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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 07-15-2007, 12:08 PM   #1
luckysnafu
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Lightbulb DIY - Update your old square key (99-00) to the new diamond style key

Yes, many have said this could NOT be done, but I am here to prove them wrong, as I have managed to do it. I will describe how I have done it with pictures. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will refer to the newer style key as the diamond key and the older style key as the square key.

1. Obtain a used or new diamond shaped key (it should say 315MHz on the back). The key I used was from a 2003 car and the key has the newer raised symbols (unlock arrow and trunk picture raised up, not just printed on as those tend to wear off over time)

2. Take apart your old square key. Remove the two screws under the plastic cover on the back and pull the key apart.

3. Locate the transponder chip (or RFID chip) inside the key and remove it. It is located under the battery and circuit board. Here is a picture of the chip inside the square key:
The transponder chip is in the lower left corner.


4. Remove the transponder chip by prying it out or lifting it out with your fingernail, it isn't glued down, just pushed into place. Set aside and DO NOT LOSE IT!!!!

5. If you have a used diamond key, you will have to transfer the actual metal key from your old square key to the diamond key. This is not easy or fun but is possible. I dremmeled the plastic around the metal key on the square key to get it off.
This is what the metal key part looks like (minus a little part I had to cut off, explained later):


6. Open the diamond key by using a razor blade or utility knife. Carefully cut around the entire key and it will eventually come apart. There are my other DIY's on here on how to do this.

7. Remove the circuit board from the key body. This will leave you with the circuit board, the top half of the key with the buttons and the bottom half of the key with the actual metal key attached.

8. Remove the actual metal key from the diamond key by cutting away the plastic holding it on or use a dremmel to remove it.
Here is a picture of the diamond key cut apart with the metal key removed and my old metal key placed next to it:


9. Attach the old metal key to the new diamond key by gluing it in place. I ended up using superglue but you can use whatever you think will work best (gorilla glue does not work).
Here is my old metal key attached to the diamond key. In order for me to get the old metal key into the diamond housing I had to cut a small piece of it off (a little part that stuck out to the side)


10. The tricky part that nobody could figure out before is removing the transponder chip from the diamond key. The transponder in this key is wrapped in copper wire on the circuit board. It is located in the upper left corner in this picture:


11. Remove the transponder by prying or cutting it off the circuit board. You must remove the copper wire and the two black end units with it. This will also remove the inductive charging system so you will need to replace the battery with a non-rechargeable battery.
Picture of the board without the transponder:


12. Remove the rechargeable battery from the diamond key. There are a few DIY's on this site on how to do that, here is a good one with pictures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=451510

13. Replace the rechargeable battery with a 3V battery, such as the one from your old square key. I went to radioshack and bought a new 3V battery, model CR2016. It is slim and fits into the diamond key very well. There is also a higher capacity battery, the CR2032, but it does not fit into the diamond key since it is too thick.

14. Place the old transponder from your square key into the housing of the diamond key. I fit it into the space where the original transponder was. Here is a picture of where I put it.


15. Now it's time to put it all together. Put the diamond circuit board back into place, make sure that your old transponder fits in the right place and doesn't press too hard on the case or the circuit board. I ended up supergluing the case back together, but you can put it back together however you wish. Here is my final key pictures:



16. Reinitialize the key so that the remote will lock/unlock your car. There are lots of DIY's on how to do this, just search for them.

17. After you get the remote part working, just put the key into the ignition and start the car. You now have a diamond key that works on older cars

I am now in the process of getting an uncut diamond key which I will use to replace my other older square remote key. The new key will not require me to cut the actual metal key part and swap it which will make things a lot easier and cleaner. If you buy an uncut key, you will obviously need to get it cut, but for the swap you only need to remove the transponder and replace it with your old one and replace the battery with a non-rechargeable one, pretty easy swap to get the newer key design for your old car. I have already ordered an uncut diamond key and will update this thread when I get the swap completed.
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:02 PM   #2
Yasser E46
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Excelent Topic!!

Congrats!

I dont like my key (the old) i will now search for the new key to swap it!!

Thanks!!!
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:04 PM   #3
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what about the flip out keys? can i switch to that somehow?
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:09 PM   #4
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what about the flip out keys? can i switch to that somehow?
I would have to look into it. If you can find a flip key that uses the correct frequency, I don't see why you couldn't switch out the transponder chips and get it to work.
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:26 PM   #5
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Awesome DIY! Although, by the time you track down an old key, or buy a new one, gut it and transfer all the parts, wouldn't it just be easier to pay the $120ish at the dealer and have them cut you a new "diamond" key?
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:39 PM   #6
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OMG this is amazing. I want this soooooo bad.

I hate the old key.
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:58 PM   #7
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Awesome DIY! Although, by the time you track down an old key, or buy a new one, gut it and transfer all the parts, wouldn't it just be easier to pay the $120ish at the dealer and have them cut you a new "diamond" key?
It only cost me $20 for a used diamond key and $5 for a battery, so my total cost was only $25. I did however, ruin one of my old keys. I have a new blank diamond key on the way which I will use to change my other older key over to. Using an uncut diamond key will mean you only have to take the transponder chip out of the square key, so if you ever need to go back to that key you can put the chip back in and still have it work.

What dealer will sell you a brand new diamond key for only $120? If you can find that price, it's a steal because most charge at least twice that. I bought a blank diamond key off ebay for about $65 shipped. Another $5 for a battery and the cost of cutting and that's not too expensive, IMHO.
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:34 PM   #8
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Did you buy the key off ebay or somewhere else?
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:10 PM   #9
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nvm..I see you did buy it from ebay
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:23 PM   #10
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nvm..I see you did buy it from ebay
I bought the used diamond key from a member on the forum who was selling his spare after he totaled his car. The new uncut diamond key I purchased from ebay, but I am still waiting for it to arrive.
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:34 PM   #11
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Keep us updated. There are tons of members that want to do this including me.
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:09 AM   #12
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can't you leave both transponders inside so that you don't lose the induction charging circuit? I assume that the car would only recognize only one
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:21 AM   #13
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Little messy towards the blade, I attempted this quite some time ago and stopped after the blade would just twist out the plastic, a metal loaded epoxy should stick it down but too much hassle and at the end of the day its just a key. LOL
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:27 AM   #14
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can't you leave both transponders inside so that you don't lose the induction charging circuit? I assume that the car would only recognize only one
Nope, you can't have both transponders inside. The ignition will recognize two signals and the car won't start, I tried this.
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luckysnafu View Post
Nope, you can't have both transponders inside. The ignition will recognize two signals and the car won't start, I tried this.
uhhh

wanna come and do this to mine?

i get really annoyed with fiddly little things..
but i want one
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:00 AM   #16
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The only thing I'm worried about on this mod is the key blade falling off.

Would using something other than just superglue work? JB Weld maybe?

Let us know how it holds up.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:11 AM   #17
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I would suggest epoxy rather than super glue.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:19 AM   #18
luckysnafu
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The only thing I'm worried about on this mod is the key blade falling off.

Would using something other than just superglue work? JB Weld maybe?

Let us know how it holds up.
Yeah, the first time I glued it on it came apart while turning the ignition. I am waiting for the uncut diamond key to arrive so I don't have to worry about gluing the blade on. That should solve all the blade problems since it is a brand new key. I have only driven my car a few times with the key but it is holding up for now. I will be using the brand new key as my master and this glued one as my spare.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:25 AM   #19
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So let me get this straight....you are going to take an uncut key to the dealer to get it cut for you car right? I've heard that they wont do this unless you can totally prove its your car etc but even then isnt it going to be hard to get them to cut a key that you didnt purchase from them?

It sounds easy but I remember a few older threads were people were having problems getting them cut.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:37 AM   #20
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