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Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

BMW forum 3 series car: E21, E30, E36, E46, E90, E91, E92, E93, F30, F31, F34, F35

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Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby Tom775257 » Wed, 26 Aug 2009 16:31:09 UTC

Hello all,

Basically since I have owned the car (2005 E90 320d) occasionally I would get the yellow steering wheel lock warning light when I come to try and start the car, of which taking the key fob out and moving the wheel a bit clears it. 2 times I had the red warning, and it took a lot of playing around to get the wheel unlocked. After the red warning I took it to the BMW dealer to get it checked out, who said there was no problem with the car...

Now within the last two weeks the yellow steering lock light comes on about every 4 times I try to start the car, today also the warning light came on when I turned the car off!

Any thoughts or back to the garage, the same one's who said it was fine last time after getting the red warnings? Just got it back a month ago after the ventilation fan packed up. My old Peugeot 306 was rock solid reliable compared to this BMW!

BTW the car has BMW extended guarantee covering everything.

Cheers, Tom.
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby Peter » Wed, 26 Aug 2009 17:04:07 UTC

Tom775257 wrote: My old Peugeot 306 was rock solid reliable compared to this BMW!

BTW the car has BMW extended guarantee covering everything.


I think Adrian (agh!) has issues with his steering lock and had to have new parts. I'm sure he'll pick up this topic. Obviously faulty, just get the garage to sort it.

As to the 306 being "rock solid reliable", you got the good one did you. :lol:

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Postby Tom775257 » Wed, 26 Aug 2009 17:14:01 UTC

My 306 (1.9TD) was a legend! I had the fueling and turbo pressure increased and it was nice to drive. I gave the car to my brother at about 120,000 miles when I moved to Malta. It continued up to about 150,000 after one cambelt change at 50,000 miles! From 120 to 150k not one service, and with the original clutch intact and fine. Scrapped on the government scheme for him to get a :banned: Astra! :x

On a tangent that engine was awesome, the only problem was with a few dodgy con rods which killed a few engines. Apart from that they were ace. Easy to take apart and work on. The electrics even held up on my car!
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Postby pursang » Wed, 26 Aug 2009 17:39:15 UTC

Book it into the BMW garage!

I've been told there is a software fix for this!
However as Peter mentions AGH! had to have his totally changed........It was under BMW warranty thankfully.

I've seen the YELLOW lock once on mine (E90 2005) however I tend to wiggle the wheel as I insert the key fob it seem to help :shock:
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Postby Sonora » Sat, 29 Aug 2009 18:53:32 UTC

I agree with pursang. The light will eventually turn red permanently and then you will not be able to start it. This happened to me with my 2005 E90.
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Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby Swc_UK » Sun, 27 Mar 2011 17:01:29 UTC

Old topic, I know but...

My steering lock warning came on red today after a one hour drive, when I went to turn the engine off. It's been red ever since. However, the wheel locks and unlocks like normal and I can start the car and drive it without any problems. Odd...

Anyone else seen that (red warning but otherwise ok)?
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby neilni » Sun, 03 Apr 2011 22:03:48 UTC

Swc_UK wrote:Old topic, I know but...

My steering lock warning came on red today after a one hour drive, when I went to turn the engine off. It's been red ever since. However, the wheel locks and unlocks like normal and I can start the car and drive it without any problems. Odd...

Anyone else seen that (red warning but otherwise ok)?


I had this fault on mine recently - was out of warranty so got an indy to hook it up to the diag laptop - cleared it down in 10 mins - was a fault held in the memory (possibly due to low battery on that occasion). He said that model is prone to a faulty steering lock but when that happens, its likely the car wont start at all - likely yours has the same fault as mine and can hopefully be cleared down with a software fix

If its under warranty, take it to BMW and get them to check it and clear it or an indy should be able to sort it if out of warranty

Hope this helps

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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby Swc_UK » Sun, 03 Apr 2011 22:58:57 UTC

One dealer charged me £40 to tell me what I already knew - the steering lock registered a problem. I had to pay up to get my keys back, but I was furious. Another dealer, who I had used in the past, and who I should have stuck with, diagnosed a faulty steering lock and it will be replaced under extended warranty.

As an aside, I'm looking for a good OBD II tool to check and reset warnings. Was looking at one of these: http://www.amazon.co.uk/CAN-Bus-Trouble ... 828&sr=1-1
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby BlueScouse » Wed, 20 Apr 2011 16:46:12 UTC

My steering lock sign (on a 2007 320D) has been displayed in red for about three days now, so I rang a couple of independents in Liverpool.
Autotech told me it would cost a minimum of £100 - and that was if it was only the CARS (?) system needed re-setting. The next cheapest was a steering lock replacement and the most expensive would be a steering column replacement.
Field Lane BMW said they would need to do a quick diagmostic check before thye could tell me anything further.
Having read a few dodgy reviews on Autotech and a few good reviews of Field Lane, I have decided to take the car to Field Lane on Tuesday morning, as the car is driving fine and the steering lock seems to be OK.
Any comments?
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby agh » Wed, 20 Apr 2011 16:53:48 UTC

Could be false alarm, the retraction of the lock not being detected properly. Normally leads to car refusing to start as it thinks steering lock is still engaged.
My experience on this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=54038&p=440209&hilit=e91+steering+lock#p440209
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby BlueScouse » Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:47:12 UTC

agh! wrote:Could be false alarm, the retraction of the lock not being detected properly. Normally leads to car refusing to start as it thinks steering lock is still engaged.
My experience on this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=54038&p=440209&hilit=e91+steering+lock#p440209


Thanks, Adrian.

Very useful information on there. Steering locks on the E90s do seem to be problematic, as both the guys I spoke to today at the indies gave me the impression that they'd seen the fault many times before.

Will update on Tuesday when I have had the diagnosis.
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby agh » Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:51:20 UTC

Apparently a "design flaw" rectified with cars build November 2005 onwards. More than just the E90 family affected.
Some report software update resolves the issue.
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby BlueScouse » Wed, 27 Apr 2011 14:51:50 UTC

Took my E90 (57 reg 320D) to Field Lane BMW in Liverpool yesterday and after spending between 2 and 3 hours running diagnostics, they have confirmed that there is nothing wrong with the steering lock so they have cleared down the red warning light and 24 hours later, everything still seems to be OK!
Had no idea what they would charge but they asked for £50 + VAT, which seems reasonable given the amount of time they spent on it - and comes as a great relief when compared with the £800+ I might have had to cough up, or even the £100 diagnostic charge that Autotech in Liverpool were going to charge me.
So.. my advice would be: Find an independent you can trust and let them get on with it!
For anyone in the Merseyside/West Lancs area I would recommend Field Lane for knowledge and fairness - dead easy to find as well, as it's less than a mile from the M57/M58/A59 junction at Switch Island..
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Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby etronic » Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:24:45 UTC

It is a known problem not only on E90 but E60 aswell.

This is down to problems with either CAS (electronic ignition switch) or ESL (electronic steering lock).

Sometimes this can be sorted out by re-programming of CAS but more often you'll have to replace it and then re-program it to adapt it to your car.

ESL can also cause problems due to beeing stiff (grease ageing or mechanical fault).


It's not the end of the world as the CAS is priced below £200 plus programming.

I have replaced quite few mainly on E60 cars.
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Re: Help with steering wheel lock warning light E90

Postby Tomtom7204 » Thu, 24 Oct 2013 19:22:09 UTC

I have an 56 320d and the yellow light came on one day and didn't go off again. I never had the red light until I got home a couple of months later and the red light came on when I took the key out of the ignition. I replaced the key into the ignition and the car would not start and the red light was flashing and beeping every time I tried to start the car.

I tried all the suggestions I found on the forums wiggle the weel and disconnect the battery check the fuses but with no joy. I had it towed to the BMW garage and they reset the ignition cache to 0 which cost £90. There was no mechanical fault with the steering lock it was a software issue. My advise is to get it sorted as soon as the yellow light comes on because its a pain to get it onto the tow truck and cost me £100 which is more than it cost to fix the problem.
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