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Engineering Overkill part 2: BMW door locks

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 2, 2006


What can be improved on typical car door locks? After all, all they have to do is lock and unlock the car, either with a key, lock button, or remote.

Let’s look at the E32 BMW door locks and see what they added. Remember, these cars first came out in 1988.


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  • The doors can be locked and deadlocked. When deadlocked, they will not open from inside. This prevents a thief from prying the window open enough to get a slim jim in and pull the lock knob. The lock knob and all rods internal to the door are physically prevented from moving. This also prevents anyone not familiar with the system from unlocking the door, even with the key, as unlocking a deadlocked door requires turning the key in the unlock direction, lifting the handle, then turning the key farther.
  • Heated door locks. If the temperature is below 38 F and you lift up on the outside door handle with the car locked, a heater in the lock energizes for 30 seconds to melt any ice from the lock.
  • Inertia switch. If the car undergoes a shock of approximately 5g’s, all doors automatically unlock, and the hazard lights turn on. This allows rescue teams to more easily locate a wrecked car and gain entry.
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7 Responses to “Engineering Overkill part 2: BMW door locks”

  1. Mindy said

    Heated door locks? Now that’s cool.

  2. Rob said

    The BMW “deadbolt” locking system was available prior to the E32 7-series, having appeared in the 1982-1988 E28 5-series.

    I remember a summer job I had back in 1985, and my well-to-do customer had a new 535i. After showing me the deadbolt, I could not get that extreme level of engineering out of my mind. Since 1995, I’ve driven nothing but BMWs and currently own four street cars, one racecar, and three motorcycles from that company.

  3. Walter Dirr said

    Hi, I have a 93 730i South African spec. The door locks on this car have ben dameged by a thief. i replaced both locks with one’s from a scrapyard. They lasted only a while and then the driver’s side (right side) lock packed up, so I used the left door to access the vehicle. This car does NOT have a remote to unlock the doors with and the key is normally used.

    The other day my brother did something in the car and then locked it. ever since then it refuses to unlock. He tried the emergency unlock procedure but it did not work. is it possible that this car unlocks in a different way, since it has no remote?Will this car have an accident sensing feature? Maybe I can hit the car at the right place underneath and make it think it’s in an accident… The car has no airbags.

  4. […] uses metal on all those items… probably why the darn things just don't quit. Deadbolt system: http://ifitsgotanengine.wordpress.co…mw-door-locks/ I never knew about that system before… apparently the e30 should have it too. From what I can […]

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