BMW Key Fob Not Working: Quick Solutions and Tips

BMW owners sometimes face an unexpected issue when their key fob stops working, leaving them unable to access or start their vehicle. This can be frustrating and inconvenient, but understanding the common reasons behind key fob malfunctions, as well as the steps required to troubleshoot and resolve these issues, can help you quickly regain control of your BMW. From battery problems to system glitches, this article will delve into the various aspects of BMW key fob problems and their potential solutions.

It is essential for BMW drivers to be familiar with the features they can access through their key fobs, such as Comfort Access and reprogramming options. Furthermore, knowing how to start the BMW manually when the key fob fails and when to replace the key fob altogether can save significant time and distress. In the following sections, we will discuss these topics in more detail, empowering you with the necessary knowledge to handle any BMW key fob issues confidently.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand common issues and solutions related to BMW key fobs
  • Familiarize yourself with the features and manual options associated with BMW key fobs
  • Determine when it is necessary to replace or reprogram your BMW key fob

Common BMW Key Fob Issues

Dead Key Fob Battery

One of the most common issues with BMW key fobs is a dead or weak battery. The key fob battery powers the remote key to transmit a signal to the car’s keyless entry system. When the battery is weak or dead, the key fob cannot communicate with the car effectively. It’s important to replace the battery regularly to ensure proper function of the key fob.

Signal Interference

Signal interference can affect the communication between the BMW key fob and the vehicle. Common sources of interference include metal objects, electronic devices, and radio signals. Moving away from potential sources of interference can help improve the key fob’s functionality.

Water Damage

Water damage can cause a BMW key fob to stop working properly. If the key fob gets wet, it’s crucial to remove the battery immediately and dry it thoroughly to avoid damage to the internal components. Proper care and handling of the key fob can help prevent water damage.

Worn Buttons

Over time, the buttons on a BMW key fob can become worn and less responsive. This can cause difficulty in locking, unlocking, and starting the vehicle. If the buttons on your key fob are worn or unresponsive, it may be necessary to replace the entire key fob.

Poor Battery Contact

The connector terminals inside the BMW key fob may become dirty or corroded, leading to poor battery contact. This can cause the key fob to stop working or function inconsistently. Cleaning the connector terminals with a soft cloth or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can help improve battery contact and restore function.

Defective Key Fob

In some cases, the key fob itself may be defective. This can result from manufacturing defects or damage over time. If you’ve tried troubleshooting other key fob issues without success, it may be necessary to replace the key fob with a new one.

Immobilizer System

Some BMW key fobs may fail to work properly due to an issue with the vehicle’s immobilizer system. The immobilizer system is designed to prevent the engine from starting without the proper key. If the system is malfunctioning, it may fail to recognize the key fob, preventing the car from starting. In this case, it’s essential to consult a qualified BMW technician to diagnose and resolve the issue.

Troubleshooting and Solutions

Replace the Battery

One of the first steps in troubleshooting a BMW key fob not working is to check the battery. A weak or dead battery can prevent the key fob from functioning properly. To replace the battery, remove the key fob’s cover, carefully remove the old battery, and replace it with a new one. Make sure to use the appropriate battery type as specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Identify Signal Interference

Signal interference can cause the key fob to malfunction. Devices like smartphones, laptops, and other electronics can create electromagnetic interference, affecting your key fob’s ability to unlock the car. To eliminate signal interference, move away from other electronic devices and try using the key fob again.

Handle Water-Damaged Key Fobs

If your key fob gets wet, it is essential to act quickly to avoid any permanent damage. Remove the battery immediately and rinse the key fob with clean tap water if it came into contact with salt water. Dry the key fob thoroughly using a soft cloth or placing it in a bag of uncooked rice for a few hours to absorb moisture.

Repair Worn Buttons

Worn buttons on the key fob may affect its proper functioning. Inspect the buttons for signs of wear and tear. If the buttons are severely damaged, consider replacing the entire key fob housing or seeking professional assistance for repairs.

Ensure Proper Battery Connection

Poor battery contact can result in a non-functional key fob. Check the battery connection by opening the key fob and inspecting the connector terminals. If they appear corroded or misaligned, clean the terminals with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol, or gently bend the contacts back into the correct positions.

Recognize and Address a Defective Fob

In rare instances, a defective key fob could be the issue. If none of the previously mentioned troubleshooting steps resolve the problem, consult a BMW dealership or specialist for further assistance. They can diagnose the problem and determine if a new key fob is necessary.

BMW Comfort Access


BMW Comfort Access is a convenient feature that allows drivers to unlock and lock their vehicle without physically pressing buttons on the key fob, and to start the car by pressing the Stop/Start button. This system enhances the user experience by offering a more seamless, hands-free interaction with the vehicle, using BMW key fob functionalities.

Comfort Access Antenna

The Comfort Access system relies on a network of antennas installed throughout the vehicle. These antennas detect the presence of the key fob within a certain range and communicate this information to the vehicle’s control module. The comfort access antenna is a crucial part of the system that ensures smooth interaction between the key fob and the vehicle.

Activation and Deactivation

BMW Comfort Access can be activated or deactivated as per the driver’s preferences. Bimmertech allows the customization of this feature along with various other settings to personalize the vehicle experience. To activate or deactivate the Comfort Access, the driver may have to access the vehicle settings through the infotainment system or consult the vehicle manual for specific instructions.


If the BMW key fob is not working properly, there are a few steps that can be taken for troubleshooting. It’s essential to check the key fob’s battery, buttons, and connector terminals. If the fob gets wet, it is crucial to remove the battery immediately and dry it properly. It’s also recommended to move away from potential signal interferences and verify that the comfort access antenna is functioning correctly.

Driver Profiles

BMW vehicles equipped with Comfort Access can also incorporate driver profiles. These profiles can store personalized settings for various vehicle features, creating a tailored driving experience for each driver. By assigning a specific driver profile to a key fob, the vehicle can detect the driver’s presence and automatically adjust settings such as seat position, climate control, and infotainment preferences as the driver approaches or enters the vehicle. This feature further enhances the overall driving experience and convenience associated with BMW Comfort Access.

Reprogramming and Pairing Key Fobs

Steps for Reprogramming or Pairing

Reprogramming or pairing a BMW key fob is a straightforward process. To begin, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the key fob into the ignition and firmly press it in.
  2. Move the key to position “1” and back within a rapid succession, repeating the motion five times.
  3. If done correctly, the central locking system should lock and unlock momentarily, indicating the vehicle is ready for programming.
  4. Remove the key from the ignition and press the “start/stop” button immediately.
  5. Next, press the “unlock” button on the key fob, followed by the “lock” button, and finally the “unlock” button once again.
  6. The central locking system will lock and unlock again, confirming the successful programming of the key fob.

Remember, it’s essential to complete these steps quickly to achieve successful programming.

Unpaired Key Requiring Reprogramming

In some cases, a previously paired key fob may require reprogramming. This could happen if the key’s inbuilt settings are lost or if the vehicle’s VIN is altered. To reprogram an unpaired key fob, follow the same steps mentioned above.

It’s worth noting that for vehicles with a manual steering column lock, the key fob needs to be inserted with the lock cylinder on the column in the “lock” position to begin reprogramming. Similarly, for vehicles with a “comfort access” feature, the key fob should be held against the steering column before starting the reprogramming process.

Reprogramming the key fob is crucial to ensure smooth access and ignition for your BMW. By following these steps, BMW owners can save time, money, and enjoy the convenience provided by the key fob system.

Starting the BMW Manually

Using the Key Blade

When a BMW key fob is not working, drivers can still gain entry to their vehicle by utilizing the key blade stored inside the fob. To access the key blade, locate the small release button or lever on the back or side of the key fob and gently press it or move the lever, allowing the emergency key to slide out from the key fob. Once the key blade is free, find the keyhole in your door handle and insert the key blade. This action should unlock the car door, enabling entry.

Internal Key Blade

For some BMW models, an internal key blade is available inside the car that can be utilized for manually starting the engine. Upon gaining access to the vehicle using the aforementioned method, locate the ignition slot (if equipped) in the dashboard. Insert the key blade into the ignition slot and turn it to start the engine as you would with a conventional key.

Push Button Start/Stop

In BMW models with a push button start/stop feature, the method for manually starting the engine is slightly different. With the key fob close to the ignition or start button, press the brake pedal (for automatic transmission) or clutch pedal (for manual transmission) and hold it down. Then, press the start/stop button to initiate the engine. This action should start the vehicle even when the key fob is not functioning.

Following these steps will help BMW drivers overcome a dead key fob and start their engines manually to get on their way.

BMW Key Fob Replacement

Shopping for a Replacement

When your BMW key fob is not working, the first step is to shop for a suitable replacement. There are various places you can buy a high-quality replacement key fob, such as trusted online retailers or authorized BMW dealerships. It is essential to compare prices while considering factors such as key fob’s compatibility, built quality, and security features.

Getting a Spare Key

It is always a good idea to have a spare key for your BMW. Many locksmiths can create aftermarket keys for you at a fraction of the cost that dealerships charge. Make sure to provide the locksmith with your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) so they can properly reproduce a compatible spare key. Don’t forget to have your spare key properly programmed to ensure it works correctly with your vehicle.

Acquiring a New Key from a Dealership

When all other options are exhausted, acquiring a new key from a BMW dealership is the most reliable way to replace your key fob. Dealerships have access to official BMW key fobs and the necessary equipment to program them correctly. However, dealership services can be more expensive than other options, so it is essential to weigh the benefits and costs. Remember to bring proof of ownership, such as your vehicle’s registration and a photo ID, when you visit the dealership to request a new key fob.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *