BMW Key Fob hidden functions & tricks

Bianka Rommel
Sep 15, 2020

Have you ever accidentally opened your car windows? Or maybe started your engine when sitting down on your key in the pocket? Well, you’re not the only one who got to know your BMW key fob’s extra features in an unconventional way. As it turns out, many of them hide secrets :) 

But even though we all like to be pleasantly surprised by BMW’s nifty functions from time to time, it’s best not to be frustrated by them. So, to help you avoid unwanted triggers, we’ve prepared you a few examples of BMW key fob hidden tricks you may not have been aware of.

BMW Remote Key fob functions

BMW Remote Key fob functions

So inconspicuous, yet pretty packed with handy functions ;) A standard remote BMW key fob can not only lock and unlock your doors or open the trunk, but in some cases control your windows, start the engine, disable your BMW sensors and more. Check out what hidden key fob tricks you can expect.

Opening and closing the windows

BMW Key Fob function available in E/F/G-Series models.

If you want to avoid melting inside your oven-hot car during summer time, it’s best to ventilate it before you even get in. But how can you do it without even entering your BMW? Simply, with one of your hidden key fob tricks.

Just press and hold the unlock button for a few seconds to make your windows open. The moment you release the button, the windows will stop. Have a sunroof you’d like to open as well? Hold the unlock button for a little longer for it to open fully. 

opening and closing the windows for BMW

Now, if you want your windows to go back up again, you have to press the lock button on your key fob once and hold it for a few seconds until they close entirely. Unfortunately, you have to curb your enthusiasm — the window closing feature is largely dependent on your region. In European countries it's usually enabled, so you can freely enjoy it. 

But if you have a car made for the North American market, you most likely won’t have that option added to your key fob due to your regional regulations. To get it working, you’ll have to code your vehicle. One way you can do it is with BimmerTech’s remote cable coding. Purchase Remote Window Control option, have a bit of quick and painless coding with a BimmerTech technician, and enjoy airing out your car before you even get in.  

Mirror folding

BMW Key Fob function available in F/G-Series models. 

If you’re parking in tight spaces a lot, or generally like to have your mirrors hidden just to prevent unwanted damage, mirror folding with your key fob can turn out to be very convenient. But here’s a trick. Only the newest vehicles with electrically folding mirrors are able to do it without any prior vehicle coding — older ones will require iDrive programming. 

Mirror folding for bmw

Let’s take a 2018 BMW X3, or any other G-Series car from the US, as an example. What you want to do to get to the mirror folding settings is:

1) Go to your iDrive menu.

2) Choose ‘My vehicle’.

3) Enter ‘Vehicle settings’.

4) Select ‘Doors and key’.

5) Choose ‘Fold mirrors in when locked’.

6) And ‘Unlock at the end of a trip’.

After doing so, every time you lock your BMW your mirrors will automatically close, and when you unlock it they will fold out.

Don’t have the mirror folding option available in your BMW? Add it with BimmerTech’s remote cable coding. All you’ve got to do is purchase the Remote Power Folding feature, schedule a remote coding session with our technician and have your car coded in a matter of minutes. From now on your mirrors will fold and unfold automatically, without you even having to activate this option in your iDrive settings. 

Running the engine without the key

BMW Key Fob function available in E-Series models.

This one may definitely come in handy during freezing winters or hot summers. Many of you may not know, but you can actually run your E-Series car engine without having to leave your keys in the ignition and having your car awake while being somewhere else.

All you need to do is put your keys in the ignition once and push the start/stop button. Then stop the car's engine, take the key out and push the start/stop button again. Your engine will turn on without the key, simply because the CAS control module is still awake and has read the signal from your key. Now you can turn on the climate control, get out of your car, lock it and leave it to cool down or heat up while you’re inside your house. 

 Running the engine without the key for BMW

If you have an E-Series BMW with comfort access, or any F/G-Series car, BMW keyless start might also be very useful when you need to start your car quickly and drive away. Just make sure your key is with you, enter your BMW and the road is yours. 

Not sure what Comfort Access is? Find out all about it and how to retrofit it to your BMW.

Remote start

BMW Key Fob function available in certain G-Series models.

Running the engine without the key is cool. But starting it without even entering your vehicle is way more convenient. To be able to do it with your key fob, though, your BMW has to be equipped with the ‘remote engine start’ option: S1CRA. Decode your VIN here and we’ll send you a PDF file with a complete vehicle specification, including the availability of the S1CRA option. 

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Did you know that BMW key fobs have the remote start feature completely hidden? 

For instance, in the 2019 BMW X5 you’d have to quickly press the key fob’s lock button three times, then hold it for your engine to launch. Beforehand, you’d also have to make sure you have the ‘remote engine start’ function enabled in your iDrive settings. To do that you have to:

1) Go to your iDrive menu.

2) Choose ‘Car’.

3) Enter ‘Settings’.

4) Select ‘Climate controls’.

5) Choose ‘Preconditioning/ventilation’.

6) Go to ‘Remote engine start’.

7) Select ‘Start engine for climate control’.

Disabling motion detector

BMW Key Fob function available in F/E/G-Series models.

Another handy BMW key fob function that might be useful when you want to leave your car just for a quick sec, but have a passenger or a pet stay inside, is a feature disabling the motion detector. Normally, when your sensors are enabled and you lock someone inside your BMW, it only takes a few movements of a hand to trigger the alarm. 

So, to avoid the unnecessary alert, you can press twice on your key’s lock button — one press to close your BMW and the other to turn off the tilt system. This way you’ll disable the motion detector until you come back to your car to open it again. Once you do it, everything gets re-enabled and you get back to normal operation.

High temperatures outside? Don’t bother with disabling the motion detector — just take your children and animals with you. 

BMW key blade

BMW Key Fob function available in F/G/E-Series models.

When the electronics fail, you have to search for good old methods to quickly get yourself out of a sticky situation. Especially when your key fob runs out of battery or malfunctions and you don’t have a spare one with you ;) In that case, there is nothing as reliable as a basic mechanical key, which you happen to have inside your BMW key fob. 

To find it, squeeze your fob on the tab on one end and pull your key out. Once you do that, you have to find the key slot on the door handle of your BMW. Some of them are easily visible, but in other cases you’ll have to look behind the door handle or open the plastic cap which hides the slot inside. 

BMW key blade

Got your key fob damaged? See how to replace it.

The mechanical backup key may at times be your only chance to drive away without a problem, instead of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere without access to your car, so it’s always good to know you have an alternative. 

If it happens that you have to open your car using the mechanical key, but you can't start it with one, in F-Series BMWs it might be enough to put your fob against the steering column and hit the start button. The car should fire up even with a dead keyfob battery. It’s always good, though, to make sure you can do it. Before you get into a situation where you'll need to use the keyblade to open your BMW, it's worth checking if the barrel lock is still actually operational. It might have never seen any use since leaving the factory and the mechanism may be frozen up — it doesn't hurt to use it once in a while for good measure and peace of mind.

BMW Spare key blade

Feature available in E-Series models.

As you all know, every BMW comes with a few additional key fobs you can use in the event of losing your primary key fob. Cleverly enough, in E-Series BMWs there’s also an emergency key, which can be your last resort when you have nothing left. The so-called spare blade (or the valet key) is made to open the door on the driver's side, and when tucked inside a spare holder it mimics a real key fob and can turn on the ignition. 

The spare holder is hidden in the glove box, but without the blade it’s fortunately useless, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it inside your car. What you don’t want to do, though, is keep your spare blade right there with the holder. It may give potential thieves easy access to start your vehicle, so it’s best to have it somewhere safe in your wallet.

If you need a replacement spare key, Bimmernav offers a Valet Key for E-series BMWs. For security reasons, to buy it you will need to confirm ownership of your car by emailing us a copy of your registration and driver’s licence with the same name, complete with your order number. All documents sent must be valid — those that have expired will not be accepted. 

BMW Valet Parking mode

Feature available in E/F/G-Series models.

Let’s suppose you’re at a car repair shop, or an event where your BMW has to be parked by an attendant who’s a complete stranger. What’s more, you need to leave your bags and valuable belongings inside your trunk, which means he/she can potentially have full access to everything that's stored in your vehicle. Obviously, not everyone in the world is a thief... BUT ;)  Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

If you want to limit access to your car, BMW offers a useful functionality to lock your trunk separately from the doors. How to do that? 

  1. First, leave your luggage inside the trunk.
  2. Locate the tailgate lock — in some BMWs it might be located in the glove box, whereas in others, on the center armrest.

    BMW Valet Parking mode

  3. Slide the switch to the left to secure the trunk and disconnect it from the central locking system. At this point, you won’t be able to open your trunk with the key fob, trunk button in the cabin or the handle on the trunk.
  4. Then, take out the mechanical key from your key fob.
  5. Use the key blade to close the glove box. Your trunk will not open before you unlock it again.
  6. Lastly, hand the fob to the attendant and keep the key blade with you.

Now you can be sure your trunk’s contents are secure. Take a look at how easy it is to do.

Key fob driver profiles

BMW Key Fob function available in F/E/G-Series models. 

Have you ever had to change your seat position, mirrors, lights, air conditioning, door locks or other car settings after lending your car to your friend? Or maybe you have to do that everyday, as you share your BMW with your spouse? Anybody who has ever been in one of those situations knows how time consuming everyday car adjustments can be. 

Fortunately, BMW's from the last decade or so have a function called Driver Profiles, so that all of your personalized settings can be paired up to a certain key fob retaining all of your settings. So, for example, if you and your partner use separate key fobs, and your partner drives with the seat set very close to the steering wheel, the key fob assigned to his/her driver profile will remember these settings and automatically change the seat position from yours to theirs. An array of other settings such as navigation, last temperature adjustments, lights, door locks or mirrors (if they come with automatic folding) will also be stored in the profile.

Key fob driver profiles for BMW

Hence, if both of you use completely different in-car settings and are often in too much of a rush to change up every detail, having two key fobs with different profiles may come out as a huge advantage. If you only have one key left and share your car often, you can easily order another fob from BimmerTech to take full advantage of driver profiles.

Want to know more about BMW ignition keys? Here’s everything you need to know about them.

BMW Key fob memory

BMW Key Fob function available in F/E/G-Series models.

Not many people know this but a lot of electronic components in your BMW are equipped with data memories that temporarily or permanently store technical information about the condition of the vehicle, events and faults. And so does your remote control key fob.

It continuously stores all the information on the required maintenance, which is a great convenience for you and your dealer. Anytime you want to do a standard check up on your vehicle or have an unexpected issue, you can hand your BMW ignition key over to your dealer and let him verify the exact state of your car and what your vehicle currently needs. It’s that simple!

You just have to remember to hand your dealer the key fob you’re currently using for driving. The additional one you keep at home and don’t use regularly, won’t have any current data stored ;) 

Want to see all BMW Key Fob hidden features in action? Check out our video:

BMW Display Key

Got a G-Series BMW that you’d like to upgrade with a key like no other? This inconspicuous device will let you control your vehicle in all sorts of ways wherever you are. BMW Display Key goes beyond what is expected from a standard key fob, by letting you access plenty of information about your vehicle remotely. Plus, it allows you to remotely control your car like never before. 

Just have a look at what you can do apart from locking and unlocking your vehicle:

  • sound the horn
  • start the engine remotely
  • use remote control parking*
  • check whether your doors and windows are locked or unlocked 
  • check the fuel range and the brake fluid level
  • open and close the trunk 
  • see if the alarm is turned on
  • see your battery voltage
  • schedule air conditioning in your vehicle
  • monitor your upcoming service requirements

Want to know more about BMW Display Key functions, activation procedures and best resellers? Go to our blog post to find out. 

*If your vehicle came equipped with the Remote Parking option from the factory.

BMW Digital Key

No key fob answered your practical needs yet? You can’t go wrong with this one. BMW Digital Key is a mobile version of your key fob that you can store either on your iPhone, Apple Watch or Android smartphone. Any BMW with factory-original Comfort Access (S322A), automatic transmission and iDrive 7.0 or higher is compatible with Digital Key for Android phones. When it comes to the iPhone Digital key, almost every vehicle produced since July 2020 will be compatible with this technology. 

The Digital Key lets you to conveniently:

  • unlock and lock your BMW 
  • start the engine without using a physical key 
  • share your key access with up to 5 other people
  • restrict certain features for other drivers
  • control your vehicle for up to 5 hours after your phone battery has died

To learn all about BMW Digital Key, including phone requirements and activation procedures, check out this blog post.

Know more hidden key fob tricks that you didn’t see in our blog post? Share your knowledge with us! We’re open for ideas :)




 

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