. You could lay the remote against the window and it wouldn't work but get back home out in the country and it would work from over 100ft away.

Places with shoppng cart theft deterrent systems would muck it up too.
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  #19  
Old 04-14-2008, 02:25 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Again---a simple ferrite choke will help eliminate most of these problems. It minimizes "inductive" coupling.

Not to be confused with seductive coupling, Lol--Sorry every once in a while I try some humor.
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  #20  
Old 04-14-2008, 03:39 PM
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eldorado01 eldorado01 is offline
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it happens to me every time I go to get a a haircut. The key won't work and I have to open the door manually. If I move the car twenty feet, it works again. It happened to me in Charleston, SC. Everytime I went to a local mall and parked next to a Verizon store, the key didn't work.
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  #21  
Old 04-14-2008, 09:55 PM
rs6654 rs6654 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evlengr View Post
Again---a simple ferrite choke will help eliminate most of these problems. It minimizes "inductive" coupling.

Not to be confused with seductive coupling, Lol--Sorry every once in a while I try some humor.
I'm not that bothered by the fact that the remote doesn't work but I am considering a tinfoil hat.
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  #22  
Old 04-15-2008, 08:53 AM
PimoX3 PimoX3 is offline
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The issue with the remote range affected all X3's up to late-April 2006 build dates. While the early SIB to fix the issue used a Homelink mirror as a replacement, the newest SIB on this issue points to an updated part, which is what you'd get today if you went in to get it fixed.

I had this done about 6-8mos ago, and have not had a single instance of the remote "failing" since - the range is now relatively consistent. It took a little work at the dealer to get them to find the SIB, but the effort paid off and the problem was resolved.

Best of luck!

P.
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  #23  
Old 04-25-2008, 10:33 PM
SIR SIR is offline
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I have the same problem here in Milwaukee, WI. The remote does not work in certain areas. I'll try to raise this at my next dealer visit.
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  #24  
Old 04-27-2008, 08:18 AM
BM2W BM2W is offline
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The DC area is an RF nighmare, with all the embassies, fed, state, county & muni police departments, etc. all spewing Rf into the air, along with the usual assortment of radio & TV stations in a large metro area. It's a wonder that the locals don't glow or all have brain cancer (which might explain how Congress 'works')

IIRC, the DC metro area is BMW's largest US market, at last count there were, like, 8 or 9 dealers in & around the beltway. We moved from Falls Church to Santa Fe in the summer of '06. Driving is still fun here . . .
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