Solved: Turn key no crank BMW E46 320d (2004)

bmw e46 320d touring

Update: It was the key! We took the key apart and used the microchip inside to test whether it gets recognized by the immobilizer. Guess what – when putting the microchip/board next to the keyhole, a clicking sound came from lower left of the dashboard. The car regognized the chip when it was placed nearer to the keyhole than it would be when placed inside the key.

The key was taken to a microchip solder who resoldered all the connections on the circuit board and voila, the key worked as new after that.

And below follows the old story, if you’re still interested to see what I did to resolve the ignition key not turning engine on my BMW e46 320 diesel that I’ve sold to date but still have fond memories of.

Had a really weird issue with my BMW 320d (e46). Put the key in ignition, all lights turn on, but when starting, nothing. No change in lights, no clicks, no cranking.

I could hear the pump hitting up the fuel, that was the only sound coming from outside.

So, I thought it is the immobilizer, anti theft or neutral (clutch) sensor. Or weak battery or bad key or faulty keyhole (ignition system) or just corroded terminals on the battery. Tried everything, even moving the car back and forth while in gear to put the starter in a different positon and tried to bang the starter a couple of times. Tried opening the car via door lock with a key.

I found an INCREDIBLE LIST OF THINGS TO TRY IF “TURN KEY NOTHING HAPPENS. Tried almost everything, but nothing helped. WARNING – click on that link and you will be there for at least an hour 🙂


I was surprised that my battery only had 10.6V in it. Very unlikely that the car would start from that low voltage. So I need to charge the battery I thought.

But I was playing around… and finally got it running.


How did I get the BMW 320d e46 “turn key nothing happens” solved?

Update: seems that this was only a temporary fix or a coincidence. It’s still broken.

Testing the sytem – display panel.

I am not sure what this does (a reset?), but after this my car started.

1. Hold on the left button on the dashboard (trip counter reset button)

2. When it says test, release it and press again until number 19, release button

3. Says off, quickly press again

4. Press until 2 and release (now everything turns on)

After doing this a couple of times the e46 started normally.

I do not know, did this reset anything (surely it didn’t solve any corrosion or mechanical issues), but the car started. So I let it run for 2 hours with everything turned off to charge the battery.

There are numerous videos of BMW dashboard functions on YouTube:


Ps, to test the battery level (voltage) via your dashboard on BMW e46, go like this.

1. Press left button on dashboard (trip reset button) until says Test

2. release, press until 19

3. release, press until 9, release

4. Read the value (106 means 10.6, 127 means 12.7 etc). You are good with anything above 12V (120).


Posted the question in this company-s forum:

Post Author: Tom Pai