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Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

30 min

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Small flat-head screwdriver, paper clip

Applicable Models:

323i/Ci (1999-00)
325i/Ci (2001-05)
325Xi (2001-05)
330i/Ci (2001-05)
330xi (2001-05)
328i/Ci (1999-00)

Parts Required:

Ignition lock cylinder

Hot Tip:

Jiggle key if lock cylinder won't come out.

Performance Gain:

Repair worn ignition lock cylinder

Complementary Modification:

Replace steering wheel

The ignition switch in BMW E46 vehicles consists of four major components:

  • The lock cylinder is the traditional key slot with cylindrical tumblers and a matching key.
  • The electronic immobilizer (EWS) rings antenna surrounds the lock cylinder. A key introduced into the lock cylinder must, in addition to rotating the cylinder, electronically interact with the EWS system. The engine control module (ECM) must get the correct signal from EWS in order to allow the starter and the engine management system to operate.
  • The steering lock prevents rotation of the steering shaft until the key rotates the lock cylinder.
  • The starter motor contact supplies battery power to the starter solenoid to start the vehicle if the EWS recognizes the key.

The ignition lock cylinder wears out over time making it hard to unlock the steering wheel and start your BMW E46. The tumblers inside the lock cylinder wear out leaving you with an inoperable ignition lock. You may not be able to turn the key or it works only when jiggled. There is also an anti-theft pin in the lock cylinder to prevent the ignition lock cylinder from being forced to the start position. If forced without the correct key, this pin shears and the lock cylinder then will spin freely 360 degrees. This can add to the problem with a worn tumbler. When you attempt to turn (unlock) the ignition, it rotates freely without unlocking. If you have any of the above issues, replace your ignition lock cylinder.

Before you condemn your ignition lock cylinder, check whether your ignition key is in good shape. Try a spare key and if you still have an issue with binding, replace the ignition lock cylinder.

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO SECURITY/SAFETY ISSUES, ONLY A BMW DEALER CAN ORDER A REPLACEMENT LOCK. CODING IS ALSO REQUIRED. 

To avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Turn ignition key to on position--
Figure 1

Turn ignition key to on position--also known as accessory position.

Insert straightened paper clip or mechanics wire into hold near key slot (green arrow).
Figure 2

Insert straightened paper clip or mechanics wire into hold near key slot (green arrow). Wiggle paper clip until you feel it bottom out. Once it bottoms out, lock cylinder will feel loose if wiggled.

This photo shows wire and how it unlocks ignition lock cylinder retainer and allows it to be removed.
Figure 3

This photo shows wire and how it unlocks ignition lock cylinder retainer and allows it to be removed. The wire passes through retainer and releases it. Green arrows point to wire.

Next, slide ignition switch out of steering column.
Figure 4

Next, slide ignition switch out of steering column. You may have to rock it a bit to clear EWS antenna ring electrical connector.

Disconnect EWS antenna ring electrical connector by releasing tab (green arrow) and pulling off.
Figure 5

Disconnect EWS antenna ring electrical connector by releasing tab (green arrow) and pulling off.

Using a small flat-head screwdriver, lever off EWS antenna by releasing tabs and pulling off.
Figure 6

Using a small flat-head screwdriver, lever off EWS antenna by releasing tabs and pulling off. There are three tabs on antenna ring you have to release. Do not snap EWS antenna ring on new lock cylinder yet.

Place key on lock cylinder and move to ON position.
Figure 7

Place key on lock cylinder and move to ON position. Then slide into steering column, rotate key to off and remove to engage locking tab.

Plug in electrical connector and slide EWS antenna ring over ignition lock cylinder.
Figure 8

Plug in electrical connector and slide EWS antenna ring over ignition lock cylinder. Check operation of lock cylinder and you are done.

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Comments and Suggestions:
The driver Comments: Do I need to code the ews after antenna replacement?
October 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Antenna only, no. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Holder Comments: what can i do if the lock cylinder is locked up and can't turn it at all??
September 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Drill it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Yanni Comments: Nice writeup!
Is this the same process for a 2006 E83 ?
June 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the procedure for that model is different. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
G W Comments: I cannot get the paper clip in the lock cylinder, it won't turn to on. What can I do to get it out?
May 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Drill the lock cylinder out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jmerc Comments: Yea but idk if anyone else had this problem but i snapped the shaft to the steering lock and to the ignition switch looks like the door lock shaft
May 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Shaft? The locking tab on the lock or the slot in the column?

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
kp Comments: E46 ignition cylinder... If I replace the cylinder will I need to have a new key or I can use my existing key
June 19, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The lock cylinder should come with a key to match your vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:19:59 AM