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Discussion Starter #1
Hey there, new guy here from the cold as hell northeastern part of Nevada in the USA.

As the title states, my door locks in my 89 535i are impossible to physically lock or unlock. I just got this car and I am new to BMW's in general, but I have done some reading about the central locking system that these cars have but no one seems to be having the same issue. It doesn't matter if I attempt to lock the driver or passenger door (or trunk) with the key, nothing happens. If I manually try to push down the locks, they will not budge. I honestly don't even know where to start, as I don't see a fuse or anything for the system.

Also, on an unrelated note: the dash is constantly saying some of my lights are out when they clearly are working just fine (I have read that this has to do with the CCM being bad) and the car keeps randomly throwing the dreaded Trans Program message but does not seem to go into limp mode as I can still manually shift and I can feel the car shifting through the gears as I drive. The only thing I have noticed is when that message pops up, the little "E" or "S" next to the gear indicator goes away. Someone definitely spilled some soda or something in the area where the gear shift is located (the Auto/Manual switch is stuck and won't even move), so I should probably clean all of that out. Also, the driver's window will not roll up using the switch unless I manually switch the polls on the back of the switch and use the "down" position to roll the window up. I have tried two master switches and got the same result.

Some details on the car:
1989 BMW 535i Sedan
4 Speed Automatic
278xxx Miles (Wow. I know.)
I paid $700 for it.

Runs okay, has some sort of slight misfire and definitely needs a tune-up, the transmission needs the fluid and filter changed and so does the differential. It sounds like crap when starting so I am thinking the starter may be going. Inside is pretty trashed, but the dash and upper door panels cleaned up nicely. Lower door panels and seats definitely need to be reupholstered or replaced. Overall I really like the car. It is definitely a new experience for me (I know how to work on cars, and I have had to do all the work myself on previous cars but this is going to be a whole new adventure for me). The fan doesn't wiggle, I don't smell coolant inside from the heater, no rear end noise. It does have an exhaust leak and a pretty bad lifter tick. The exterior of the car is okay, it's got some dents and all that but most things are intact. I think its the perfect candidate for a "Ballin on a budget" sort of build.

Thanks and I look forward to my time here and I am glad to meet everyone here on Bimmerfest.com.
 

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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The locking system is one of the many issues the e34 tends to have. What you indicated seems to be the door lock actuators have taken a crap. Not uncommon, just annoying. The repair will require the removal of the door cards and the actuator which is mounted inside the door. Mind you there are two ways to do the repair. One is to repair the actuators themselves. Or just replace them. IMO replacement is the way to go.

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The locking system is one of the many issues the e34 tends to have. What you indicated seems to be the door lock actuators have taken a crap. Not uncommon, just annoying. The repair will require the removal of the door cards and the actuator which is mounted inside the door. Mind you there are two ways to do the repair. One is to repair the actuators themselves. Or just replace them. IMO replacement is the way to go.

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That is what I was trying to avoid. I do need to be able to lock my car, especially where I live. I will look into some new actuators and report back on how that goes. Do I need to replace all of them, including the trunk? I cannot lock the trunk even with the key.

EDIT: Also, what are the chances of ALL of the actuators going bad? And why can't I just manually lock the thing? Can I remove the actuators and manually lock and unlock the doors so I don't need to pay $130 a piece for a new actuator?
 

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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Sorry, just read your post again to try and get more detailed. The key. Are you able to lock the car with the key? ( turning the key in the door) If you can not lock with the key manually then it's the key or something is jamming up the key cylinder in the door. If you are using the a remote fob then it's the fob or the transponder in the car (which is usually under the rear bench)
The actuators only deal with the initial activation response from the key or the fob.

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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Now let's say it's the actuators. Do they all go out at the same time. Very possible. Usually they go out one by one. But now that I read your post again. I doubt it's the actuators especially the trunk one because you should be able to turn the key and they lock or at least the trunk and gas door will. No don't pay 130 for them. Look online if not there are a few guys parting these cars out. As long as you know the year of the car you should be able to get the correct ones. Because they are different pretty 93 than the later models.

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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If they don't budge using the remote or after turning the key then it could be the actuators, the transponder or both. Imo to test this remove the driver's door panel. And remove the actuator then try and lock it manually. If you can lock it then the actuators could be frozen or the arm is broken.

But as you stated correctly there is no one similar case. Thus I'm trying to give you the best ways to go about it. Worst case scenerio. Remove all the actuators and lock the car manually till you can diagnose it further.

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Discussion Starter #8
If they don't budge using the remote or after turning the key then it could be the actuators, the transponder or both. Imo to test this remove the driver's door panel. And remove the actuator then try and lock it manually. If you can lock it then the actuators could be frozen or the arm is broken.

But as you stated correctly there is no one similar case. Thus I'm trying to give you the best ways to go about it. Worst case scenerio. Remove all the actuators and lock the car manually till you can diagnose it further.

Sent from my SM-S902L using Bimmerfest mobile app
I can turn the cylinder with the key in both front doors and the trunk but it doesn't actually do anything. And it is particularly hard to turn the passenger door lock as well as the trunk one because the trunk one only turns to the left for me. It does not lock or unlock the doors though. This is an 89 with no keyless entry so you are saying that if it came down to it, I can physically remove the actuators and be able to manually lock the door with the key and/or my hand? What about the trunk?
 

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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I can turn the cylinder with the key in both front doors and the trunk but it doesn't actually do anything. And it is particularly hard to turn the passenger door lock as well as the trunk one because the trunk one only turns to the left for me. It does not lock or unlock the doors though. This is an 89 with no keyless entry so you are saying that if it came down to it, I can physically remove the actuators and be able to manually lock the door with the key and/or my hand? What about the trunk?
So what you're saying is that you can turn the key in the door and it doesn't lock?
Time check the fuses and remove the door cards to see whats going on.
Regardless if you have a fob, lock actuators, or not you should be able to lock and unlock the doors manually with the key if not the door in which the key is in.
Sight unseen, it sounds like the little bars which connects to the key cylinders and the lock mechanism is broken or off the hooks.
That is an easy DIY fix.

If you follow this DIY (the pics are gone PHOTOBUCKET SUCKS) DIY How to swap a door handle in a million easy steps
It will detail how to break the locking system down and find the culprit.

The pictures are out there (even a youtube video) its google moment with that.

Good luck and report back. :thumbup:

Yeah I saw you have a 535. My favorite car out of all 7 BMWs I've owned and currently daily.
Simple to maintain, decent acceleration, easiest to boost, and LSD for winter fun.
Once you get it sorted out. Drop a 5spd manual in it. That's when the real fun begins.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So what you're saying is that you can turn the key in the door and it doesn't lock?
Time check the fuses and remove the door cards to see whats going on.
Regardless if you have a fob, lock actuators, or not you should be able to lock and unlock the doors manually with the key if not the door in which the key is in.
Sight unseen, it sounds like the little bars which connects to the key cylinders and the lock mechanism is broken or off the hooks.
That is an easy DIY fix.

If you follow this DIY (the pics are gone PHOTOBUCKET SUCKS) DIY How to swap a door handle in a million easy steps
It will detail how to break the locking system down and find the culprit.

The pictures are out there (even a youtube video) its google moment with that.

Good luck and report back. :thumbup:

Yeah I saw you have a 535. My favorite car out of all 7 BMWs I've owned and currently daily.
Simple to maintain, decent acceleration, easiest to boost, and LSD for winter fun.
Once you get it sorted out. Drop a 5spd manual in it. That's when the real fun begins.
Which fuse? Looking at the fuse panel under the hood near the drivers side strut tower doesn't seem to have a fuse for the locks even listed.

And the car really just needs some work. It misfires a LOT when first started cold, it shakes the car. Then when it warms up it subsides a little. Transmission shifts pretty hard sometimes, definitely not like it should, might be slipping a little, especially from 1st to 2nd. It also sometimes doesn't like to downshift when I get on the throttle. I do get the Trans Program message but it doesn't put the trans in limp mode, I still have all my gears. Then it will go away. Has some front end noise, ball joints maybe?

Did all 535s come with the LSD? Because I am thinking mine is more of a base model (no wood at all, steering wheel is not adjustable, etc.
 

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I'm from NJ. So What!?!
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Update:

Transmission is definitely slipping. I have fixed the window issue with a new window switch and also got myself a new CCM. Took one of the door cards off and it seems like the rear actuators are stuck because I can now sometimes get the drivers door to lock. I can also do the roll up windows function with the key in the door but no luck locking it. I can lock the trunk manually now though, it was just stuck.
 

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Transmission slipping is generally bad news, but new fluid and filter is worth a try. Cold weather can make the lock actuators balky because lubricants stiffen up. I'd spray all the locking mechanisms and latches liberally with silicone lube and work them a bit to see if you can free them up.

Also, BMWs of the '80s are prone to have faulty brake light switches that can throw a "brake lights" light. New switches are cheap.

M30 engines require periodic valve adjustments -- bet yours hasn't had one in quite some time. While you have the valve cover off, check the bolt on the oil sprayer tube (it sits on top of the valve train) to make sure it's tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Transmission slipping is generally bad news, but new fluid and filter is worth a try. Cold weather can make the lock actuators balky because lubricants stiffen up. I'd spray all the locking mechanisms and latches liberally with silicone lube and work them a bit to see if you can free them up.

Also, BMWs of the '80s are prone to have faulty brake light switches that can throw a "brake lights" light. New switches are cheap.

M30 engines require periodic valve adjustments -- bet yours hasn't had one in quite some time. While you have the valve cover off, check the bolt on the oil sprayer tube (it sits on top of the valve train) to make sure it's tight.
We found out that the noise is an injector that is going out. And I am sure the tranny is just going out but I hope it lasts me a few more months as this is my only car at the moment. I changed the CCM and I have not got any more brake light codes. My reverse lights do not work however, but I believe it has to do with the loom on the trunk hinge because one of my license plate lights only functions when the trunk lid is open.
 

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You jack up the rear of the car. You then push one rear tire in one direction, you have another person push the other the rear tire in the opposite direction. If the diff allows this to happen then you have an open diff. If the tires will not turn in opposite directions then you have an lsd diff.

Go luck


Andy
 

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You jack up the rear of the car. You then push one rear tire in one direction, you have another person push the other the rear tire in the opposite direction. If the diff allows this to happen then you have an open diff. If the tires will not turn in opposite directions then you have an lsd diff.

Go luck

Andy
Better than a VIN lookup! Especially on a 20+yo car that could have modified a dozen times.

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