This E53 X5 was the perfect example of something I’ve previously explained, to the effect that, as your car gets older, the dealer isn’t necessarily the safest place to go for a new key.
This non remote key, is aftermarket, and, as far as it goes, perfectly acceptable. It starts the car and it will open the door and operate the central locking via the driver’s door lock.
However, when we examine things a bit more closely, it could have cost the car’s owner quite significantly.
When I looked at the immobiliser information, there were four keys programmed to the car. Again, of itself, not unusual or problematic, but I immediately noticed that all four keys – which obviously, must include this aftermarket key – were in the first four slots.
Generally the first two, or sometimes three, slots are taken by the keys issued to the car when it was built, leaving seven or eight slots available for subsequent new keys.
Remember that every time you use the key to start the car, the code is changed.
If you go to the dealer and order a new key, the first thing they’ll do is take your money – approx £170 for one of these – then order a key from Germany. In Germany, they’ll look at the immobiliser information and create the first unissued key. If there were two keys at build (as in this case) and no other keys supplied by BMW, they’d issue key number three. If they’d issued new keys previously, it’d be key four, or five, and so on.
However, in this case, the aftermarket key had been programmed to position three – which *must* be the first slot after the two factory build keys.
BMW obviously don’t know about this aftermarket key, and using it even once will change the code for key three from the factory setting.
That means that any key ordered from BMW for this car would have been a waste of £170 and wouldn’t work!
Two important lessons to be learned here. Firstly, the dealer really isn’t your best bet for a new key, and it’s not all about cost. I’ll read your immobiliser data today, not guess what it *might* be, based on information that might be 20 years old.
Secondly, always use someone who understands EWS – the BMW immobiliser system, also used in 2002 – 20006 Range Rover L322s, and pre 2007 Minis, along with some others – and how it works.
I specialise in keys for BMWs and related marques and, unless there are no other options, I’ll never put a new key into the first available position. That leaves open the possibility that you, or a subsequent owner, can go to BMW and get a new key that will work.
Every time I see an aftermarket key in one of the early slots, I know that a key has been added by someone who doesn’t *really* know what he’s doing.
I hope this information is useful and if you need a new key or any information or advice for any BMW, Land Rover, Range Rover, Jaguar or Mini vehicle or immobiliser or module issues, please get in touch.