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Old 01-26-2010, 10:31 PM   #1
elysium
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Key Problems

Hey all.

When i bought the 540i i got two keys with it, one of them includes the remote, which is the master key i believe, and then i got another key which is a valet key. no remote. the problem is that the master key will not turn on the car but it will unlock it using the remote. i asked the previous owner how this happened and he said that one day he tried the valet key to turn the car on and his master key stopped working. anyone know how to fix this problem and get the key working again?

thank you
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:30 AM   #2
flawless528
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elysium View Post
Hey all.

When i bought the 540i i got two keys with it, one of them includes the remote, which is the master key i believe, and then i got another key which is a valet key. no remote. the problem is that the master key will not turn on the car but it will unlock it using the remote. i asked the previous owner how this happened and he said that one day he tried the valet key to turn the car on and his master key stopped working. anyone know how to fix this problem and get the key working again?

thank you
+1 for dealer! When you go to the dealership make sure you bring the original (green) ownership papers from the ministry and of course your drivers license. The cost for the key with the new remote is just over $250, the reprogramming of the remote you can save money on by doing it yourself, it only takes a couple of minutes.

The '97 to '99 models use a simple mechanical imobilazation scheme, the key "track" is probable worn out.
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:23 PM   #4
elysium
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but i dont understand how using the valet key once could break my master key. im guessing its a transponder problem. even so why would it mess up. i still have my valet key which turns the car on so i wont be spending that much money. but i just wanted a spare key just in case. thanks though
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by elysium View Post
but i dont understand how using the valet key once could break my master key. im guessing its a transponder problem. even so why would it mess up. i still have my valet key which turns the car on so i wont be spending that much money. but i just wanted a spare key just in case. thanks though
As I said the '97 to '99 models use a simple mechanical imobilazation scheme, no transponder involved.

i bough the basic key as well, they are about $65, you will have to bring the documents I mentioned above to prove that you own the car.
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MLue1 View Post
As I said the '97 to '99 models use a simple mechanical imobilazation scheme, no transponder involved.

i bough the basic key as well, they are about $65, you will have to bring the documents I mentioned above to prove that you own the car.
That is completely incorrect. EWS was implemented in north american cars in 1/95 - with the chip in the key.

I did the data dump and made additional transponder keys for my 97 540 last year, I am 100% sure on this. If you cut a key that is 100% perfect mechanically, it will not start the car (unless you had just turned it on with a key with a valid transponder, like within 10 or 20 seconds).

I hope that helps the OP, not trying to start anything between anyone. The transponder is programmed by BMW with the data from when the EWS unit was created (the reason for the 10 keys max as well).

Let me know if I can help at all with any EWS questions. I will let you know what I do or don't know for sure.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:04 PM   #7
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so then... what can i do about it?? take it to the dealer and ask them why my ews isnt working?

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Originally Posted by 328i Cab View Post
That is completely incorrect. EWS was implemented in north american cars in 1/95 - with the chip in the key.

I did the data dump and made additional transponder keys for my 97 540 last year, I am 100% sure on this. If you cut a key that is 100% perfect mechanically, it will not start the car (unless you had just turned it on with a key with a valid transponder, like within 10 or 20 seconds).

I hope that helps the OP, not trying to start anything between anyone. The transponder is programmed by BMW with the data from when the EWS unit was created (the reason for the 10 keys max as well).

Let me know if I can help at all with any EWS questions. I will let you know what I do or don't know for sure.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:10 PM   #8
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so then... what can i do about it?? take it to the dealer and ask them why my ews isnt working?
I am not sure if they can reactivate a key that has lost synch (I've read that this can happen after many many uses). I know they can disable individual slots but they may just tell you that you need to buy a new key. Find out though because the labour charge to look into it could be only slightly less than the cost of the new key anyways. Keep the old one for lockouts or something.

FYI the valet key has the exact same transponder as any of the other keys. The only difference on an e36/e39 is that the valet key doesn't have the groove down the center so it can't go into the glove box or trunk locks.
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:31 PM   #9
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That is completely incorrect. EWS was implemented in north american cars in 1/95 - with the chip in the key.
Well if I am wrong then I stand corrected but that info was told to me last year by the parts guy, when I bought my new key, thats the regular key without the remote (not the valet key).

As I recall I was able to start the car at the dealership without them doing anything with the key or the car. If there was a transponder it would have to be programed so the car recognizes it would it not?
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:42 PM   #10
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Well if I am wrong then I stand corrected but that info was told to me last year by the parts guy, when I bought my new key, thats the regular key without the remote (not the valet key).

As I recall I was able to start the car at the dealership without them doing anything with the key or the car. If there was a transponder it would have to be programed so the car recognizes it would it not?
The transponder chips are coded by BMW Canada (or BMWNA in the US) when they cut the key. The EWS units have 10 slots (you get 4 keys with the car when new and you can get up to 6 more) that consist of two parts: the fixed code part and 'rolling' code part. BMW can make a key to the initial 'rolling' part of the code for each of the slots but as soon as you use the key once, the rolling part changes (and changes every time you start the car). That is the reason that you can only have 10 keys total for your car - if they are all lost the ews unit must be replaced because BMW doesn't have any more codes stored for the module because they have no idea what the rolling portion of the code is.

I have heard that sometimes keys stop working - pure speculation is that either: the rolling code rolled over too many times but more likely, there was an error in either communication or in the ews module itself for that slot. I can't confirm these, maybe someone else can chime in.

So when you get a new key from BMW, it will start the car right away as the chip is recognized by the ews.

Let me know if you have any more questions that I may be able to help with.
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:33 PM   #11
elysium
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i tried turning the car on with the valet key. and then turned it off and imediately used the master key. the car turned on. so i guess its transponders fault. and what you all are saying is that i cant program the transponder in any way? and my only option is to get a key from the dealer? i just wanted a spare key in case i lost my set of keys which includes both master and valet. then id be forced to buy a new key.
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by elysium View Post
i tried turning the car on with the valet key. and then turned it off and imediately used the master key. the car turned on. so i guess its transponders fault. and what you all are saying is that i cant program the transponder in any way? and my only option is to get a key from the dealer? i just wanted a spare key in case i lost my set of keys which includes both master and valet. then id be forced to buy a new key.
Unfortunately you likely will have to get another key. I would ask BMW if it can be re-synced but I'm not sure if it can (to be honest, the cost of the labour would likely be more than another valet key).

If you get another valet key, you can pop the transponder out of it and install it into your remote key housing and it will work again and you will have a spare lockout key. The plastic wallet key is a PITA to get the chip out of but the valet key is pretty easy (I can help you do it if needed).

Not sure if that helps but it's to the best of my knowledge. Maybe a call to the dealer to inquire would be warranted. Please report your findings.

-Todd
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 328i Cab View Post
The transponder chips are coded by BMW Canada (or BMWNA in the US) when they cut the key. The EWS units have 10 slots (you get 4 keys with the car when new and you can get up to 6 more) that consist of two parts: the fixed code part and 'rolling' code part. BMW can make a key to the initial 'rolling' part of the code for each of the slots but as soon as you use the key once, the rolling part changes (and changes every time you start the car). That is the reason that you can only have 10 keys total for your car - if they are all lost the ews unit must be replaced because BMW doesn't have any more codes stored for the module because they have no idea what the rolling portion of the code is.

I have heard that sometimes keys stop working - pure speculation is that either: the rolling code rolled over too many times but more likely, there was an error in either communication or in the ews module itself for that slot. I can't confirm these, maybe someone else can chime in.

So when you get a new key from BMW, it will start the car right away as the chip is recognized by the ews.

Let me know if you have any more questions that I may be able to help with.


Interesting info, thanks for sharing that

One thing though, when I got my new key from the dealer, it did not work, they had to program it when I went to pick it up....
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:42 AM   #14
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Interesting info, thanks for sharing that

One thing though, when I got my new key from the dealer, it did not work, they had to program it when I went to pick it up....
Was it the remote that they programmed, or the key itself? The remotes must be programmed to the car (but can be done very easily).
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