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Replacement key confusion. Help!

Discussion in 'DIY (Do-It-Yourself)' started by joef, May 9, 2019.

    • Member

    joef

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    Please help! I recently picked up a 2001 325i that came with only one key/remote. I picked up a second key blank (w/remote) for this year and model and began shopping locksmiths to cut the key.

    All the locksmiths talk of them having to "program" the key as though it were something i could not do. One who has the laser cutter doesn't have the "programming tools". One who has the "programming tools" has a broken laser cutter. Both indicated that THEY would have to do it and that I could not.

    I spoke with the "local" BMW dealer (an hour away) and they told me that they would simply order a key from BMW - and we know that that would take seemingly forever and cost my first born. They went on to explain to me that all I actually needed (since I have an appropriate key blank available) is a locksmith who could laser cut it to match my existing key. Then I would merely have to "initialize" the keys as per the owners manual (push/hold two buttons) and - poof- I would then have two working keys with remote.

    So the information from the locksmiths and the dealership seem to conflict and have me thoroughly confused as to what I can and cannot do myself to end up with two functioning master keys. In my mind, "programming" and "initializing" are one an the same thing in this case. Or is this "programming" they talk of some different animal??
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Try the initializing steps outlined in the owners manual and see if it works, then at least you'd have that question answered.
    • Member

    joef

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    Roger that. However... If that doesn't work, I won't know if it's inaccurate laser cutting or if there needs be some sort of "programming" beyond the initializing. So I guess what I'm hoping to learn (before I start giving away money) is what exactly is the "programming" they all speak of. If it is just the manual's initializing, then I ought have no worries and can save a chunk of change.
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    From these two videos, my guess is what the dealer told you sounds correct - the first shows one electronic syncing/initialization/programming process for a certain year E46. The 2nd has a lot of detail and is worth watching, but they mention the ignition lock cylinder in the steering wheel where you insert the key having a transponder ring that reads the key. Presumably, that means that if you can't insert the key (meaning it needs to be cut to be able to fit) into the ignition lock cylinder, the EWS or car's electronics/security system won't be able to read the key. The 2nd video shows a different initialization/programming process than the first but part of it is still turning the key in the ignition, so you'd figure whatever's detailed in your car's owner's manual is the one to follow.

    Apparently the laser cutting is just the mechanical cutting of the key blank, so if the key isn't cut properly, it won't fit the door or ignition for you to get to the programming step. Watch the 2nd vid all the way thru, he shows how to program two keys for the same car at the end.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YcFN3Ns0yI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ6enooPkYs

    Sounds to me like if you get the key 'laser' cut to match yours, then you should be able to try the programming/initialization yourself & see if it works.
    • Member

    joef

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    Thank you. That has been my take on this whole deal as well. It's just been that so many people seem to make such a big deal about "programming" and needing special readers and software that is caused me hesitation. If it is just a matter of initializing as per the manual, then it's not a "big deal" at all for anybody. lol
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    • Technical Service Advisor

    charlson89

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    A blank key from online comes with no rolling code installed. Yes you can initialize the key buttons to the vehicle to unlock and lock the car but it will not start it. The laser cutting of a key is just so the key can turn in the tumblers of the door locks and ignition locks. The programming that everyone mentions is for the EWS (antitheft) of the vehicle. How it works is the key is programmed for the vin of the vehicle in a chip inside the the key called a eprom (electronic programmable read only memory). The key when turned in the ignition is read by a ring antenna that sends the random code from the key to the EWS module to say that this key belongs to this vehicle. The key needs to have this rolling code copied over and put into the blank one you have. Keys ordered through the dealer the code is programmed in from BMW since it was ordered with your vin. All the dealer has to do is start the car with the new key and initialize it. Hope that clears up some of the confusion.
    MGarrison likes this.

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