Why Is My BMW Steering Wheel Locked?

A BMW steering wheel lock is an important anti-theft measure—but a lock that won’t disengage could be a sign of serious mechanical trouble.
Written by Kara Vanderbeek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If the steering wheel in your BMW is locked, turn your wheel in the direction that it’s locked and start your ignition to unlock it. If your wheel doesn’t budge, you may be dealing with a larger mechanical issue. 
When it comes to BMW vehicles, luxury, sophistication, and safety are at the top of mind. That’s why every BMW model is designed to prevent theft through the steering wheel’s locking mechanism. 
In essence, the wheel will lock if it’s turned without the key in the ignition. While this safety mechanism is great at reducing vehicle theft, it can be a pain for drivers who accidentally lock their wheels. 
, the
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savings, has created this guide detailing what to do about a locked BMW steering wheel, including when to seek professional help. 
We’ll also drop some knowledge about reducing your
BMW car insurance cost
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How to unlock your BMW steering wheel

To unlock the steering wheel in your BMW, start by pulling the wheel down in the same direction it was in when it locked. With your wheel held in the right direction, insert your key into the ignition to start your engine. Your steering wheel should unlock. 
If you’re still having trouble, try turning your wheel in the opposite direction and repeating the steps above. 
The BMW steering wheel is designed to unlock after completing these steps. If it doesn’t, you may be looking at a more serious problem rooted in your vehicle’s mechanics

Why your BMW steering wheel lock might engage

Now that you’ve unlocked your wheel, you’re probably wondering how it locked up in the first place so you can avoid dealing with this problem again. The most likely cause for a locked BMW steering wheel is a driver accidentally turning the wheel too sharply in one direction after the ignition has turned off
However, there are a number of reasons your wheel may lock up, including mechanical failure, a faulty ignition lock cylinder, and frozen tumblers. Let’s dive into a few of the most common causes. 
If your steering wheel locks while parked
If your steering wheel won’t move when your BMW is in “Park” and fails to respond to the unlocking procedure above, you may be dealing with an ignition failure. If this is the case, you may need to replace the ignition switch or cylinder to unlock your wheel. 
If your steering wheel locks while driving
Unfortunately, it’s also possible for your wheel to lock up while you're on the road. In this case, your BMW likely has a significant malfunction in the steering column, power steering system,
steering rack
, or suspension. 
In the rare event that this occurs, do your best not to panic. Keep your hands on the wheel and apply your brakes as soon as your safety on the road permits. 
If possible, steer your vehicle to the side of the road and call for roadside assistance to help. 

If your steering wheel is usable but stiff

If your steering wheel is growing increasingly stiff to turn but hasn’t locked, you’re likely dealing with a power steering system failure. 
A few common culprits behind a stiff steering wheel include a malfunctioning
power steering pump
, contaminated
power steering fluid
, or a leak in the steering system.
To find out which culprit you’re dealing with, take your BMW to a mechanic or local service center for a vehicle assessment.

How to save on BMW insurance

Driving a sporty, sophisticated vehicle like a BMW doesn’t come cheap. From the cost of fuel to expensive upgrades and pricey vehicle maintenance, keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape can put a major dent in your wallet. 
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