I’ve always disliked the term “deadlock” when applied to a vehicle. It tends to give people the wrong impression of what is actually going on. To me, the term “Deadlock” implies that an additional lock of some type has been engaged. I prefer to think of these systems as a “disconnect...
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Another great way to lock the key in a BMW equipped with the Type 2 system is to lock the car with the key or the remote and then unlock the trunk, set the keys inside the trunk and close the trunk lid. I’ve seen this scenario occasionally at golf courses where the owner sits on the trunk lip, sets the keys inside the trunk, changes his shoes, grabs his clubs and then closes the lid. Once again, the car will not be in the deadlocked mode because it was not locked with the key or the remote. Even if the driver locked the car before opening the trunk, the central locking system unlocked the car when either the key or the remote was used to unlock the trunk. When the trunk was closed, the central locking system once again locked the car, but because the key or the remote was not used, the car will not be in the deadlocked mode.
BMW began gradually phasing out the Type 2 system beginning in the 1996 model year.
Type 3 Systems
This is the system that is in use today and the majority of BMW vehicles that you will encounter will be equipped with this system. The new Mini-Cooper, which is built by BMW, is also equipped with this system. The deadlock on these vehicles is automatically activated within a few seconds after the vehicle is locked, regardless of how the vehicle is locked. On vehicles equipped with the Type 3 system, the inside lock control buttons will disengaged and move up and down freely without any effect on the locks.
On these vehicles, the base of the linkage that connects the inside lock control button to the latch is mounted in a slide on the side of the door latch. When the button moves, it is operating an electronic switch that is also a part of the latch. In normal operation, pushing the button down will lock the doors and the top of the button will be flush with the top of the door panel. If the ignition is on, pulling the inside door handle or operating the power door lock button will unlock the door and move the lock button back up. If the ignition is off, it may be necessary to pull the inside door handle twice in order to exit the vehicle.
If you were able to get a tool inside the door to attack the vertical lock linkage, you would find that the button would move up easily in its slide and then drop back down as soon as you release it, without unlocking the door. In addition, operating the power door lock from inside the car after the deadlock has been activated will lift the lock button, but will not unlock the door.
Since there are three very different systems out there, the way you attack a deadlocked BMW will vary according to the system that you’re attacking and the tools that you have on hand, but some methods will work on all three systems.
Picking The Lock
Ten years ago, picking a high-security lock, such as those found on BMWs, required a great amount of skill and usually an even greater amount of luck. But today, several high-security lock picking systems are on the market, and they can be relatively easy to use. Most work quite well, at least to some degree, depending on the age of the vehicle. The BMW lock pick systems generally fall into two categories: all-in-one systems and modular systems. Picking most high security locks first requires you to pick the lock in the “wrong” direction and then you have to “flip” it back into the unlocked position with a plug-spinner.
Some of the picking tools incorporate a turning tool (tension wrench), pick and plug spinner all into one tool, while other systems use individual (modular) components to do the same job. As a general rule, I prefer the modular type of pick because I can use the components, such as the turning tool and the plug-spinner, on other jobs as well as picking high-security locks. I often use the turning tool that came with my pick set to help me pick GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicle locks. It does a great job of grabbing the shutter door on almost any automotive lock. In addition, I can use the plug spinner for flipping almost any lock that I pick in the wrong direction.
The problem with all of the picking tools is that the folks at BMW are not stupid. Once pick sets became available for their locks, they started changing the way that the locks are built in order to stop the picks from working on the newer cars. Most of the pick sets can easily pick the door locks on any BMW made before 2002. But after 2002, the locks have gotten much harder to pick, which explains the new generation of high-security decoding tools that have recently come on the market. With the new decoding tools, you can decode a high-security door lock and then make a key to unlock the door. Of course making the key requires a high-security key machine, which is something that relatively few locksmith trucks are equipped with.
Using Traditional Car-Opening Tools
Why has the process of unlocking cars today changed so much in the last decade? The two biggest factors are crash safety and cost reduction.
Even with all the tools, some jobs are harder than others.