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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 05-17-2014, 07:15 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: new york
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My Ride: 2001 325xi
Lightbulb something we should all know

our keys will die if they dont get used ofthen enough, and when that happens you either hack it or buy a new expensive key. When i bought my car months ago the dealer informed me that i will have 2 keys but can only use 1 because the previous owner had never used the spare. i tried using it and ofcoarse it didnt work, i looked up online and saw ppl hacking theyre keys which i didnt really feel like doing, so i just used my one key. i wanted to have a spare key just incase so i tried thinking of another way to charge it and it acutally worked!!!! i turned my car on with the working key, where i saw exposed key from the ignition, i held the dead key to make sure both metals made contact. i left it for about 30seconds, shut the car off and immediatly tried turning it on with the dead key, and BAM! it worked. now im using this key and alternating every other week or month just to make sure i dont need to do this again.
I thought this was awesome so i wanted to share.
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Old 05-19-2014, 10:02 AM   #2
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Old 05-19-2014, 12:37 PM   #3
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This is awesome and will save lots of us money. Thanks Fingers.
2005 330Xi 6-speed with Sport, Cold Weather, and Premium Packages. Titanium Silver/ Black leather, myrtle wood interior trim.
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:32 PM   #4
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i just wish i took a video or something, but i didnt even think of it at the time
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:30 PM   #5
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I have a dead key, so I wanna ask to clarify before I try this...

Just touch the tip of dead key to the small visible shaft area of on key? Thanks, sorry to ask, but just want to make certain before attempting.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:38 PM   #6
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The key charges via induction, so metal-to-metal contact shouldn't be necessary. You just need to hold it close enough to the key in the ignition to be in the field the ignition lock is generating for it to charge. I've read that some people have been able to recharge these kinds of keys by laying them on their electric toothbrush charging bases overnight even.
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:03 PM   #7
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Tangent got it, its up to you on how you do it. i just made sure the keys were touching, im not 100% if the charge comes from any sort of tumbler inside the ignition or some other German way but what i did worked. i will try to make a vid tomorrow to show clearer.
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:14 PM   #8
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Induction? Who knew? I wondered how a rechargeable key batt finds (+) and (-) polarized contacts shoving a straight metal key shaft in? Induction is magic! ... and our friend.

Thanks Tangent, another mystery solved.
Anything made can be made Better

Last edited by White_Knuckles; 05-19-2014 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:23 AM   #9
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Edit: Woops, I initially only read to the point where you were discussing hacking keys. However, the point still stands that you only need the charge on the key to operate the locks. The ignition functionality seems to pull enough charge directly from the induction. Was this somehow not the case for the rest of you?

I don't think this is true. I have an 01 330xi that was previously owned by a nice, and presumably light footed old lady. I got two keys when I purchased it. One showed clear signs of use, and the other was pristine.

One day my car was a no start, and for some reason I thought, hey maybe I'll try my valet key. Valet key started her right up. The driver key that no longer starts the car still will work just fine with the unlock and lock buttons.

So I decided to try the key that had clearly never been used in 13 years. This key started the car no problem, and after realigning it to the system, would operate the remote locks. However, I had to realign the key occasionally for about the next week before the charge finally was strong enough to last a day at work (12 hours). Most recently it has held charge for 3 weeks with no driving. (car has been on a lift during a seemingly endlessly expanding projext)

So, points to be made.
1) The module that controls code alignment for ignition can fail separate from the battery and from the remote lock function.

2) An unused and dead key can be reincarnated over the course of a week or so of normal driving. Realigning the remote lock functionality will be necessary each time the battery fails to hold a charge. The procedure is in your owners manual.

3) Carry your valet key with your normal key in case your rotating code module decides it's time to strand you. (not sure of the actual name of this specific module)

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Last edited by dwtomek; 07-07-2014 at 12:26 AM.
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battery, dead, dealership, fob, key

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