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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 12-29-2012, 09:05 PM   #1
cyberkaa
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Arrow DIY: How to Disable E46 Steering Lock (without cutting or drilling!)

A few people have asked about easy ways to disable the E46 steering wheel lock built into the steering column. Disabling the lock is required by some racing organizations, but may also be a matter of personal preference. Either way, this DIY provides an easy method that requires only basic tools, no additional parts, and only a few minutes of your time.

Tools required:
-Flat-head screwdriver
-Needle nose pliers
-Ignition lock cylinder removal tool (or a paperclip or other suitable substitute)

Prerequisites:
-Understand how to remove the ignition tumbler
-Understand how to remove the steering column trim
-Understand how to replace the ignition switch

We'll be working in this area of the car:


1. Remove lower steering column trim. Pull down the lower trim panel slightly (no need to completely remove it). Underneath the steering column, push the centers of the two plastic rivets through and pull the rivets out. They're reusable so save them.


Separate the lower steering column trim from the upper half and pull the lower trim piece out.


The ignition switch is now exposed:


2. With key in position 1, insert pin and remove lock cylinder. Leave pin with lock cylinder for reinstallation.


3. Look into the hole where the lock cylinder used to be and observe the locking shaft with a slot in it as well as the separate 2-toothed cylinder that surrounds it. Our goal is to reverse the 2-toothed cylinder.


4. Using flat-head screwdriver, turn locking shaft CCW towards position 0.


Note the exposed outer groove which is used by the lock cylinder retaining tooth.

Also note the notch cut into the bore at the 10 o'clock position.

The 2-toothed cylinder has a tab/key that keeps it in the locking shaft bore in a second groove farther in. Once it lines up with the notch in the 10 o'clock position, the 2-toothed cylinder will slide right out. You'll notice that you probably can't quite turn the shaft CCW far enough to get it to line up, so...

5. Unclip ignition switch.


6. Turn locking shaft slightly CCW until key on 2-toothed cylinder lines up with notch and remove 2-toothed cylinder.


Pliers help to remove the cylinder.


You'll see a spring left behind it on the lock shaft.

Also observe the steering column release mechanism. The black tooth (appears gray in photo) in the background above the locking shaft is pushed back by the 2-toothed cylinder when the key is turned to release the steering lock.

The front of the 2-toothed cylinder has two indentations that accomodate the teeth on the back of the lock cylinder, i.e. the cylinders turn together.

The lock cylinder has a third plastic tooth that extends only when the key is turned. This causes the 2-toothed cylinder to move backwards into the bore and release the steering lock.

Note that this is a great time to lube up all of the moving parts of the lock assembly.

7. Flip 2-toothed cylinder around so that the indentations that correspond to the back of the lock cylinder now face into the bore instead of outward.

Observe the contact area that engages the steering lock (indicated by marred surface of the upper left quarter).

8. Insert 2-toothed cylinder back into locking bore, using screwdriver to align the teeth onto the locking shaft.

This requires some care since the orientation of the 2 teeth relative to the tab/key is not the same when the cylinder is reversed. Ensure that the orientation of the lock shaft relative to the ignition switch at position 0 is correct. This means turning the assembly to a different position than in the original orientation.

The tab/key will catch on the first groove (which is for the lock cylinder retainer) so be sure to insert all the way until the tab/key reaches the second groove farther in.


9. Rotate lock shaft and 2-toothed cylinder to position 0 and install ignition switch.


10. With the lock shaft rotated to position 1 (slot roughly vertical), install lock cylinder. You will be pressing the lock cylinder against the 2-toothed cylinder which is held forward by spring pressure, so if it feels springier going in than usual, you've done it correctly. Withdraw the lock cylinder removal tool in order to engage the lock cylinder retaining tooth.


Install the lower steering column trim and that's it. Your steering wheel will now move freely even with the key removed.
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i'd rather be gapless with no bulge
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:59 PM   #2
NumbaOneNewb
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thanks bro. ill be needing this here soon and will be part of my diy on how to operate our vehicle entirely without a traditional key. plus i always wanted a non redundant and actual working push button starter.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:36 PM   #3
cyberkaa
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No prob.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:46 PM   #4
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Great DIY. I want to do this because I cannot turn the key, the darn thing is jammed. I spent 2 hours, tried bunch of things. I will be calling AAA tomorrow to see if they can help. This is the second time I had this I want to disable the lock completely.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adanali View Post
Great DIY. I want to do this because I cannot turn the key, the darn thing is jammed. I spent 2 hours, tried bunch of things. I will be calling AAA tomorrow to see if they can help. This is the second time I had this I want to disable the lock completely.
Thank you for the kind words.

This may be a long shot, but have you tried turning the steering wheel while trying to turn the key? If there's pressure on the black tooth, it won't let go of the cylinder.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:23 AM   #6
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Tried everything, pressing down the brakes, turning the wheel, even rolling the car back and forth, jacking up one side at a time... But I could not find WD40. In the end I got a ride home. This morning, came back to the car with AAA guy who had WD40. After WD40 about 10 minutes later it unlocked. Now works like a charm. But I will give it more WD40 later when I get home. I would love to do this DIY so I do not have to worry about this ever again.

It is funny that the AAA guy said my car was the second one he got called out on for the same problem this morning. He said he has had many BMW cars with this problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyberkaa View Post
Thank you for the kind words.

This may be a long shot, but have you tried turning the steering wheel while trying to turn the key? If there's pressure on the black tooth, it won't let go of the cylinder.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adanali View Post
Tried everything, pressing down the brakes, turning the wheel, even rolling the car back and forth, jacking up one side at a time... But I could not find WD40. In the end I got a ride home. This morning, came back to the car with AAA guy who had WD40. After WD40 about 10 minutes later it unlocked. Now works like a charm. But I will give it more WD40 later when I get home. I would love to do this DIY so I do not have to worry about this ever again.

It is funny that the AAA guy said my car was the second one he got called out on for the same problem this morning. He said he has had many BMW cars with this problem.
Unfortunately, the WD-40 will only be a temporary fix. Also, I'd use Lock-Ease over that for this particular situation.

There are really two separate problems that can cause the cylinder to jam up.
One possibility is that the sliding pins in the lock cylinder and/or the key are worn out, in which case spraying lubricant directly into the key hole loosens it up.
The second is that the steering wheel lock is the cause, in which case it's pretty difficult the get the lubricant that far just by spraying it as you have to go around the cylinder to get to the mechanism. For that, I think a medium weight grease similar to what BMW uses from the factory would be a better solution.
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i'd rather be gapless with no bulge
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:46 PM   #8
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could you just lube up the penetrator and use the key to get it up in there really good?
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NumbaOneNewb View Post
could you just lube up the penetrator and use the key to get it up in there really good?
That will only work for the cylinder, unfortunately.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:25 PM   #10
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Do you know of a DIY or have any tips on removing the ignition switch on an e30? I need to tackle this tomorrow and will have very limited time to figure things out. Not sure if I actually need to remove the lock cylinder or not
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peytonracer4 View Post
Do you know of a DIY or have any tips on removing the ignition switch on an e30? I need to tackle this tomorrow and will have very limited time to figure things out. Not sure if I actually need to remove the lock cylinder or not
IIRC, the DIY in the Bentley manual is good.
You have to remove the kick panel and steering column trim. Possibly have to remove the steering wheel, which varies on whether or not your E30 has an airbag. Once you have the covers off, the rest is obvious.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:31 PM   #12
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Bumping.

I turned key to position 1 and insert a pin to lock the cylinder.
Now my question is do I turn the cylinder? Maybe pull it?
Mine doesnt want to come out.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jM2.me View Post
Bumping.

I turned key to position 1 and insert a pin to lock the cylinder.
Now my question is do I turn the cylinder? Maybe pull it?
Mine doesnt want to come out.
There are probably better threads on how to remove the lock cylinder itself, but you should feel the pin go in past a resistance point. You may need to jiggle the pin as you do this. The pin has to be thin enough to fit into the tiny hole in the retaining tooth.
Once it hits home and pulls the cylinder retaining tooth in, the cylinder should pop straight out by itself or pull out with very little effort.
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i'd rather be gapless with no bulge

Last edited by cyberkaa; 09-11-2013 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyberkaa View Post
There are probably better threads on remove the lock cylinder itself, but you should feel the pin go in past a resistance point. You may need to jiggle the pin as you do this. The pin has to be thin enough to fit into the tiny hole in the retaining tooth.
Once it hits home and pulls the cylinder retaining tooth in, the cylinder should pop straight out by itself or pull out with very little effort.
Thank you. I was trying smallest hex bit I could find, and it was just a little too big.
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jM2.me View Post
Thank you. I was trying smallest hex bit I could find, and it was just a little too big.
Glad to be of help.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:46 PM   #16
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Nice DIY, always learning something from u
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:59 PM   #17
cyberkaa
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Quote:
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Nice DIY, always learning something from u
Thank you.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:05 AM   #18
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Hell yeah! Is the Key Lock gonna be that stiff. Mine is very stiff, not sure if I did it wrong. Regardless this just made my Push to Start that much closer!
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bishopgoldy View Post
Hell yeah! Is the Key Lock gonna be that stiff. Mine is very stiff, not sure if I did it wrong. Regardless this just made my Push to Start that much closer!
I didn't find it to be any stiffer than before the mod.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:36 AM   #20
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Re: DIY: How to Disable E46 Steering Lock (without cutting or drilling!)

Ok when I get some time ill go back in and lube it up. Again thanks. Great diys

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