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The Keyless Remote Dance (Step-by-Step)

The Keyless Remote Dance (Step-by-Step)

BMW Z3 Keyless Remote

When I received the spare key for my coupe, I was disappointed to find that there was not a second keyless remote attached to it. I have yet to use the spare key, and it appears that none of the previous owners ever did either based on its condition. But things like that bother me, so I’ve kept an eye out to pick up a spare. Last week, I was fortunate enough to come across a Craigslist ad in California with a remote listed. I did a quick Google search to see if you could reprogram the remotes yourself without paying the dealer $70 to do it. I came across a great November 2002 article on; the instructions sounded so ridiculous and fun, I just had to try them. I contacted the seller of the remote, and he was more than happy to ship it to me. He even threw his two spare remotes into the deal just for good measure. Thanks Matthew!

To give a little background, each remote has a unique identification code that you need for your security system to recognize. The goal of the following process is to get your security system into learning mode, so that you can register your new remote’s ID. On a side note, if you lose one of your remotes, you can also use this process to delete it’s ID from your system so that it can never be used again (without reprogramming).

Phase 1 – Initialization

These steps just to get you to the starting place of the process.

  1. Remove the key from the ignition
  2. Close both doors, the hood and the trunk/hatch
  3. Use your current remote or key to disarm your security system by unlocking the doors

Phase 2 – Activate Code-Learning Mode

Before you start, read these directions several times through. You must complete these 5 steps in 45 seconds or less (and in order) or code-learning mode will not be activated. Also, be sure to have your new remote(s) with your before beginning this phase (you’ll see why later). Here is where the fun starts…

  1. Open the trunk/hatch and leave it open
  2. Open the driver’s door
  3. Sit in the driver’s seat
  4. Close the driver’s door
  5. Put the key in the ignition and switch it between the “off” position and “position 2” (ignition on and all dash lamps illuminated) and back 5 times in rapid succession. This was the trickiest part for me as all 5 cycles must be completed within a total of 10 seconds (and within the 45 seconds for all five of these activation steps). Also be careful not to start the engine during this process of you will need to begin this phase again.

If you have successfully entered code-learning mode, your security system status LED light (mine is down near the heated seat controls but installations can vary) will stay lit and your siren will chirp once (even if you have the chirping disabled).

Phase 3 – Registering Remote ID Codes

Like I said before, be sure you have your new remote(s) with you when you enter the car during phase 2.

  1. Remain seated in the driver’s seat and leave the key in the ignition
  2. Open the driver’s door
  3. Close the driver’s door
  4. Press and release any button on the remove you want to register with your system

The status LED will blink off to confirm the ID has been registered. Repeat Phase 3 for each of the new remotes you want to register.

Phase 4 – De-Activate Code-Learning Mode

Once all your remotes are programmed, you need to exit code-learning mode and return the car to normal operation.

  1. Open the driver’s door
  2. Exit the car but leave the door open
  3. Close the trunk/hatch
  4. Now close the driver’s door

If successful, the status LED will turn off and the siren will chirp twice. You can now test your newly programmed remotes (amazingly it actually works).

Ending Notes

So the lesson is you don’t have to pay your dealership $70 to program the remotes for you. You can also pick up any used remote off of Ebay, Craigslist or a forums member and reprogram it to your car. Pretty cool huh? My 1.5 year-old daughter was looking at me like I was crazy during the process as well :).

I mentioned before that it is possible to delete ID codes from lost remotes. The security system can memorize a total of four different ID codes. When each new code is registered, the oldest code is dropped. Therefore, if you wish to delete an ID code, you can register your remote four times during Phase 3, so that all other codes are cleared.

Good luck and feel free to email me at if something is not working for you.

All the information in this article I learned from the article entitled Activate Keyless Remote written by Robert Leidy in November 2002. Thanks Robert!


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