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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-26-2012, 01:01 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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E46 BMW Ignition switch DIY

Symptoms of a bad ignition switch.
1. Turning the key and holding it on the on position without the car starting for a few seconds. ( the car will make no sound of any sort, until it starts ).
2. Sunroof will work on and off.
3. Headlights, fog lights and turn signals will not work. You also might get a rear tail light out warning lights on the dash sometimes and they go off when you flick the switch for fog lights on and off. This is also a problem with your ignition switch.
4. Side view mirrors won't work.
Finally if you have all of those symptoms it's definitely your ignition switch.

Tools needed:
Flat head screw driver
Philips head screw driver
Micro flat head screw driver ( you will need this to remove the actual ignition switch ).


Steps:.
1. Remove floor panel under the steering wheel that also goes around your peddles. There are two clips under the steering wheel itself you remove with a flat head screw driver. Then a plastic clip on the right side of the floor area and two screws across from that. You can't miss them.

2. Once you've removed this piece you'll have to remove the lower part of the steering column. There are two plastic round clips on the bottom. Press the two plastic clips in the center with the micro flathead screw driver and the column should pop right off.

3. Now you'll see a wire harness. Unplug the wire harness. There is a clip on the side you will want to pull towards the headlight switch direction. You can use a flat head screw driver for this.

4. Now look under where the ignition switch is. You'll see two micro screws w/ flathead ends mine were painted red but I've seen others were not so who knows. You want to unscrew this not completely but just lose enough to pull the ignition switch off. Plug the new ignition switch in and repeat steps backwards for re-install.
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Last edited by MalibuMafiaV; 01-26-2012 at 09:55 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2012, 02:46 PM
John@SAtlBMW John@SAtlBMW is offline
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parts list

here's the e46 ignition switch PN# 61326901961
also the grub screws are in the diagram should you loose one... (don't take them all the way out!)

http://parts.bmwofsouthatlanta.com/p...326901961.html
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  #3  
Old 01-26-2012, 04:26 PM
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smolck smolck is offline
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Allow me to say great job ob the DIY. And what a weird batch of symptoms......?
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  #4  
Old 01-26-2012, 04:31 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Allow me to say great job ob the DIY. And what a weird batch of symptoms......?
Thanks man. Lol yeah the symptoms are awesome. I will post that crappy video soon when I'm home.
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Audi S4 2000 Stage 3 - Dat turbo spool
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BMW 2006 M3 - stock - SOLD
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  #5  
Old 01-26-2012, 09:55 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Video is up.
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Audi S4 2000 Stage 3 - Dat turbo spool
BMW 2000 3-series - Supercharged Because race car SOLD
Maserati 2004 M128 GT - HREs/tint/straight piped SOLD
BMW 2006 M3 - stock - SOLD
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  #6  
Old 03-05-2012, 07:55 PM
LOUDLIQUID LOUDLIQUID is offline
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That was perfect well done. Great job but I tried that switch is good. Thanks tho
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  #7  
Old 03-06-2012, 07:40 AM
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GCoop GCoop is offline
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Thanks for the Video!
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  #8  
Old 05-12-2013, 04:41 PM
martin3197 martin3197 is offline
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Hey. I have a 330i 2001 and my car wont start. I turn the key and get nothing , no crank. So i pulled everything apart and ive noticed that when ever the green cable in my ignition switch has a current its when the car starts. Sometimes i turn the key really quick and it starts also. Anyway do you think it could the ignition switch or key ignition cylinder?
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  #9  
Old 06-26-2013, 07:21 AM
mazinxd mazinxd is offline
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I have a 2004 330Ci and yesterday I couldn't get mine started at all. I turned it on just like usual, drove it for abut 5-10mins, then I stopped and had to wait for about 5-10 so I turned the ignition off and listened to some music on the radio. Then when I tried to then it on at the first try It sort of cranked but just a little and died. Then i get nothing when I try to turn it on, just this sound that sort of sounds like...a button or something...a small click when turn it the key back to ON. I get nothing at all when I trying to ignite. At first I tought that it was the battery since I've been having battery problems but all the lights and radio and everything seem to work. Please help. thanx a lot
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  #10  
Old 06-26-2013, 03:29 PM
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ahull ahull is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazinxd View Post
I have a 2004 330Ci and yesterday I couldn't get mine started at all. I turned it on just like usual, drove it for abut 5-10mins, then I stopped and had to wait for about 5-10 so I turned the ignition off and listened to some music on the radio. Then when I tried to then it on at the first try It sort of cranked but just a little and died. Then i get nothing when I try to turn it on, just this sound that sort of sounds like...a button or something...a small click when turn it the key back to ON. I get nothing at all when I trying to ignite. At first I tought that it was the battery since I've been having battery problems but all the lights and radio and everything seem to work. Please help. thanx a lot
Sometimes if you hold the key in the start position for like 90 seconds it will eventually start. If this does work then it's your key cylinder for sure.
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  #11  
Old 06-26-2013, 03:49 PM
mazinxd mazinxd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahull View Post
Sometimes if you hold the key in the start position for like 90 seconds it will eventually start. If this does work then it's your key cylinder for sure.
hmm...I'll try it. I just hope its nothing expensive, not the time for any expensive repairs.
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  #12  
Old 06-26-2013, 10:46 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazinxd View Post
not the time for any expensive repairs.
Post again when it's time.
We like best to suggest the expensive solutions.
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  #13  
Old 07-01-2013, 10:31 PM
mazinxd mazinxd is offline
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Re: E46 BMW Ignition switch DIY

k so I just got it fixed now, it was the starter. Cost $370 for the part and labor together....
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  #14  
Old 08-17-2013, 02:58 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Just did this to my own car. Took me about 15-20 minutes. Was not hard at all. Hopefully this will fix a no start issue that I have been intermittently having and chasing around over the past few months.
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  #15  
Old 08-18-2013, 11:28 AM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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So you just replaced the starter in under 20 minutes?

I want you for my pit crew at Indianapolis.
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  #16  
Old 08-18-2013, 11:47 AM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
So you just replaced the starter in under 20 minutes?

I want you for my pit crew at Indianapolis.
Sorry for the misunderstanding, I replaced the ignition switch in under 20 minutes. When I did the starter it took me all afternoon.
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  #17  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:19 PM
Gaza77 Gaza77 is offline
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Is their a way to test the ignition switch with a voltmeter or some other test strategy?

Cheers,
William
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  #18  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:42 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Gaza77 View Post
Is their a way to test the ignition switch with a voltmeter or some other test strategy?

Cheers,
William
I never got around to actually testing it, but according to the wiring diagram inside the Bentley manual I think it was pin 8 that was related to triggering the starting circuit. I would try and locate a wiring diagram for the starting circuit and ignition switch and see if you can't figure out whats what. Then use a multimeter to test for continuity between whatever pins are relevant.
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  #19  
Old 10-02-2013, 07:20 PM
Gaza77 Gaza77 is offline
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Okay I'll try the multimeter and let you know if I have any luck. I already went ahead and ordered an ignition switch from www.oembimmerparts.com. I get 98% of my parts from there.

Cheers,
William
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  #20  
Old 10-02-2013, 07:43 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaza77 View Post
Okay I'll try the multimeter and let you know if I have any luck. I already went ahead and ordered an ignition switch from www.oembimmerparts.com. I get 98% of my parts from there.

Cheers,
William
Thats a very good place to buy parts. Honestly you're going to have to pull the ignition switch out to check it so I would go ahead and replace it with the new one. Test the old one just to see if you can find anything for the sake of science.
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  #21  
Old 10-14-2013, 09:54 PM
retronoodle retronoodle is offline
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That IS a strange set of symptoms. Is that from personal experience or is that documented somewhere? I have #1 and #3 - the part where you get the tail light out notification that goes away.
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  #22  
Old 05-12-2014, 06:03 PM
marlin1881 marlin1881 is offline
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Once you've done this, it really is a fast DIY project. I took my switch out and took it apart. Yes, there was one contact that was dirty, so I filed all of them for a fresh surface. After putting the switch back together, I put it "gently" in my bench vise and tested each of the 6 circuits for continuity. They tested perfectly, and the closed circuits went to 0 ohms. You can also use a large flathead screwdriver to test all switch positions and continuity changes in the 6 circuits. Just like using the ignition key...

I wished this would have fixed my starter problem, but no luck. I do trust the switch now, so I'm good to go after I replace the starter. My order is placed with Max at oembimmerparts.com, and I should have it here in a couple of days. Updates to follow...

Thanks to MalibuMafiaV for the detailed post and video.

Last edited by marlin1881; 05-12-2014 at 06:05 PM.
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  #23  
Old 05-12-2014, 08:05 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marlin1881 View Post
Once you've done this, it really is a fast DIY project. I took my switch out and took it apart. Yes, there was one contact that was dirty, so I filed all of them for a fresh surface. After putting the switch back together, I put it "gently" in my bench vise and tested each of the 6 circuits for continuity. They tested perfectly, and the closed circuits went to 0 ohms. You can also use a large flathead screwdriver to test all switch positions and continuity changes in the 6 circuits. Just like using the ignition key...

I wished this would have fixed my starter problem, but no luck. I do trust the switch now, so I'm good to go after I replace the starter. My order is placed with Max at oembimmerparts.com, and I should have it here in a couple of days. Updates to follow...

Thanks to MalibuMafiaV for the detailed post and video.
Glad you figured out your problem, but sorry to hear it was the starter. I'm not sure which method you are planning on replacing the starter. I have never done it myself, but I know a lot of people do it from the bottom. However, I feel like it might be easier to pull the air box, intake hoses, and throttle body out and that might allow you to get it out . If nothing else, I think that would give you much easier access to the bolts that hold it in without too much effort to take the intake related parts out.
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