This page records the machinations that I went through to obtain a working pair of keys for a BMW X3, but in many instances will also apply to car key repair for numerous makes of modern cars. The solution I finally found after many hours of browsing the web was to use  “The Master Locksmith”. Read on to see the sequence of events.

Setting the scene

My daughter recently left the UK to work in Singapore leaving her BMW behind for me to sell. Her instructions indicated that I should contact a main dealer and get a new key as one remote worked intermittantly and the other failed to work at all.  The car was seven years old and the keys had recharchable batteries that were charged whilst in the ignition, I  decided that the batteries were failing as the partial working key only unlocked the doors after multiple presses when held in close proximity to the vehicle.  My first reaction was “that is easy enough”; and decided it would be better to replace the battery in the first key  and get a get new one .

The first problem I encounted was it was a sealed key, there was no way to replace the battery – OK I need 2 keys now.

The second:  Checks with main dealers and the web about how to obtain new keys  and found a number of  differing results but of a broadly similiar results. All required the vehicle to be taken in together with log-book and in one case by the registered owner (owner now in Singapore). The vehicle would be checked out for serial numbers and new keys ordered from BMW in Germany as they cannot be repaired. This would probably take up to three weeks then the new keys would be programmed for this particular car and I would be good to go.

Price variations £140,£160,£180  OUCH!! or other words that should not be used  in a blog.
I was looking at £320 for the pair.

Reasons given the keys, contain a microchip, have to be cut and then programmed for the car.


No set price was defined by BMW for key replacement  as opposed to standard servicing, pad replacement etc.. They are free to charge what they like. This broke down to say £100 for the key and £60 for the programming.
I then found online videos that explained that you could cut the keys open, replace faulty components and replace the battery.

Nothing ventured nothing gained – so a key was cut open with a Stanley knife :-
The first is the key for the BMW and the second is a view of both sides of the circuit board.

The circuit board can be said to have 4 main components.
Battery on the reverse, 3 micro switches, large chip which controls the remote and coil/small chip which is the EWS system control which prevents the vehicle from starting if the wrong key is installed.

Basically it looked similiar to my wireless mouse that cost £5.

After further searching of the internet I found the switches and battery (CR3020) could be purchased for approx £9, blank key cases with a blade were about £4.
Therfore for the components £13 you could get the components and cutting the key would be about a extra £10. I also noted grave warnings about not doing this yourself as you could damage the circuit board itself. I decided my skills were not up to it being a 75 yr. old, my soldering capabilities being heat an iron in a fire then join two wires  and not that of miniature circuit board soldering.


Having decided that  soldering was beyond my skill, I continued searching on Ebay and found a number of ebayers that offered a remote repair sevice and selttled on The Master Locksmith :-

The cost £20 + 2.50 postage the same as the components; the non working key was sent off and returned 4 days later. Included were instructions for programming the key.

Programming the key:-

1 enter car, close all doors and windows.2 press central locking twice to lock all doors, unlock all doors.
3 turn key in ignition to position 2 (dont start engine) remove key.
4 On the key press and hold down open button; then press lock (bmw button) Three times
the doors lock then unlock to show programming done.
5 If a second key has to be redone repeat 4 above.

6 insert in ignition turn on to finalize.

WOW! 10secs elapsed time to program, a saving 0f £60 (a rate of approx £3600 per hour!)

All this worked first time and I was most impressed. The second key was sent off and again received back within 4 days.

This time they were programmed together by doing step 5 above as well, and I had 2 working keys.

The Lesson Learnt

Do not believe what the main dealers tell you, they are motivated by pure greed; I am at a loss to call it anything else. For £40 instead of £320 I had 2 working keys.
(rip-off UK at its most obvious!!)

Having inserted the link to the master locksmith shop, I visited the site and noticed he offers this service for a multitude of vehicles (Renault Ford Citroen etc.).
I obviously cannot comment but if equal to my experience with a BMW key then an excellent service will be provided.

Update Oct 19

Renault Laguna key for friend, sent off returned working; 4 days total elapsed time.

I hope this experience will be  of value to others.

Update Oct 25

BMW Complaint. Allow a few seconds for the sound to kick in.
Having gone round this loop, I just had to add this video from facebook for a little light relief.