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E36General discussion and technical help for (E36) 1992-1999 3 series cars. 318, 323, 325, 328.
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Your Ride: 95 325I
95 E36 Ign. Switch/ Lock Cylinder - Keys?
My friend's 325i has had battery drain problems. In looking into it (my first time working on a BMW...I'm a weekend, admittedly mostly American Car basic mechanic), I noticed the lock cylinder was going, as it twisted past the off position.
While starting the process of chasing down the drain (I didn't get far, just charged up the battery, cleaned cables, etc) I went to start the car and the key just spun to the right.
So, I must replace, as miniumum, the lock cylinder, which, in looking at the manual and some web sites, seems to be within my range of skills. However, questions before I did into it:
1. This has the security system. If I buy a lock cylinder, with new key, how do I get the key matched to the car?
2. Should I automatically replace the igniition switch as well while I"m in there?
I have purchased a number of keys through the years, always from the dealer, and the only time I recall anyone had to bring the new key to the car to code it to the car was the master key for my e46. For the e36s, I give them the VIN and they generate the key with a pattern and code already set for the car.
Good luck getting the old lock cylinder out with a stiff wire in the release hole. New ones come right out, but old ones won't budge. Most likely you will have to take a dremmel tool and cut slots in the security bolts and replace the lock and the housing.
There are instructions for repairing broken lock cylinders on one of the BMW Forums that were posted a few months ago, but the lock itself is most likely pretty worn, so I am not convinced that reparing the stop pin that has failed is a good long term solution.
I probably have the receipts in the file, but it would take a lot of rummaging to find them. As I recall, it was over $100 for the cylinder and over $100 for the housing, and about $80 for a new key.
I was annoyed because they charged me over $100 for a simple aluminum casting and they did not bother to tap the threads in the bolt hole where the screw attaches the wiring harness to the housing. I already had it almost completely back together when I noticed that there were no threads in that hole. Of course, I did not have the correct size tap, and I was not going to dismantle it and return the part to the dealer, so I had to attach the wiring harness to the housing with a zip tie.
When you take it apart, disconnect the battery for several minutes before touching the air bag.
Take note of the location and orientation of the two spacer rings. If you put them back wrong, the steering wheel will rub.
You need a dremel tool and a cutting wheel to cut slots in the security bolts. Then you need a very short straight blade screwdriver bit and a wrench to turn it to loosen those bolts. If you have an old ratcheting box end wrench from the olden days when GM car batteries had side terminals, that wrench will fit a screwdriver bit.
Grease the upper steering column bearing when you are transferring it from the old housing to the new housing.
A short piece of 3/4" PVC sprinkler pipe under the steering wheel bolt is the best way to press the snap ring back into its groove.
Don't connect the battery until after the air bag is back in place.