BMW display keys are unique little pieces of technology that not only allow you to unlock and start your car, but they have an LCD screen that allows you to observe and change the various features of your car like climate control. However, with this new piece of technology comes the need for increased security. So, can you reprogram them?
BMW display keys can not be reprogrammed. This is due to security reasons. Your BMW only allows activating key fobs with one predefined list of identifying keys, and this validated OEM display keys list is unique to every single BMW. In order to reprogram these keys, you would have to modify your BMW’s anti-theft system leaving it vulnerable.
We will cover in this article what a BMW display key is, which models have them, why you would want to program these keys in the first place, and then if you actually can program them. We’ll conclude by covering why these keys cant be programmed and how much they cost.
What is a BMW display key?
Gone are the days where you would use a traditional key to unlock your car’s doors and start the engine by inserting the key into the ignition. Nowadays, you typically have what is known as a key fob. This is an electronic lock that gives you access to your car, which is activated by the touch of a button.
In recent years BMW has stepped this up a notch by introducing a key fob that has a display on it, and it’s pretty incredible.
It is a state-of-the-art remote control with an LCD touch screen that has a range of approximately 985 feet. You have the traditional unlock and lock buttons along with the button to unlock the trunk. Additionally, you have a button that, if you press, will sound the horn of your BMW three times. This is great if you forget where you parked your car in a parking lot and are trying to find it.
An on/off button is located on the left side of a key that will activate the LCD screen. Once turned on, you will slide up on the screen to unlock. Once unlocked, the status screen will display your vehicle’s central locking information and will also indicate whether the windows are opened or closed.
Selecting the lock icon will give you the status of your car’s doors, trunk, and alarm system. If the alarm system is armed, it will additionally show the interior and tilt sensor.
Sliding your finger across the touchscreen will navigate the remote accessing different menus that will indicate your BMW’s status for various features. These include showing you the status of your lights if your car is overdue for service, the range of your vehicle, and a timer that can be set for your next departure.
The functionality of the BMW display key includes central locking, preconditioning, time, fuel status and estimated range, and service requirements.
Which BMWs have a display key?
The display key for BMW was primarily introduced with the G11 7 series. However, you can now find various OEM versions that will work with most current G series models. Take note that these keys’ availability will depend significantly on your region.
One cool thing to be aware of, though, is that BMW display keys are available in aftermarket versions for almost all F and G series BMWs.
Why would you want to program an electronic car key?
There are two reasons why you would want to program an electronic car key. The one reason is that you already have a working key but want to program additional keys (spare keys). The other is when you do not have any keys, and you need to program a key from scratch.
Typically, BMW key fobs are easy to program and there are two programming methods. They only require a couple of steps with no need to call in a professional or take your car to the dealer.
Although detailing how to program your BMW key fob is beyond the scope of this article, you can read the step-by-step tutorial for both methods here. Moreover, if you would like a visual aid on the procedure, then you can view this video here. Keep in mind that this process works for all BMW models and BMW key fobs.
Can you reprogram a BMW display key?
The only way you can program (not even reprogram) a BMW display key is if you purchase an aftermarket key and install it yourself. Technically, you are not actually programming the key, but rather using your key fob and connecting it to an electronic device that reads information from it, which the aftermarket system will access, and you will use your display key to essentially access that aftermarket system as well.
This will allow you to unlock, lock, start, and turn off your vehicle. Additionally, it will provide all the other various functions that the OEM display key provides.
If you do not install this system yourself, then you will have to get a technician with the correct tools to help you install and “program” the display key to your aftermarket system and BMW key fob. Otherwise, if you are looking to get a spare key or have lost your key, you will need to contact the dealer to purchase another one or get a locksmith and technician to open and unlock your BMW.
Take a look at this video where they go through an installation of a BMW display key with an aftermarket system.
Is activating a BMW display key difficult?
Your aftermarket BMW display key will not require any coding, and as we said, you will be utilizing your key fob for the aftermarket system. However, you still need to activate your display key, but luckily this is very straightforward to do. To activate your new display key, all you have to do is;
- Hold your new key flat against the low key battery indicator located next to the steering column
- Hold the start/stop button until you see the “no key” warning light disappear
- Press the start/stop button again to confirm the activation
Why can’t I reprogram a BMW display key?
You are not able to program (reprogram) BMW display keys for security reasons. BMW will only allow activating key fobs with one of a predefined list of identifying keys. The validated OEM display key’s list is unique to every BMW, so this prevents would-be criminals and thieves from pairing other key fobs with your vehicle.
If you had to reprogram a used display key or even your BMW, it would require replacing and modifying various parts of your BMW’s anti-theft system. This would decrease the security of your vehicle and make it more open to potential car thiefs.
How much is a BMW display key?
You can find BMW display keys on the internet for as low as $250, but these are often used and are of lower quality. If you are looking for a top-quality OEM display key, you will be looking at paying well over $250.
We have come a long way in terms of technology, and this goes for cars especially. You now even have remote-controlled keys with LCD touch screens that provide you with unique functions and features.
However, they do have caveats, namely that the BMW display keys only come with specific G series models and aftermarket version for the F and G series.
Furthermore, you can’t program the display keys like you can with an ordinary key fob, and if you don’t know your way around a BMW’s electrical system, it would be best to have a professional install it.