I have a 1997 E38 with a very strange problem with the remote locking mechanism. I'm able to unlock the doors and open the bootlid, but the locking button doesn't lock the doors anymore. It used to, but stopped working for both of my keys at the same time.

The mechanic chalked the problems up to remote key malfunction, but the button itself works - if I press the locking button when the doors are already locked, the interior lights go on just like they're supposed to. If the car is unlocked, the button does nothing at all. Any ideas what could be causing this?

  • Can you lock the doors from inside? If not, then the problem is with your central locking mechanism. – TMN Mar 8 '12 at 21:22
  • Yes I can and also locking the doors manually using the key worked fine as well. The problem actually turned out to be the remote key battery - for some reason the locking button stops working before the others do. After replacing a fresh battery to both keys they started working like new again. – Kaivosukeltaja Mar 12 '12 at 9:21
  • im having exactly the same problem as the OP, no idea what it could be. the remote will unlock and open the boot and when the car is locked the lock button will cause the interior lights to turn on .. so it must be getting signal. not sure why it wont lock the car though. i can unlock and lock the car from the door and from the button inside, so the central locking is working. – user19775 Jul 14 '16 at 6:17

Normally when a system fails from the keys, but otherwise works from the car, it could be a module not getting a signal. If you can look at your codes, they might say something about the locking system.


Door lock actuators are notorious for failing on the E39 5-series. I expect it is the same part used on the E38 7-series as well. The actuator needs changing out.

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