3-Series (E46, E90)Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.
My 2003 BMW 325i has a rebuilt title. Since I bought it a couple years ago, it has generally been fine, with no evidence of ever being rebuilt, except a good mechanic had to do some rewiring to correct the outside temperature sensor. He said although I live in Florida, the car thought I was in Alaska. That's why my A/C kept failing when it rained and the windows got all foggy. Anyway, that's not a problem anymore. But here's the real kicker. I have always had only one key for this car and I have been worried that if I ever lose that key I'd be out of luck. So I went on Ebay and got a programmable replacement key. It turns out the replacement key could be programmed to lock and unlock doors and trunk, etc. However, it was a blank key and had to be cut. Car Max said they could do it, and did cut the key, but said they could not get it to start the car. They did not charge me anything (good guys). So I went to the BMW dealer and they could not program it either. Here's the kicker: they said that my key did not match the vehicle ID. Somehow, in the past someone had changed the key and related communication with the engine from another vehicle. The BMW dealer just said "don't ever lose that key" otherwise I could never get the car to start again. They also did not charge me for their efforts. It seems strange to me that someone with a little computer/electronics savvy could not get a new key to work with this car. Is it true that it is impossible to program a replacement key to work with my transponder even though it is not the one that originally transponder with this car? By the way, that's the best I can describe the situation as explained to me by the dealer, and I'm still not sure if I am explaining it right. Thanks for any advice.
I don't completely understand how the the BMW ignition key system works, except that it has something to do with a chip in the key and a transponder somewhere in the car. Also, some programming through the computer somehow might be necessary. It seems that maybe the chip has to match up with the transponder somehow. I could not believe that a BMW dealer having a working key in hand for the car could not make another key work with the car.
I did not really understand the dealer's explanation of the situation. I gave him my spare key that I bought separately on ebay. That key was successfully programmed to open and lock the doors and trunk by pushing the buttons. Carsmax cut the key blank to fit in the ignition and it turns the ignition but nothing happens. They could not get it to work. The dealer tried and since the car has been rebuilt they said something about the duplicate key not being able to be programmed to work with the car. I still do not understand why. I don't know what the mechanics did when they rebuilt the car that would stop a duplicate key from working. BMW said that when they put my original key in some sort of reading device it was not the original key that should match that vehicle ID. In fact, they said something to the effect that not even BMW could make another key for me that would work with the car, and my best bet was to make sure I "never lose the key" I have, otherwise the car will never start again.
To fix this problem correctly you'll need to replace your DME, dealer will charge about $1300 including programming and getting you keys that came with your car based on the VIN. Or you can buy a used DME, EWS and key cylinder with required keys from a junk yard for the doors and trunk
i've got complete set of what you need from 2004 325i sedan but don't take my word check with the dealer. Ask them how will you ever get this key done right and they'll tell you you'll need to change the DME, EWS/CAS.
The AutoGuide.com network consists of the largest network of enthusiast-owned enthusiast-operated automotive communities.
AutoGuide.com provides the latest car reviews, auto show coverage, new car prices, and automotive news. The AutoGuide network operates more than 100 automotive forums where our users consult peers for shopping information and advice, and share opinions as a community.