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Electrical :: How to make a replacement key fob for cheap

  #1  
Old 03-18-2010, 01:43 PM
jasohn
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Electrical :: How to make a replacement key fob for cheap

I recently purchased a used 2006 Mini that came with an old type key with no FOB buttons. It seems like whoever came into possession of this vehicle decided to have keys cut cheaply to be able to sell it. I found to my chagrin that a new FOB key would cost me at least $150 to have made at a Mini dealership. Even a non-FOB key would cost $50 to have made.

I scoured the online forums and found no threads with instructions on making a Mini key cheaply. Luckily, I was able to create my own Mini FOB key for about $60.

1. Buy yourself a cheap used FOB key off of eBay (see Figure 1). I won my key for about $10 after shipping. Of course, the key won't be cut to your car, but you can program the FOB quite easily to your car. To program the key, put your existing key in the ignition and turn it to the AC on position while holding your new eBay key close to the existing key. Remove your existing key from the ignition, then hold the eBay key close to the rear view mirror. Hold down the eBay key's unlock button while pressing the lock button three times, then release both buttons.

2. Buy a new cut key from the dealer (see Figure 2). I couldn't figure a way out of getting the key cut by the dealer, and the laser cutting would've cost just as much at a key shop. The dealer charged me about $50 for the key. Also, if you tell them that you purchased the car from another dealer and the dealer sent you to get a key cut, you might be able to get a dealer discount (saved me about 20%). My car salesman neighbor showed me this by calling the Mini dealer's parts department and asked them to give me a dealer discount.

3. Pry open both your newly cut key and the eBay key (see Figure 3). I used a flathead screwdriver and gently hammered the edge into the side groove of the key. You'll need the front side of the eBay key and the back side of the new key, so try to angle away from those sides so as not to do too much damage to them.
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:49 PM
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How to make a Mini Cooper FOB Key cheap (Part 2)

4. Once you're able to work the screwdriver into the key, it should pop open after a little bit of prying. I used a wrench to hold the key while I pryed it open (see Figure 4).

5. The eBay key, popped open, looks like this (see Figure 5). You'll find the FOB's IC board inside.

6. The newly cut key, popped open, looks like this (see Figure 6). You can see the Immobilizer Chip in the front cover.
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:05 PM
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How to make a Mini Cooper FOB Key cheap (Part 3)

7. Remove the Immobilizer chip from the new key's front cover by bending the posts that hold it in place (see Figure 7).

8. Pull off the Immobilizer chip from the eBay key's IC board (see Figure 8). It's the long chip in the corner with the coiled wire around it. I used a wrench to physically rip the chip off. Don't worry about destroying the chip, since it's not programmed to your car anyways. Pull off as much of the gunk that surrounded the eBay key's Immobilizer chip so you get as flat a surface as possible.

9. Attach the new key's Immobilizer chip to the FOB IC board (see Figure 9). I used generic superglue to glue it in place.
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:12 PM
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How to make a Mini Cooper FOB Key cheap (Part 4)

10. Place the FOB IC board back into the eBay key's front cover. Put some superglue on the inside edges of your new key's back half (the piece with the metal cut key), and attach the eBay key's front cover/IC board half onto the new key's back half. Tape the key together and let the glue dry (see Figure 10).

Congratulations! You have a new Mini Cooper FOB key for about $60. Hope this helps.

Jason
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:55 PM
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Okay I need some clarification here...why not just purchase the cut key from the dealer, and then program it the same way you programed the eBay key? Why purchase the eBay key at all?

I feel stupid.
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:24 PM
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The key he got from the dealer is JUST A KEY - doesn't have the remote buttons. By doing this, he got a working remote control key ($150 value) for the price of a non-remote key ($50) + $10 for the used remote key from ebay
 
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:27 PM
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The dealer provides two types of cut keys with programmed Immobilizer chips...a key with the FOB remote buttons ($150 or more), and a key without the FOB remote buttons ($50 or more). This is a way to save a hundred bucks or so.
 
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:40 AM
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Immobilizer may have charged FOB

Looking back at the modification, I'm starting to think that maybe all the copper coil wrapped around the Immobilizer chip on the FOB was to charge the FOB. I'm devising a way to do this with the new Immobilizer chip right now. Anyone have any suggestions about this?
 
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:26 PM
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Does this work on the older 02-03 keys? Meaning following the same method but with an 02-03 key bought from ebay.
 
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:20 AM
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I haven't tried opening up the older type key that I have, but I still have to figure out the charging mechanism for the FOBs. The copper coil I yanked out of the IC board keeps the battery charged. I'm ordering another eBay FOB and testing a few theories I have as to how to remove or reset the FOB immobilizer without removing the coil.

As far as the older style keys, I do see a gap large enough to pop it open, but I haven't tried it yet.
 
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:38 AM
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I'm noticing that used FOBs from eBay are getting pricier. Maybe I got lucky when I got one for $6 + shipping a couple of months ago.
 
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:25 AM
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The 03 key pops open, might be the same for 02. Shove a small screwdriver where the key shaft meets the plastic and pry it open. After you're done it all just snaps back together.
 
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Old 07-02-2010, 04:25 AM
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the lock button on my FOB is gone :( looking around ebay, i came across this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/02-03...#ht_5276wt_810

can i just transfer everything in my existing FOB into this?
 
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:05 PM
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Macky, Assuming it's just the button that's gone (internals are still there) you should be able to use that shell replacement you found on eBay.
 
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:45 PM
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Kudos to your ingenuity.

I personally would pay for a dealer made key if I ever needed it.

I still have 2 virgin keys for my car. Both with full buttons, but only one with the silver MINI wings. It is odd to think that my main key used to have a texture to the plastic. My plastic valet key has only been used by service shops, since I never surrender my main key. It is in my pocket all of the time regardless of where I am. I even took it with me to Tokyo.
 
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:35 PM
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Just an update:

After a year with this key modification, the keys that I've made this way still work. No problems with this whatsoever.

Has anyone tried this method and didn't get a good key out of it?
 
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:10 PM
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hello jasohn,

i have the key like the one you purchused from ebay (with the three buttons on it). i think the battery is not holding the charge anymore. it locks and unlocks intermittently. does this key have a rechargeable battery and can it be raplced?
 
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:52 PM
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Anyone know why they abandoned the inclusion of a 'valet' key with the MINIs? My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I thought my 06 had one, and I know my 11 does not. It's a great emergency back up to a lost FOB.
 
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:29 PM
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Hi Crackerjack,

If you look at the 5th picture in the thread, you should see the key fob's ic board, and in the middle of it there's a large round silver object. I didn't tinker with this object, but my assumption is that object is the rechargable battery for the key.

At one time my fiancee told me the key I had made for wasn't producing a strong enough signal for her to lock and unlock from a distance, but somehow it resolved itself. I haven't researched enough about how the key recharges when in the ignition, but I'm assuming that whatever electrical circuit that charges the key should be pretty foolproof.

Jason
 
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:34 PM
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thirdraildesignlab,

That's a funny coincidence because I bought a used '06 convertible last April, and ended up buying a '11 convertible S last Sat. You're right, there was the 2 key fobs but no valet, but I bought some kind of key insurance warranty for $300, and apparently it covers the Mini key and every other key on your keychain. Sounded like an amazing warranty considering the $ they want to replace these keys.
 
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:38 AM
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Thanks for this

Hey Jason, thanks for taking the time to do this. I have been looking all over the Net and did not find anything and I was real reluctant to pay the dealer $200 for a new fully functional key with FOB.

I will be trying this out and let you know what happens.

Here is my situation, for anyone who happens on this thread, from a Google search:

I have a 2006 MINI Convertible. It came with two keys with Fobs, but no valet key, even though the manual indicated it did come with a valet key (I am the second owner, bought the MINI in June 2008).

Anyway, all was well until four months ago I was crossing a busy San Francisco street and as I was running to avoid speeding cars, my keys fell off my pant waistband and on to the middle of the road.

When I later noticed my keys missing and retraced my steps, in a couple hours I saw the keys in the middle of the road. Many keys had been destroyed from vehicles running over them, most bent in half and when straightened they snapped.

The MINI key was intact, the actual key. But the fob housing was smashed.

So I removed the key from the housing and now had a "valet" key of sorts. But while that key unlocked the door it would not turn on the ignition. I only tried it once so maybe it was something I was doing wrong (for all I know I forgot to press in the clutch). I will try it again, doing everything right and report back.

Anyway, I, like others, about two years back bought a key blank w/ fob on eBay, for about $30 (bought it just to have a spare should I ever need a key cut).

It will be sweet if following the procedures in here if I can remove the uncut blank, replace it with my MINI "OEM" key, glue it all back together and do the "self-programming" described in here.

Oh, if the new "valet" key I have works (the key from the destroyed fob) I will report back.

Sidenote: Mine is NOT an alarm system, it's a "keyless entry" that simply opens the doors and the trunk. I am not sure if this means the fob is less complicated because there's not an auto immobiliser built in. At least I don't think there's an immobiliser function.

Also, as I recall from reading the manual way back, there may be programming that the dealer can enter, that will then operate the windows (open/close) etc. But I have never been able to get that to work, so I assume that my fob does not have that feature or no one ever asked the dealer to program that functionality into the fob.

As I recall when reading in here about this feature, one informs the dealer what features to activate on the fob and the dealer does so, at a charge.
When I took my car in for service or warranty work I always forgot to ask about programming the keys for that extra functionality.
 
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jasohn View Post
Looking back at the modification, I'm starting to think that maybe all the copper coil wrapped around the Immobilizer chip on the FOB was to charge the FOB. I'm devising a way to do this with the new Immobilizer chip right now. Anyone have any suggestions about this?

On just looking at the pics, that copper coil appears to be the antenna. Looking elsewhere I don't see anything that looks like its functioning as an antenna, so that is it?

Just thinking out loud. If I open my fob and see that same coil, then it has to be the antenna since my car did not come with an immobiliser.
 
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:08 AM
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MichaelSF,

Did you already get another key cut by the dealership? When I tried to start the car with the immobilizer chip taken out of the key housing, the key would turn, but the car wouldn't start. I also tried starting the car with the eBay key innards without taking the chip's immobilizer off, and that didn't work either. I even tried shoving the new immobilizer chip in the housing without clearing out the ebay key's chip, and even that didn't work.

I'd take a look to see if the new $50 key cut by the dealership has an immobilizer inside.

By the way, both the keys I made are still working just fine.

Good luck!

Jason
 
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:27 AM
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You could just buy a replacement key fob for cheap at Keyless-remotes.com. They ship very quick and they have just about every make/model available.
 
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:37 AM
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No one but BMW sells BMW keys.

Originally Posted by Linda Baker View Post
You could just buy a replacement key fob for cheap at Keyless-remotes.com. They ship very quick and they have just about every make/model available.
----------------------------------------------

Wish it were that easy. BMW keys (and Mini Keys, of course) must be purchased from BMW dealers. NO ONE sells spare keys other than the dealers.
 

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