This month we will be discussing BMW’s valet mode / key feature. This is a feature on all BMWs that has stayed consistent but evolved over time. What is Valet mode? Valet mode allows you to keep the glove box, trunk, and center console (if console is lock equipped) completely locked out from anyone, ideally while allowing someone else to drive your vehicle. While not all of us are visiting upscale hotels and restaurants where we valet our vehicle constantly, many of us have valuables or may want to keep valuables in our vehicle if we were confident we could secure them in the vehicle. We may also allow someone else frequent use of our vehicle but do not want them to access our personal items. Originally conceptualized for a “valet” situation, where you allow someone to valet your car without allowing them access to your valuable compartments, you can use this feature with other family and friends that just exude confidence in your ability to trust them!
How is this accomplished?
While specifics vary there are common themes: There are two types of keys for BMWs: a “conventional remote” which is still an actual key with a remote fob portion. These are mid 2000’s and earlier vehicles. With these vehicles, a separate mechanical “valet key” was supplied with the vehicle when originally purchased. It is a grey key without a remote fob. In any BMW that uses this style key, the glove box and trunk lid must be manually locked with your conventional remote key. From there, you give your valet key to whomever you want to be able to drive your vehicle and your keep your conventional remote key. The valet key will work to unlock/lock the vehicle doors and start the engine, but will NOT work mechanically to open the glove box or trunk lid.
The Second Type of Key
The second type of key is a “fob” type remote, which is mid 2000’s and newer, where the mechanical key is actually hidden in the key fob you use to start your vehicle. With these vehicles, there is typically a “hotel” or “valet” switch in the glove box, or it is in the center console if the console locks. Be advised only 7 series and certain 5 series have a locking center console. With these vehicles, you would turn the switch to the lock position, then lock the center console / glove box with the slide out mechanical key inside of your key fob. You then keep the mechanical key with you, and give the fob to whomever you are allowing to drive your vehicle.
An interesting side note is if you have an older generation BMW with the “conventional remote”, valet keys are also an affordable option if you need a spare key that you don’t mind having to mechanically use in the driver’s door to lock/unlock as they are around the $60-$80 range as opposed to $200-$280 range for a conventional remote.
We can tell you from experience at Ultimate Auto from cases of seized locks, that while a plastic glove box lock may not look like much, any trunk or glove box lock on a BMW is a time consuming challenge to break into. So take comfort in knowing that anything you choose to lock in your glove box or trunk lid will be safe and secure!
As always, if you have any questions about specifics of your vehicle or believe you are experiencing a malfunction contrary to what was described here, contact us at 8335 W Sherman St Suite #200 Tolleson AZ 85353 where we will be happy to schedule you an appointment!