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BMW Radio Security Code

April 19, 2010

This answer is applicable for many BMWs in addition to the one listed below.

Recently I removed a speaker that was found to have a detached wire. After the repair and re-install, CODE appeared on my radio. The previous owner had hand written the code in the owner’s manual. The manual does not elaborate on the how to re-code but refers to a radio supplement manual which I do not have. Can you help ?

Most BMW models produced from the early ’80s up through the mid to late ’90s, employ a radio anti-theft security code. Most models from the late ’90s-on do not employ the radio security codes, to include:  3-series 99-on, 5-series 97-on, 7-series 95-on and all later models.

For models without radio security codes:

Power to the vehicle and specifically the radio can be interrupted (such as removing the radio or disconnecting the battery) and there is no affect on the radio operation after power is restored.

For models with radio security codes:

The anti-theft function is activated when the input power to the radio is interrupted (such as removing the radio or disconnecting the battery). When the power is re-connected, the radio will ask for the security code to be input. The codes are typically either 4 or 5 digits. There are two different methods of entering the codes … they are not interchangeable.

1) Method 1 – If you have 5 or 6 memory keys , the code is entered in the order of the keys. In other words, if the code were 23241, you would push the 2 key, then 3, then 2, etc. If this doesn’t work you can try Method 2.

2) Method 2 – In this case, the code is entered in succession on the memory keys. In other words (using the same code as above), key 1 is pressed two times, key 2 is pressed three times, key 3 is pressed two times …. etc.

If, during the entry, or after the code is entered, the radio beeps and says WAIT or CODE WAIT this means that you have entered the code incorrectly (you will get at least two chances to enter the code, before it knocks you out) and you must now perform a reset procedure. Turn the radio off. Now turn the key to the accessory or ignition position (position 1 or 2) and wait for one hour. After one hour, turn the radio on (do not change the position of the key) and you should see the CODE function and you can attempt to enter the code again.

In the future, if you need to interrupt the power to the radio, you can use the Memory Saver Tool. The tool plugs into the lighter socket and supplies just enough power to keep the system memories while you perform a short service (battery replacement, etc.).

Click below for Memory Saver Tool:

George Wrote Back:

Your method worked. I let the car idle for just over one hour and the radio accepted the five digit code. I did leave the radio on during the idle process.      (note from Otto – you do not need to actually have the engine running)

Thanks so much for your support…great to hear the tunes and the repaired speaker adds alot to the audio.

Bavarian Autosport

  1. George Alger permalink

    Dear Otto,
    Your method worked. I let the car idle for just over one hour and the radio accepted the five diget code. I did leave the radio on during the idle process.

    Thanks so much for your support…great to hear the tunes and the repaired speaker adds alot to the audio.


  2. Minh permalink

    Do NOT leave the car idling. Turn the key position to “On”, do not start the engine. My car took exactly 1 hr.


    • As Minh noted, you do not have to have the engine running (although, you can). All you need is to put the key in the ACCESSORY position, so that the radio has power to it.

  3. Here’s an official BMW write-up, submitted by a BavAuto BLOG reader:

    Updated by TSB #6502933729 Nov 1986.

    The BMW anti-theft radio circuitry is designed to essentially render your radio unsalable if it is stolen. If the radio is subsequently electrically reconnected, it will not operate until a five-digit security code assigned to your radio is entered. The anti-theft features and operation are as follows:

    After the ignition key is removed, the red “anti-theft” LED will continuously flash, drawing attention to this feature.
    Should anyone, such as a thief, touch any push-button on the radio after the key is removed, the anti-theft inscription will flash and a warning tone will sound for 5 minutes or until the ignition is turned ON .
    Should the voltage supply to the radio drop below 5 volts due to a dead battery, electrical repairs, or radio removal (such as theft), the radio will not function when voltage is restored. The word “code” will show in the display only.
    The proper 5-digit code shown on the TWO CARDS SUPPLIED TO YOU must then be entered (using the proper number radio push-button selectors in the bottom row) when the radio is on and the display shows “code”. If the correct code is not entered in three successive tries , the radio will not accept entry until the radio has been left on for one hour with the ignition ON . IMPORTANT: When entering 5-digit code number, be sure to complete sequence number of that 5-digit code. For example: Code No. sequence is 43215 and you mistakenly enter 42 instead of 3, continue the code number sequence of 215 to complete that entry. The radio will not operate and “code” will reappear in the display. Re-enter the correct number sequence of 43215 and operation of the radio will continue. The likelihood of guessing the correct code is extremely remote. The radio is, therefore, unsalable to a thief. NOTE: If an audible beep is heard while entering the 5-digit code, STOP immediately ! Begin entering the code again, starting with the first number of the 5-digit code.
    The code card should be placed in your wallet, or with the vehicle title papers for security as deemed necessary by your individual needs.
    Should radio or electrical repairs become necessary, please give the repairing facility the radio code number. If you do not, only authorized BMW dealer personnel can obtain the code from BMW.
    Should you lose your code cards, contact the nearest BMW dealer who will then obtain your code from BMW. You may be charged for removal of the radio to ascertain the radio chassis number.
    Install the 2 enclosed warning decals in accordance with motor vehicle regulations.

  4. Edgar permalink

    Hi, I read this post but I’m quite confused; the radio should be off while I turn the key to position 1 (accesory)? so the car should be idle for 1 hr and then turn on the radio adn the car? I have a Z3 2001…
    Thanks a lot

    • The radio can be on or off. The ignition or accessory position on the ignition switch must be on for the 1-hour period. Once the time is completed, turn on the radio (if it was off) or if it was already on, input the security code (do not change the key position until the code has been input and accepted).

  5. Mike permalink

    I tried my 97 ti in the 1 (Accessory position) for over an hour and it never went back to ask me the code, just stayed at WAIT. Should I have been in the 2 (Run) position?

    • The Accessory position should work, since the radio is fully powered up in this position. Try again and if it stays on WAIT, turn the radio off and then back on (do not turn the key off) and see if it changes to CODE.

  6. Mike permalink


    I tried it again once on the Accessory position for 90 minutes with no success then started completely over on the Run postion for 2 hours with no success. Each time the radio was OFF

    Then I restarted the whole process but left the radio ON and didn’t do anything differently and this time it worked. Who knows why but it did?!

    Thanks for the help!


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