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Thread: key won't rotate in ignition switch or start car

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    485

    Default key won't rotate in ignition switch or start car

    Neither of my keys will rotate in the ignition switch to start the car. Parked car, came back an hour later, and now neither of my two keys will work. So, it's not the keys, which are both intact.

    What is the fix for a suddenly faulty or jammed ignition switch? The steering wheel will come unlocked (barely) with insertion of the key, so I've tried to start the car after turning the wheel either way, but no luck.

    Can the ignition module be removed, and/or the car hotwired to drive home?

    Advice, anyone?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    130

    Default

    Seems to be a common problem. Mine turned out to be a faulty steering lock - there is a projection out of the inner end of the lock cylinder which operates the steering lock. I am assuming yours is similar to mine (89 535i). You need to get the lock cylinder out. Should be plenty of previous posts explaining this, including one of mine on this forum and on Roadfly E34 5 series forum.

    bill g

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    485

    Default

    Thanks, Bill,

    I can hold the key and rotate it just enough to release the steering lock and turn the steering wheel, but the key won't turn far enough to engage the ignition or the accessory position, so no radio, and no start, etc.. I don't think the key will rotate ~60 degrees to insert an allen wrench and remove the ignition lock barrel.

    So, I suspect the trouble is within the lock barrel itself, and not the steering lock. So, how to get that thing out, without insertion of an allen wrench, paper clip, etc.?

    BMA has an OEM lock barrel for ~$49, as of now I but don't know if that comes pre-set for my key. (Reportedly, BMW dealers sell lock barrels pre-set to your key, if you provide your VIN.)

    Any more ideas on diagnosis and repair of this particular key/lock problem?


    Quote Originally Posted by bill g
    Seems to be a common problem. Mine turned out to be a faulty steering lock - there is a projection out of the inner end of the lock cylinder which operates the steering lock. I am assuming yours is similar to mine (89 535i). You need to get the lock cylinder out. Should be plenty of previous posts explaining this, including one of mine on this forum and on Roadfly E34 5 series forum.

    bill g

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    130

    Default

    I just kept fiddling with the key until it turned to radio position which is 60 degrees - it took ages and maybe I was lucky. If you cannot get the lock barrel out by the proper method then you probably have to use brute force or get a locksmith to do it. I am sure someone on this board would have used those methods at some time. Be careful not to set off the air bag if the car has one.

    bill g

  5. #5

    Default

    Squirt some penetrating stuff through the key slot and let it soak in,it helped me to free it up.No more probs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    485

    Default ig. key won't turn in lock to start

    When your ig. lock seized, was there any prior warning or indication?

    Mine was totally symptom- and error-free until I went to start it after sitting for an hour. In other words, no history of being stiff, jamming, or whatever. I did not hear any noise from is as might be expected if an internal part snapped or broke, either. No nuthin--suddenly just won't turn more than just enough to release the steering lock, and then only when twisting the key.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    446

    Default

    Dash - Check your Pms. Mine worked fine the night before when I shut off the car but the next morning it wouldn't budge. If you steering lock has freed up you're ahead of the game. Try the penetrating oil, that may have helped mine its hard to say. Just keep trying the key while jiggling the wheel & it should eventually turn.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Eastern Tennessee USi
    Posts
    14,679

    Default

    if it turns part of the way I suspect its in the linkage for the shifter or clutch or something of that sort. no clue what car you have.
    95 E34 530I V2.31
    ===========
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

    John F. Kennedy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    485

    Default It's a '90 535i automatic transmission

    It easily turns about 45 degrees, but no further. It's been repeatedly doused with graphite locksmith's spray.

    How does the shifter linkage come into play with this non-rotating key issue? The car will shift into Park, Neutral, Drive, etc.. I have the lower plastic cover off the ig. key/tumbler assy, but have not noticed any shifter linkage, just the multi-pin plug for the electric wires, etc..

    Pls. advise, and thanks!




    Quote Originally Posted by 632 Regal
    if it turns part of the way I suspect its in the linkage for the shifter or clutch or something of that sort. no clue what car you have.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    485

    Default

    Also, I've tried the allen wrench trick, but the key won't rotate far enough for the allen wrench to penetrate more than ~ 6mm, whereas it needs ~20 mm. So far, cannot insert the allen wrench to remove the tumbler assy.

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