Thanks to BMW key fobs, you no longer have to search through your purse before getting in your car. Fobs can remotely lock and unlock your doors, open your trunk, and start your car. They essentially give you control of your vehicles at the touch of a button.
These nifty little devices make our lives easier. They even help prevent theft. But, if you lose or damage yours, they can be a real pain to replace.
They aren’t like regular keys. You can’t go down to your local locksmith and have them make copies. Rather, you have to search for a replacement that is compatible with your vehicle. You also have to program it with your car.
Luckily, we’re here to help. This guide tells you everything you need to know about BMW key fob replacement. Learn about ordering a replacement, programming your new BMW key, estimated costs, and more!
Reasons Why You Need a BMW Key Fob Replacement
There are many reasons you might want a BMW key fob replacement:
- Maybe you lost your current one and can’t find it anywhere.
- Maybe you want to get a spare for yourself or a family member.
- Maybe the BMW key fob cover and its internal parts sustained serious damage.
Whatever the case may be, these are all valid reasons for getting a BMW key fob replacement.
What If My Current BMW Key Fob Isn’t Working?
If your current BMW key fob isn’t working, it might be time to get a new one. However, don’t buy a replacement just yet.
Your BMW key fob’s battery might be dead. Key fob batteries need to be changed every so often, as they last around one to three years. So, before buying a replacement BMW key fob, change the battery.
Changing the Battery
If you have a newer BMW key fob, all you will have to do is remove the key fob cover and insert a new CR2032 battery. If you need to change the battery in an older BMW key fob, the process will be a little more difficult.
First, insert it into your ignition and see if it automatically charges. If it still doesn’t work, you will have to remove the key fob cover and replace the rechargeable battery. This requires a soldering kit. For more information on how to change batteries, click here.
In many cases, a battery change will solve your problem. But, if your key still doesn’t work, you might have to turn it in for replacement service.
How Do I Order a New BMW Key Fob?
So, you realize you need a BMW key fob replacement. Now what?
You can either visit an automotive dealership or use a third-party parts reseller. Which one you choose depends on the level of convenience you want and how much you’re willing to pay.
Let’s take a closer look at your two options:
Visit a Dealership
When they need replacement BMW fobs, many drivers go to their local automotive dealership.
The dealer will ask for your 17-digit VIN (vehicle identification number). You can find your VIN on the driver’s door jamb or near the front of the windshield.
The dealer will also take and verify your driver’s license, registration, and car title. This ensures you are the owner of the BMW vehicle you’re requesting a key for.
Once the dealer confirms you are the owner, they will sell you a key compatible with your BMW vehicle series. They may have the appropriate key fobs in stock. If not, they will order it and have you pick it up within a few days.
Note that all BMW key fobs need to be programmed. Some automotive dealers include this service as part of your purchase. Others will charge you an additional fee for labor. If you want to avoid the service fee, you may be able to program it yourself.
Call Ahead First
Another way to save money when going to a BMW dealership? Call first. Ask for a quote so they can’t change it (raise it) later. Also, shop around. Call other dealers to see if they can get back to you with a better deal.
Using a Third-Party Parts Reseller
Like most things in life, replacement BMW key fobs aren’t cheap. If you want to find the best deal, consider using a third-party BMW parts reseller.
Parts resellers tend to be much cheaper than automotive dealerships. Buying a third-party usually results in a replacement key at a much lower price.
Before choosing a parts reseller, do a quick Google search. Make sure the company is reputable. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing your money away on cheap, malfunctioning parts.
Once you find a reputable company, the process looks similar to going to a dealer. You’ll provide your VIN so that you can get a new key fob that’s compatible with your BMW. You’ll also provide documentation that proves you are the owner of your BMW vehicles.
After your purchase, the company will send you the key fob. Upon receiving it, you will have to program it for your vehicle. You can use programming guides to do this yourself.
Having a Dealer Program a Fob You Bought Online
You can also take it to a BMW dealer and have them program it for you. Note that automotive dealers’ policies may vary; some will not program a remote that wasn’t purchased through them. So, if you plan on buying a key online and having an automotive dealer program it, contact the dealer first. Ask if they will program a remote that you purchased from a third-party reseller.
How Much Is a Key Fob Replacement?
According to one report, BMW key fob replacements can be as much as $500. Costs may vary, depending on factors like:
- The makes and models of your vehicles
- What automotive dealer/reseller you buy from
- Whether or not you program it yourself
In short, BMW fob replacements aren’t cheap. You’ll want to explore your options before buying. Contact different automotive dealers and search third-party prices. See if you can program the new key yourself to save even more money.
A Word to the Wise
The best thing you can do is avoid replacement entirely. For instance, if you lost your key fob, search for it everywhere. See if you or your family members have a spare lying around somewhere.
If your key isn’t working, change the battery. This is much cheaper and less of a hassle than replacing the entire key fob. If just the cover is damaged, change the cover rather than get a whole new key fob.
How Much Does It Cost to Program a New BMW Key Fob?
You can’t just buy a new BMW key and call it a day. You will have to program it for your BMW vehicle to use it.
Some automotive dealers include programming in the cost of your new key fob. Others may turn around and charge extra for this service. The fees usually start around $50 and can be as high as $100.
Before choosing a dealer, start by calling. Ask for a quote so that they can’t change it upon arrival. Also, explore your options. This will make sure you unlock the best deal.
If you need to program additional keys, bring in all of them at once. Activating two or three BMW keys will be cheaper than just activating one. Plus, it will prevent you from having to come back.
Can I Program My Own BMW Key Fob?
$50 to $100 for programming seems expensive. Luckily, you can do it yourself for free.
It usually requires you to complete a series of steps (push a button three times, insert the key into the ignition, turn it to a certain position, lock/unlock the doors a certain amount of times, etc.). The process may vary depending on your BMW vehicle model and whether you already have keys synced. Search for directions specific to your car online. They will tell you what steps to complete and in what order (what button(s) to push, when to insert your key into the ignition, etc.).
Programming is relatively easy. It will just require a quick Google search and a little time. But, if you don’t see results, you might have to take it to an automotive dealer to complete the process.
They will likely charge for the service. However, the results might be worth the cost. They know the proper “push a button/turn the key/lock & unlock the doors” information for different makes and models. This will save you lots of hassle.
Other Perks of Key Fob Replacements
Key fobs do more than lock, unlock, and start vehicles. They have many additional perks.
For instance, you can program every BMW key with a unique driver profile. Every time a different driver gets into the car, the car will automatically adjust to their preferences. This is nice as you don’t have to play with the car menu to change the steering wheel and seat positions.
You can also use your BMW key to control the windows, mirror, and sunroof. Instead of using a menu, all you have to do is push and hold the lock/unlock button.
What If I Need a Deactivation Service?
Besides getting a replacement BMW key, you should also deactivate any lost ones. This will prevent a stranger from potentially having access to your car.
Luckily, most dealers offer a deactivation service. They will disable your former BMW keys, making them useless on your vehicles.
What About Digital Keys?
Physical keys are great. But, if you want something different (and even more convenient), consider BMW digital keys.
BMW digital keys are the next step up for your ignition. They allow you to operate your car right from your iPhone. They even let you give friends and family access to your BMW vehicles.
As providers continue to explore this technology, it will likely become more popular within the next few years. Click here to see what BMW models are currently compatible with digital keys.
No matter the reason you’re replacing your key fob, remember that you might just need to switch out the batteries. If that doesn’t work, do some research on local sellers and digital keys before asking the dealership for a replacement.
Next time you need a new BMW key fob, remember this guide! We have all the information you need for the process to be as painless and affordable as possible.