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Ignition Switch Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Ignition Switch Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Small flat head screwdriver, lock cylinder tool stiff wire

Applicable Models:

BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006)

Parts Required:

Ignition lock cylinder, EWS antenna, Ignition switch

Hot Tip:

Always disconnect battery before working on your electrical system. Wait ten minutes after battery is disconnected before working with airbag.

Performance Gain:

Repair lock cylinder or ignition switch

Complementary Modification:

Replace EWS antenna while you are in there.

The ignition switch in BMW Z4 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 column lock prevents rotation of the steering shaft until the lock cylinder is rotated by the key. Covered separately.

The electrical switch supplies battery power to the starter solenoid to start the vehicle if EWS recognizes the key.

Here are some potential problems with the ignition switch and a few suggestions how to proceed:

Before you condemn your ignition lock cylinder, check whether your ignition key is in good shape. Try a spare key. I have seen many worn keys over the years. If you still have an issue with binding, replace the ignition lock cylinder.

The mechanical lock cylinder wears out from normal use. The lock cylinder may become difficult to turn or jam. 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. In this case, you will need to replace the ignition lock cylinder.

There is an antitheft 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 spins 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 this problem, replace your ignition lock cylinder.

The electrical switch also wears out, creating a no start condition or electrical gremlins. I have seen warning lights on, power windows not working and many other problems caused by a faulty ignition switch. If you have low voltage to fuses or weird electrical gremlins, check the power out of the switch. It should match battery volts. If it does not, there may be resistance inside the switch, dropping the voltage and causing your problems. Replace the electrical switch.

In this tech article I will show you how to replace either the ignition lock cylinder or the ignition electrical switch: or both.

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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Lock Cylinder: This is the BMW special tool 32 3 110 (inset) used to remove the lock cylinder (click on the link to order).
Figure 1

Lock Cylinder: This is the BMW special tool 32 3 110 (inset) used to remove the lock cylinder (click on the link to order). You can also use a piece of stiff wire or a paper clip. Before I had this tool, I used a paper clip. The benefit of this tool is the bend in it, designed to release the locking tab when the tool is rotated, and it works great. This is the hole you will insert the tool into when removing the lock cylinder (red arrow).

Remove the steering wheel.
Figure 2

Remove the steering wheel. Not necessary, but makes the job easier. See our tech article on steering wheel removing. Working at the bottom of the steering column trim, remove the Phillips head screw (red arrow).

Pull the steering column trim down to remove (red arrow).
Figure 3

Pull the steering column trim down to remove (red arrow).

Working at the bottom of the steering column, locate and unplug the microphone electrical connector (red arrow), if equipped.
Figure 4

Working at the bottom of the steering column, locate and unplug the microphone electrical connector (red arrow), if equipped.

Using a plastic prying tool, lever up the soft trim (red arrow) at the back of the upper steering column cover.
Figure 5

Using a plastic prying tool, lever up the soft trim (red arrow) at the back of the upper steering column cover.

Loosen the lower steering column trim Phillips head screw (red arrow).
Figure 6

Loosen the lower steering column trim Phillips head screw (red arrow). Then pull the screw and expanding anchor out of the trim panel (inset).

Then pull the trim panel straight down to remove.
Figure 7

Then pull the trim panel straight down to remove.

Disconnect the EWS antenna connector (red arrow), pull it straight out.
Figure 8

Disconnect the EWS antenna connector (red arrow), pull it straight out.

Rotate the ignition switch (blue arrow) to the accessory position, or one back from run.
Figure 9

Rotate the ignition switch (blue arrow) to the accessory position, or one back from run. Insert the tool (red arrow) and wiggle it until the lock cylinder disengages. You will feel the lock cylinder become loose and it will pull out of steering column. If need, wiggle the key back and forth to seat the tool.

This photo shows the locking tab with the tool installed.
Figure 10

This photo shows the locking tab with the tool installed. The locking tab (red arrow) is in the released position here. This should give you an idea of what you are trying to accomplish.

Once the lock cylinder has been released, pull it out of the steering column (red arrow).
Figure 11

Once the lock cylinder has been released, pull it out of the steering column (red arrow). 

Using a small flat head screwdriver, release the three plastic tabs on the EWS antenna.
Figure 12

Using a small flat head screwdriver, release the three plastic tabs on the EWS antenna. You will have to pull on the antenna while you release the tabs. I find once two of them are released the antenna will pull off. Be careful not to poke yourself with the screwdriver. Then, pull the EWS antenna off the lock cylinder and transfer it over to the new one. Make sure it snaps into place. With the lock cylinder in the accessory position, slide it into the steering column until it locks into place. Do not forget to install the lock cylinder O-ring. Sometimes this gets left off like on my vehicle. I didn't have one and had to source a new one. Check operation using your key. Then reinstall steering column trim and you are done.

Ignition Electrical Switch: Pull the electrical connector (red arrow) release lever (blue arrow) out to disconnect it.
Figure 13

Ignition Electrical Switch: Pull the electrical connector (red arrow) release lever (blue arrow) out to disconnect it.

Pull the electrical connector release lever (red arrow) out to disconnect it.
Figure 14

Pull the electrical connector release lever (red arrow) out to disconnect it. This photos shows the connector being disconnected.

Working at the bottom of the steering column at the ignition switch, scrape out the ignition switch fastener paint (red arrows).
Figure 15

Working at the bottom of the steering column at the ignition switch, scrape out the ignition switch fastener paint (red arrows). I use a small flat head screwdriver to remove the paint. Once the paint is removed, loosen the small flat head screws from the ignition switch (inset).

Once the screws are removed, slide the ignition switch out of the steering column.
Figure 16

Once the screws are removed, slide the ignition switch out of the steering column.

Install the new switch in the reverse order of removal.
Figure 17

Install the new switch in the reverse order of removal. Be sure to align the switch (red arrow) with the tab on the steering column lock (blue arrow). When tightening the screws, hold the switch all the way into the steering column lock. Do not apply too much pressure, but this ensures the switch is properly engaged.

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 03:00:40 AM