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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-07-2013, 05:05 PM
bmwman47 bmwman47 is offline
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Locked out of 1998 528 with dead battery

My son left his 1998 528 stand several days
with a dead battery. Tonight we could not even open the doors or trunk. Any ideas what we should do besides calling a locksmith.?
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2013, 05:33 PM
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Ltmax Ltmax is offline
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I take it the door lock is broken so you can't use the key to manually open the door?

If so you may come out ahead spending the money to get a locksmith as it will be cheaper than the damage you may cause trying to break into the car.

Or just accept that it's going to cost you $30 for a new front grille and if that's OK with you, just pull out the front grille, release the hood latch and hook up some jumper cables to the battery jumper connections in the engine compartment so your keyless entry will work again. There are several posts here that explain the procedure if that's the route you choose.

Good luck.

Last edited by Ltmax; 02-07-2013 at 05:38 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2013, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ltmax View Post
I take it the door lock is broken so you can't use the key to manually open the door?
As Ltmax said above, the key opens the doors and trunk, just like in the olden days, so a dead battery shouldn't cause any problem whatsoever in getting into the car.

That is, unless you locked your only keys INSIDE the car with the dead battery.

To solve that problem, simply typing /locked F3 in the bestlinks nets these threads:
- How to open the hood (1) or trunk manually when you have a dead 12v car battery (1) (2) (3) & how to unlock the older E39 if the key is locked inside the trunk (1) (2)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 02-07-2013 at 08:49 PM.
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  #4  
Old 02-08-2013, 01:00 AM
Chris.moore12 Chris.moore12 is offline
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Having left the fridge on Over night whilst on holiday in switzerland I managed to jack up the front of the car and get a 12volt connection from another car to the supply side of the. Starter motor.

Good luck
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  #5  
Old 02-08-2013, 04:14 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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The fridge?


If your key wont open the trunk its because you arent twisting hard enough. The key hole doesnt get used much so its stiff. Mine has to turn until right before i swear the key is going to snap and then it opens.
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  #6  
Old 02-08-2013, 05:45 AM
stephen bruke stephen bruke is offline
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locksmith is your only option. im betting the car is not responding to the remote nor the key right? so once a locksmith opens the door then you open you hood and charge the battery. p.s for better result charge the actual battery in the passenger side of the trunk.

let me know how is ends up.
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2013, 05:52 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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why is a locksmith the only option when the car has two perfectly good key holes? did the o.p. ever say he didnt have a key to the car? if he has no key he is screwed either way.

this is a common thread where people cant get the locks to work because they dont realize how hard you have to turn the key due to it never being used.
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2013, 05:59 AM
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I like the idea of applying power to the supply side of the starter, I'll have to try that next time, it would be soo much easier than fighting to get the hood open. Thanks for the good tip!

Last edited by Ltmax; 02-08-2013 at 06:01 AM.
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  #9  
Old 02-08-2013, 08:31 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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I still don't get it...if you have a key...you can open the trunk or the door manually. The probability of both the trunk AND the door not opening manually is rare. If you can open either one...then there's no need to jack up the car. If you can open the door manually, then you can also open the hood once the door is open and apply cables to the jump start location in the hood which will give you enough power to electrically open the trunk and other doors.

If the driver's door can't be opened manually after inserting the key and turning (or lubricating the lock cylinder if it is seized from non use)...then the trunk can be manually opened and jumper cables applied to the battery...which will supply enough power to use the remote key to unlock the car doors.


(driver's door w/key turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise to the MANUAL UNLOCK position)




(electronic actuation @ 45 degrees...manual actuation @ 90 degrees)





If your door and trunk lock cylinder do NOT turn 90 degrees right/left...then for GAWD sake...take the time to lubricate them so that they work properly!! A can of lubricant with a "straw"...insert the straw into the lock cylinder and a couple of squirts should do the job.


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99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 02-08-2013 at 08:40 AM.
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  #10  
Old 02-08-2013, 08:38 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+,

Follow QSilver instructions.

However, if that fails...This is a little known secret, on the driver's side chassis, if you crawl from underneath looking upward, there is a Positive Post that feeds the Starter Motor.

In desperate situation, one can apply some voltage to open doors by using appropriate alligator clips wire:
- One clip goes to this Positive Post.
- Another Clip goes to Transmission Housing or any ground
(Just make sure you don't short the wires).
- Then connect both wires to a donor car's battery (any car with 12V battery).
- Lift the LF wheel up and rest in on some wood ramps.
Or you can use jackstand.
- Crawl underneath, you will see the red post, where the wire feeding the starter motor comes from.

Now you can use your key remote to open the door.



Last edited by cn90; 02-08-2013 at 08:40 AM.
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2013, 08:54 AM
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We're all trying to help - but the OP hasn't said why the key doesn't open the two front doors and the trunk. I'm gonna now wait for that information ...
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2013, 06:22 PM
IkeRay IkeRay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
If your door and trunk lock cylinder do NOT turn 90 degrees right/left...then for GAWD sake...take the time to lubricate them so that they work properly!! A can of lubricant with a "straw"...insert the straw into the lock cylinder and a couple of squirts should do the job.
When I disconnected the battery to try to erase some codes, turning the key 90* wouldn't unlock my car. It wasn't that the key didn't turn 90*, it was the the solenoids (door and trunk) were shot, for whatever reason. I could feel where they were supposed to unlock, but it wasn't working.

I had to do the starter power terminal trick to apply 12v and use my remote.
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2013, 06:48 PM
occhis occhis is offline
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What they are trying to tell you is that no electricity is needed to unlock with the key manually. With the key in the door lock, turn the key counter clockwise. You will encounter some resistance but keep turning (about 90 degrees) and that manual action will push the lock button on the door up, thereby allowing you to open the door.
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  #14  
Old 02-09-2013, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
...It wasn't that the key didn't turn 90*, it was the the solenoids (door and trunk) were shot, for whatever reason. I could feel where they were supposed to unlock...
Regardless if your "solenoids are shot"...the driver's door, trunk (on the sedans) and fuel filler door...ALL can be opened MANUALLY. As previously stated...some lock cylinders may be resistant due to grime, dust, dirt, and non-use...but they were still designed to be opened manually and may require some lubrication and further effort. The "detent" where you can "feel" where the doors electrically unlock is not the MANUAL unlock position. When you get to the manual unlock position...you can actually feel & see the door lock pin rise up as you turn the key in the cylinder...likewise when you manually lock the door...you are manually turning the cylinder & bownden cable to where the door physically is being locked.

It is similar to those who think they can't open their garage door opener in a residential power outage...when actually they can. All it takes is pulling the release cord to the point it separates the pulley from the door which allows the door to be pulled up & opened the old fashioned way. The door's lock, trunk's lock, and fuel filler flap can all be manually locked/unlocked by turning the key far enough clockwise or counter clockwise to manually lock/unlock the door...or by pulling the manual fuel filler door release cord (which manually pulls back on the bowden cable and pin that secures the fuel filler door).


(note the bold and italicized text in the 2nd bullet in the 1st image below...and the 45 electrically actuated position and the 90 manually actuated position in the 2nd & 3rd images below)

************************************************** ****
************************************************** ****
_

Also, the bowden cable (#11 in the diagram below) can also be seen in the illustration above (note the "hooks" on the end of the bowden cable) that is attached to the lock cylinder that MANUALLY locks/unlocks the door when the cylinder is turned 90 clockwise/counter-clockwise


If anyone's lock cylinders (door & trunk) won't turn 90 to the manual lock/unlock positions...I highly suggest some annual preventative maintenance by spraying some graphite or other suitable lubricant into the lock cylinders, insert the key blade, turn the cylinders to work the lubricant in and test that the lock cylinder can be turned to the manual position...remove the key and wipe off any excess lubricant so that you don't stain your clothing if you carry your keys in your pants pocket.
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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 02-09-2013 at 02:02 PM.
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  #15  
Old 02-10-2013, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
We're all trying to help - but the OP hasn't said why the key doesn't open the two front doors and the trunk. I'm gonna now wait for that information ...
Based on the OP's track record for replies, I do not think that information will be posted anytime soon.........
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:11 PM
IkeRay IkeRay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
Regardless if your "solenoids are shot"...the driver's door, trunk (on the sedans) and fuel filler door...ALL can be opened MANUALLY. As previously stated...some lock cylinders may be resistant due to grime, dust, dirt, and non-use...but they were still designed to be opened manually and may require some lubrication and further effort. The "detent" where you can "feel" where the doors electrically unlock is not the MANUAL unlock position. When you get to the manual unlock position...you can actually feel & see the door lock pin rise up as you turn the key in the cylinder
I get that it was SUPPOSED to work that way, but I had the key at horizontal, and it wasn't unlocking anything. the trunk I could feel it where it was supposed to unlock (about 5* above horizontal, not 45*), on the driver's door it was more faint (about the same angle). I could turn it to lock. I could turn the key a full 180*, and the lock side definitely worked, but I couldn't get it to unlock. Shot or stripped mechanism, I don't know, but I can tell you, had I turned the key any further, I definitely would've broken something (I twisted(bent) the key slightly as it is).
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:29 PM
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Believe it or not all the door locks are by wire. The trunk however is a manual lock, for reasons like this
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:52 PM
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Halfway down the thread I thought -- where's Q with his diagrams? And then bang! ;-)

My guess is the OP had the key, opened the door, and was angry at his son for making him ask an embarrassing question on the forum. We'll never hear from him again. Too bad, since we've all asked dumb questions before, nothing to be ashamed of.

Funny how some owners can't grasp manual operation. I often lock my car manually, to avoid the security system drawing power if the car will sit for a few days.
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Last edited by Edgy36-39; 02-11-2013 at 02:53 PM.
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  #19  
Old 02-11-2013, 03:25 PM
Chris.moore12 Chris.moore12 is offline
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To answer the earlier question, this was just a plug in fridge, unfortunatley not European variant feature. And I've learnt something having had 5 series beamers solidly since 1996 I've never known the boot opened manually by turning anti clockwise.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:02 AM
OnceWingless OnceWingless is offline
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Gentleman, I hope someone can help me out.

I have a 1999 540i Touring (or sports wagon as you call it), with only a driver side lock. So no lock on the trunk, unfortunately...

Battery is dead, couldn't open the door. Searched the internet and stumbled upon this thread on how to open my car.

Initial findings: 90 deg clockwise (lock) I can turn the key. Counterclockwise 45 deg, and no way past that. Even after lubricating the lock very well with WD40 with a straw... (Yeah we got that stuff over here as well).

After further research I found this thread on this board: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=498390

And that's probably my problem as well. Last winter the interior door handle broke off. I replaced it myself (found a DIY on YouTube). And most probably the cable connecting to the interior door handle is misplaced. According to the above posting, that's why I can't turn the key 90 deg counterclockwise and unlock.

The big question: how do I get into my car without smashing a window??? Does the 540 have a connection under the car just like the 6-cyl??? Can't find it anywhere online...Car is parked curbside at the driverside, so getting under the car to have a look on that side is kinda hard...
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  #21  
Old 04-09-2013, 07:39 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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For the 540 touring, the starter motor is near the back at the flywheel.

Safety first:
- Jack the front wheel and set a jackstand underneath, or place wood ramp under the tire.
- Crawl underneath, you will see the RED cable feeding the starter motor.
- Then jump the cables to provide 12V to the car.
- Then open the car with remote.
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  #22  
Old 04-09-2013, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
- Then jump the cables to provide 12V to the car.
- Then open the car with remote.
What he said.

But, that's not why I posted.

Since your problem appears to be mechanical, it would be nice if you can snap a photo of the either the diagnostics, or of the solution, for others to benefit from, who are in the same situation as you.

That's your way of paying it forward.

EDIT:
See also:
- What to do if your only key is locked inside your bimmer (1) & what to do if you lost your only diamond key (1) or what to do if your BMW key was stolen (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 04-09-2013 at 08:28 AM.
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  #23  
Old 04-09-2013, 06:40 PM
occhis occhis is offline
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What I want to know is what happened to the OP? If you're going to ask a question, please have the courtesy to keep those who tried to help up to date.
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