Repair of Ignition lock on BMW 325i Automatic E30 1990 model

The following notes are to help with the repair of a BMW 325i E30 model where the doorlock and the ignition lock have been forced by a vandal with a sharp instrument like a screwdriver. This is a classic car which is fitted with a steering lock which needs a working ignition lock to disengage the steering lock to move the vehicle.

We had the vehicle towed to its garage for repair using a flat bed vehicle.

The ignition lock is made of metal of different hardness so that when forced they will crush and prevent the lock from operating. Unfortunately this crushing destroys parts of the lock and it is necessary to replace the entire lock. The lock is so designed that it cannot be removed simply once it has been crushed and this note describes a process that we implemented to remove the lock.

The procedure for removing a lock that is not badly damaged and where the key is present and still works can be found at

If that does not work then follow the procedure below.

The lock is made to resist attacks as it is a key element in retracting the steering lock. The steering lock operates by inserting a bolt into a toothed rim in the steering wheel which cannot be accessed until the lock is released.

The lock has a mechanical structure to allow turning once the key is inserted. This turning action rotates a shaft that is connected to the electrical switch element that is on the far side of the lock. The lock must not be over-rotated or it will break the electrical switch.

The parts of the lock are

  • Steel outer ring holding structure together (Black)
  • Stainless steel key guide
  • Tumbler section containing slides that are keyed to the ignition key
  • Casing of the key structure
  • Housing that is part of the moulding around the steering column

    To break the black steel outer casing, use a dremel grinder fitted with a cutting disc and cut though the steel outer ring. Break the ring to remove the ring. The key guide can be removed.

    Using a screw driver break out the damaged layers of the tumbler. There is a soft guide part and a hard slide part. You need to repeat the process until you can remove the rest of the tumbler from the casing.

    You are now left with the lock casing that is held into the housing. It has a spring loaded bolt that is locked into a slot in the housing. The bolt is about 1 centimeter into the lock and is at approx 210 degrees clockwise from the vertical.

    Use a thin screwdriver and lift the one side of the bolt as shown in the photograph. It is spring loaded and when you lift the bolt the case will slide out of the housing easily.

    The slot in the housing is clearly visible at the 190 degree clockwise angle.

    A replacement lock assembly can be bought via a BMW parts dealer. Part number is Steering lock 32 32 1 158 663

    Also look on Youtube for some videos such as
    BMW Key Problem (Spinning Ignition) - MillerTimeBMW - DIY 5 - shows the bobby pin used for retracting the pawl
    and search for others using e30 ignition barrel removal

    Good luck - This was written to remind me what to do next time someone tries to steal my car.

    7th November 2016