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BMW M328i, Remote Refresh

BMW remote keys have a reputation for the rubber buttons wearing out. Thankfully it’s not that hard to give them a spruce up.

The rubber buttons on the remote go soft and wear out from repeated use and age. This makes them hard to press, ugly and sometimes if they go sticky, unpleasant to touch.

Both of the keys that came with the car look the same. The Lock button is just sticky mush that doesn’t actually respond unless you mash your finger inside the rubber, and all the diagrams have worn off.

Start by accessing the screws on the back of the housing. If it’s still there, there will be a small panel covering them that just pops off

Remove the screws and the back will come off. This is also a good time to change the batteries if they are low. CR1220 x2.

The guts of the remote are a press fit into the housing. Gently dig it out of the housing and put to one side.

Now you can see the horror. The mashed up rubber. Also note in the above photo, the black thing at the top of the key with writing on it, that is the EWS transponder chip. These don’t tend to be held in with anything, and will take any opportunity to fall out and piss off somewhere hard to find it again. Take it out and put it somewhere safe. Don’t lose it or its a new key plus coding.

I purchased a couple of these “Replacement Remote Key Fob Case Shell 3 Buttons Fit For Bmw E38 E39 E36 Black” from Ebay. There are some different variations depending on what sort of key you have.

The ones I bought have the provision for a red light to flash through the housing. Unfortunately my older style keys don’t have the light, it’s where the transponder lives, so I had to cut that off the new button pads. This did need further trimming to fit the EWS chip in snuggly.

The old button pad is held in by being moulded through small notches in the key housing. You can push the old rubber pads out from the front, but if they are still stuck in there you may need to cut around the edges to help it along.

The replacement button pad pushes in from the back of the housing.

This took a lot of trimming to fit the transponder chip in, and also to fit a capacitor that sticks out on the circuit board. I had to trim along the orange line to give it space, or it would push the Lock button outwards

I reassembled the key, and tested. The buttons are much easier to press now and work reliably. The key looks and feels nicer.

The fit isn’t perfect, and the buttons don’t quite sit flush, but I’m hoping as they wear in a bit it will level out.

Over all though, for the $1.09 per button pad, it’s a steal and such an easy way to give it new life. Sometimes it’s the small things that are the best.

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