BMW Remote Key Not Detected: Solutions and Tips

As a BMW owner, you rely on your remote key to unlock your car, start the engine, and more. So when your key stops working, it can be frustrating and even leave you stranded. One of the most common issues owners face is an error message indicating the BMW remote key is not detected. This problem can be caused by various factors, and it is essential to understand them to effectively tackle the issue and ensure a smooth driving experience.

A low key battery is one of the common reasons for a BMW not detecting the remote key. Your key fob’s battery might be dead or too low, making it unable to provide a powerful signal to the keyless entry system. Consequently, your automobile is unable to detect the key. In addition to battery-related issues, other factors might be responsible for a BMW remote key not detected problem, such as a damaged Body Domain Control Unit or outdated software.

By identifying the possible causes of BMW remote key detection issues, you can take appropriate measures to address them and regain full functionality of your key fob. It is crucial to maintain your BMW’s keyless entry system to avoid any inconvenience and ensure a hassle-free ownership experience.

Understanding the BMW Remote Key System

The BMW remote key system is an essential feature in maintaining convenience and security for BMW owners. This system consists of several components that work together to provide a seamless and user-friendly experience. In this section, we will explore three sub-systems that make up the BMW remote key system: Comfort Access, Keyless Operation System, and Keyless Entry.

Comfort Access

Comfort Access is a feature available on most BMW models that allows for keyless entry and engine start. With this system, the driver can simply keep the remote key in their pocket or purse, and the vehicle will unlock automatically when they approach. Additionally, the engine can be started by simply pressing the start button while depressing the brake pedal, without the need to insert a physical key.

Keyless Operation System

The Keyless Operation System (KOS) is a crucial aspect of the BMW remote key system that facilitates easy vehicle access and operation. KOS-enabled BMWs come with a remote key fob that serves multiple functions, such as locking and unlocking doors, opening the trunk, and even activating the alarm system. The KOS also provides additional security by allowing the owner to program personalized access codes for other drivers, ensuring that the vehicle can only be operated by those authorized to do so.

Keyless Entry

Keyless Entry is a feature that enables BMW owners to unlock their vehicle doors without needing to physically use their remote key fob. This can be achieved by simply placing a hand on the door handle, as long as the fob is within close proximity of the vehicle. This convenient system ensures that drivers always have access to their BMW, even in situations where their hands might be full or they cannot easily locate their remote key fob.

Causes of ‘Not Detected’ Error

The ‘Not Detected’ error in BMW remote keys might result from several factors that can influence the functionality of the car fobs. In this section, we will explore the common causes of this issue, which include a dead battery, interference, broken key, and the use of the wrong key.

Dead Battery

One common reason for the ‘Not Detected’ error is a low key battery. Your key fob’s battery might be either dead or too low to provide a powerful signal to the keyless entry system. As a result, your car may not be able to detect the key. In some cases, a weak car battery could also cause this issue.


Interference is another factor that might cause the ‘Not Detected’ error in BMW remote keys. Various electronic devices or metallic objects around the car can interfere with the signal between the key fob and the car’s systems. It’s essential to keep your key away from objects that can cause interference to avoid facing this problem.

Broken Key

In some cases, a broken key might be the source of the ‘Not Detected’ error. The internal components of the key fob might be damaged or malfunctioning, preventing the car from identifying the key signal. In such cases, it may be necessary to repair or replace the key fob to resolve the issue.

Wrong Key

Finally, the use of the wrong key can also cause the ‘Not Detected’ error in BMW remote keys. If you’re using a key that is not programmed for your specific vehicle, it might not be recognized by the car, leading to this error. Ensure that you’re using the correct key for your BMW to avoid this issue.

Troubleshooting and Solutions

When facing a situation where your BMW remote key is not detected, there are a few potential solutions to try. In this section, we’ll discuss Replacing Key Fob Battery, Reprogramming the Remote Key, and Using the Backup Physical Key.

Replacing Key Fob Battery

One of the most common causes of a BMW remote key not being detected is a weak battery in the key fob. To resolve this issue, you can replace the battery in your key fob. Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Open the key fob using a small flathead screwdriver.
  2. Carefully remove the old battery.
  3. Insert the new battery, making sure it’s oriented correctly.
  4. Reassemble the key fob.

Once you’ve replaced the battery, try using the key fob again to see if it’s now detected by your BMW.

Reprogramming the Remote Key

If your BMW still doesn’t detect the remote key after replacing the battery, there may be an issue with the key fob’s programming. In this case, you might need to reprogram the remote key. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the key into the ignition.
  2. Turn the key to the “ON” position (but don’t start the engine).
  3. Press and hold the “Unlock” button on the key fob.
  4. While holding the “Unlock” button, press the “Lock” button three times.
  5. Release the “Unlock” button.

This process should reprogram your key fob, making it detectable by your BMW again.

Using the Backup Physical Key

If neither of the above solutions works, you can try using the backup physical key that should’ve come with your BMW. The physical key can be used to manually unlock the doors, and it can help you start the engine as well. To use the physical key:

  1. Remove the physical key from your key fob by pressing the small button on the fob and pulling the key out.
  2. Insert the physical key into the door lock and turn it to unlock the door.
  3. Once inside, insert the key fob into the ignition slot, and start the engine as you normally would with the remote key.

By following the above methods, you should be able to fix the issue of your BMW remote key not being detected. Make sure always to keep the physical key accessible in case of such issues.

Starting the Engine with a Non-Detected Key

When your BMW remote key is not detected, it can be quite frustrating. However, there are a few methods you can try to start the engine even with a non-detected key. In this section, we will discuss two such methods: the push-start button sequence and onboard computer assistance.

Push-Start Button Sequence

One possible way to start your engine without a detected key is by using the push-start button sequence. To perform this method, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your BMW is in Park or Neutral gear (for automatic transmissions) or the clutch is fully depressed (for manual transmissions).
  2. Press and hold the brake pedal.
  3. Make sure the push-start button flashes a red light, indicating it’s ready for use.
  4. Press the push-start button three times rapidly, within one second.

If done correctly, the engine should start even if the key is not detected. Please note that this method may not work for all BMW models, as it depends on the type of keyless entry system your vehicle is equipped with.

Onboard Computer Assistance

Another method to try if your remote key is not detected involves using your BMW’s onboard computer system. This system can assist you in starting your engine while providing additional security features. Here’s how you can use the onboard computer to start your engine:

  1. With your foot on the brake pedal, press the push-start button to activate the onboard computer.
  2. The computer will display a message on the screen, indicating that the key is not detected.
  3. Using your BMW’s iDrive controller or touchscreen, navigate to the vehicle settings menu.
  4. Select the “Start Engine” option, which can be found under “Security” or “Remote Control” settings.
  5. Confirm your selection, and the engine should start without the key present.

Remember that these alternative methods to start your engine without a detected key should only be used in case of emergencies. It is recommended to address the issue of a non-detected key as soon as possible, which may involve replacing the key fob battery or seeking assistance from a BMW service center.

Dealer and Service Center Assistance

Software Updates

When your BMW remote key is not detected, there might be a need for a software update for related vehicle systems. Visiting an authorized BMW dealer or service center will ensure your car’s software is up to date and functioning properly. These updates can correct communication problems between your key and car, ensuring smooth operation of the keyless entry system.

Addressing Fault Codes

At times, your BMW’s Body Domain Control Unit (BDC) may cause a “key not detected” error due to an issue with the unit or the presence of fault codes. A visit to a BMW dealer or service center can reveal the presence of these fault codes. A technician will use specialized equipment to read and clear the error codes, helping to resolve the issue and restore normal operation of your remote key.

Authorized Dealer Support

Lastly, authorized dealer support is critical for resolving any issues related to your BMW remote key not being detected. Dealers and service centers are equipped with the necessary tools, technology, and expertise to diagnose and repair any problems with your key or vehicle systems. Using an authorized dealer to address these issues will ensure proper resolution and help maintain the integrity of your vehicle and key’s communication system. When necessary, authorized dealers can even program new keys or replace faulty components to restore full functionality of your remote key.

Frequently Asked Questions and Technical Service Bulletins

FAQs Related to BMW Remote Keys

1. Why does my BMW remote key fob not get detected?

A common reason for a BMW not detecting the remote key is a low key battery. A dead or weak battery in the key fob reduces the signal strength to the keyless entry system, making it unable to detect the key.

2. How do I know if my key fob battery is low?

Some BMW models will display a warning message on the dashboard that the key battery is running low. Reduced range or effectiveness of remote functions such as locking and unlocking is another sign of a weak battery.

3. Can a damaged Body Domain Control Unit (BDC) cause remote key detection problems?

Yes, a damaged or outdated BDC may trigger the “no key detected” error. The BDC is the central control unit for most electrical components in a BMW.

TSBs on Remote Key Issues

Key detection problems may also be related to a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) issued by BMW. TSBs provide important vehicle repair information to technicians. One example of a BMW remote key-related TSB addresses damage to the BMW Digital Key card (Part Number 61 35 8 779 896). Damage to this key card may occur when charging a smartphone in the wireless charging tray if the phone is placed on top of the card.

In summary, frequently asked questions about BMW remote key issues may be answered by understanding the roles of key fob batteries, the Body Domain Control Unit, and available TSBs. Addressing these elements can provide solutions for BMW owners experiencing remote key detection problems.

Professional Tools and Expertise

OBD-II Diagnostic Scanner

An OBD-II diagnostic scanner is a valuable tool used by automotive professionals to access and decode diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) generated by a vehicle’s on-board computer. These codes help identify issues related to emissions, drivability, and overall performance. Modern BMW vehicles come equipped with advanced on-board diagnostic systems that require a dedicated or universal OBD-II scanner to diagnose issues with the remote key or other systems. An OBD-II scanner allows technicians to identify the specific issue and address it accordingly, providing accurate and efficient solutions.

Youcanic Full System Scanner

The Youcanic Full System Scanner is a comprehensive diagnostic tool designed for BMW vehicles. Developed by Rushit Hila, an ASE-certified engineer, this scanner is capable of diagnosing a wide range of system issues, including remote key-related problems. This tool provides invaluable information and step-by-step guidance for both professional technicians and DIY enthusiasts, making it a go-to choice when addressing BMW remote key undetected issues. It displays not only the DTCs but also additional information on how to resolve the issue in question, making the diagnostic process more efficient and accurate.

Automotive Maintenance and Practical Work

A comprehensive understanding of automotive maintenance and practical work experience is essential when dealing with BMW remote key not detected issues. A well-rounded professional has the skills and knowledge to effectively diagnose and resolve problems with remote keys, ensuring that your vehicle remains fully functional and secure. Trained technicians possess in-depth knowledge of BMW’s systems, components, and functionalities, allowing them to address remote key issues with a high level of expertise.

Practical work experience provides technicians with the ability to diagnose and resolve a broad range of key-related problems. Additionally, they are well-versed in the use of professional tools such as the OBD-II diagnostic scanner and Youcanic Full System Scanner, allowing them to provide accurate solutions and a superior level of service. Utilizing these tools and professional expertise ensures that any issues with your BMW remote key are detected and resolved quickly and effectively, getting you back on the road as soon as possible.


As a BMW owner or a mechanic, understanding the causes and solutions for the “BMW remote key not detected” issue can save you a lot of frustration and time. One common reason for the key not being detected is the low key battery, which can be easily replaced.

Vehicle owners should also be aware of other potential causes, such as interference from other electronic devices, damaged key fobs, and issues with the car’s keyless entry system. Regular maintenance and checks of your remote key fob and its components can help prevent these problems from occurring.

Mechanics, on the other hand, can provide valuable content and assistance to BMW owners who face this issue. By staying up-to-date on the latest solutions and technologies, they can ensure efficient service and customer satisfaction.

In conclusion, addressing the “BMW remote key not detected” problem requires a combination of knowledge, preventive measures, and timely assistance from mechanics. By keeping these factors in mind, both vehicle owners and mechanics can successfully tackle this common issue and maintain a smooth driving experience.

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.

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