I thought this would be helpful for many of us buying used E36s and getting a variety of keys that each do different things. Master Key (dealership only; $75)
- Opens All Doors/Trunk/Glove Box and starts the car. If you have a 1995 to 1999 BMW your Keys will be chipped. Meaning that your car only starts when the chip is read by the ignition cylinder. It is a small dark grey magnetic object placed in the head of the key. Valet Key (dealership only; $65)
- Opens only the Driver's Door and Starts the Car. Does not do anything else. Intended for Valets, so they cannot open your trunk or glove box. This key is usually grey and is about equal size to the Master Key. Wallet Key (dealership only; $50)
- Opens All Doors/Trunk/Glove Box and starts the car. Intended to be kept in the driver's wallet/purse for emergency use only when the Master Key is unavailable(stolen or lost). This key is said by the dealership to be "disposible" for 1995 - 1999 cars with chipped keys. Meaning that the key will only start and drive your car limited times before the chip stops working. I have a chipped car and I've used my Wallet Key numerous times to start and drive car so I'm not sure how true that is. This key will be slim, small, black and plastic. Master Keys w/ Alarm Control Flip Fob for Keyless Entry (aftermarket; $$$ varies)
These Keys are sold as blanks and can be cut at very rare and specific specialist shops for about $20-$30. After cutting the key you can dissect either your Master Key or Valet Key and transfer the magnetic chip into the Alarm Fob body so the key fob can be used like a Master Key to start the car, etc... The Keyless Alarm control inside Fob body will either come with it's own aftermarket keyless entry alarm kit or can be program to work with the OEM Alarm or another aftermarket Alarm. Quality key fob like these are relatively rare to find online and once you get it, it may be difficult to find a local cutter that will cut it. And once you get it cut you will have to chip it, as well as connect the keyless Alarm functions. So it is a lot of work but the results can be very desirable. BUYING KEYS:
The OEM Keys can ONLY be bought at the dealership and they require only two things; Your Driver's License and the Registration Papers for the car. You must be the registered driver of the car to buy keys for the car so don't send your little sister or butler to get your keys. Also do not bring Titles or Dear John letters. You can also easily buy aftermarket blanks (as seen on ebay) and get them cut if you know a specialist that will cut it and if you don't need a chip in the key (1992 to 1994). SECURITY NOTE:
Do not keep your Valet Keys or Wallet Keys in the glove box or anywhere in the car. Thieves have been known to pry open glove boxes in search of Valet Keys. It is common knowledge that BMWs come with these keys so Theives take advantage of it.