Key won't unlock door - can't get in
2003 325i - key remote hasn't worked in long time so I've been using the actual key to unlock and lock door. Yesterday the key also stopped working. The barrel just moves freely from left to right and the door lock doesn't pop up. Any ideas of firstly, how to get into the car without a tow to the dealers and secondly, what could be wrong with the lock? Thanks
With any luck through the trunk. That keyset has a plastic roll pin in the lock assembly. It is designed to break in the event someone tries to force it. Unfortunately the plastic gets old and breaks when you use it too much even with the key. Try replacing the battery in your remote and see if you can get it to open that way. Regardless its going to need a new lockset in the door.
I presume that you don't have fold-down rear seats or you would not be asking how to get in. This is not an easy car to get into without damage.
My suspect is that the plastic lock in the top of the metal rod that runs from the key down to the lock has failed, and the rod has popped out. I have worn out a couple of those on e36 trunk locks, and broken one while doing other work on a door. It will be fairly easy to replace, once you get the door open.......
Be sure to disconnect the battery before pulling off the door panel, you don't want to loose a finger in the window mechanism, or have the air bag pop when you unplug it. DO NOT turn on the key while the air bag is unplugged or you will set a code that only a dealer or well-equipped shop can clear.
I am fairly handy with a slim Jim but I doubt I could open one of these doors. Open the trunk and disconnect the battery before you start, or the locking system will probably try to fight the slim Jim and will keep trying to relock itself before he can pull the door open. Perhaps the guy on the tow truck is better than I am with a slim Jim and all you will have to pay for is his trip to your house.
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