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1997 BMW Z3 1.9 Spinning Ignition Switch / Key Problem, All E36

July 20, 2010

I have a 97 Z3 1.9 w/Auto and it has the, I understand, typical free spinning ignition switch problem. Has the ever been a repair article written that a do-it-yourselfer can follow. Dealers tell me the repair can range from $550 to $2100. Quite a large range for a somewhat common problem I thought. Do you have any recommendation?

Yes, the spinning ignition key is a not uncommon problem. Typically, the repair is a new lock cylinder assembly. In order to replace the assembly with a new one that uses the same key, you must order it through the BMW dealer.

Here’s a link to a DIY video on a similar vintage 3-series:

  1. tanner permalink

    What if your key gets stuck when you try to start your car, but spins the wrong direction freely? would you think it has a similar problem?

    • This is likely a similar issue ….. broken lock tumbler assembly. What model BMW or MINI do you have?

  2. frank permalink

    where can i get the peace between tumbler and ignition switch on 1992 325i e36 steering lock assembly?

  3. Dave permalink

    Hi, I have followed your instructions and I managed to get the barrel out on my Z3 with a bit of jiggling around. It had not broken completely, but I was getting the spinning ignition every now and then so thought I had better have a look at it on my terms, rather than risk it failing while I was on the road.

    I then drilled and added a screw to fix the problem as you suggested. Seems fine but only time will tell.

    Thanks guys.

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