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      06-01-2020, 04:22 PM   #1
searchdev's Avatar

Drives: 1M Coupe, Z4 M Coupe
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Caledon, ON

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Unlocking BMW 1M trunk with NO battery in the car.

Long post but it worked!

To start, I will say that I have read most of the other posts talking about getting into a locked BMW 1M trunk. There are some differences, which meant those posts did not help me. Hence, this post.

I will quickly outline the quick differences:

1) 2011 BMW 1Mís do not have a manual keyhole on the trunk. Since late 2009 BMW eliminated them from their lineup
2) Others talk about having a dead battery. If this is the case, there is a way to get in by jump starting the car from the positive and negative poles under the hood. The battery is there so the circuit loop is closed
3) Others talk about having a disconnected negative terminal on the battery. Again, the car can be jump started from the positive and negative poles under the hood because even with the negative off, there are other negative grounds on the car so the circuit is closed. If the positive terminal were removed, you would be in the same predicament as having no battery.
4) Others talk about folding down the seats. This may work for older 1 Series and other BWMís, however the 1Mís have the folding seat latches in the trunk.

So that leads me to where I found myself. A BMW 1M with the battery removed, trunk locked and seats up.

In my few days of trying to solve this, I tried all the suggestions in the posts and called the dealership. The dealership said to tow the car to them and then they will jump the car while adding a wire to power the trunk actuator. That is either off the fuse panel or they would cut into the wiring harness. For me, that was beyond my DIY skills and sounded like an expensive journey to the dealership.

So I continued to think. What if I took out the rear seats? I knew they were locked but if I removed the bolts from the bottom, maybe I could get my arm into the trunk from below to reach the seat release latch. I have long arms but would the pressure I put on the latch from flexing the seat back allow it to unlatch. I didnít have a large enough Torx bit to do the work so I was waiting for a friend to drop off the set when I thought about another angle. With the two sidepieces off the rear seat back corners, I noticed a small gap where I could look into the trunk. When I looked with my flash light, I happen to see the glow in the dark safety release handle that hangs on the rear trunk panel, which is used if a person gets locked in the trunk. That is also why the seat latches are back there. Two escape routes if a person is locked in the trunk.

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To remove the seat corners, first remove the rear seat bench. Pull up from the front and then it pulls right out. The side panels can be tricky but they too just pull out. Just be gentle so you donít break any of the clips. I believe I started from the bottom but needed to pull on the sides as well. Worth the full minute of gentle pulling on different points until it pops off. I can only imagine how much this would cost to replace.

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So with a small gap and vision on the glow in the dark release handle I had to get a long rod or something that would be thin enough to slide through the side gap and be strong enough not to flex with the 3 or 4 foot length and have a hook on it to pull on the release without bending. A clothes hanger would be too weak, as the hook on the end would unravel when pulling hard on the release.

Looking in my workshop, I had some wood trim but wasnít sure it would fit and wasnít sure how to put a hook on it. Then my wife suggested a piece of copper pipe (3/8ís). I knew I had some elbows that I could weld on but would that get to the inside of the hanging release handle. I then just thought that I could hammer the piece of copper pipe to make an angle, which I did. Just bending the pipe was not enough as it flare out at the bend. When I hammered down the flares, it folded the end, which made the hook ever stronger. So in I went.

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There is just enough room in the gap to get the pipe through with a little rubbing. Now just to angle it towards the release handle. Flashlight in one hand and the pipe in the other, I slid the pipe in to reach the trunk panel. Two things happened to me by luck. The first was that the pipe was long enough to reach the rear but not too long that it rubbed on the interior of the car. The second fortunate thing was that I hit the handle when I first pushed the pipe through. By hitting it, the handle came off of its retaining clip, which meant it was dangling a bit. With the release handle dangling I could get the hook behind the handle so that I could pull with the copper pipe hook. I hooked it and pulled. It does need a good amount to pressure but then I heard the glorious pop. I was in!

Without this method, I was left with towing the car to the dealership. I can only assume that would mean hundreds of dollars. Glad I avoided that and I hope this post means that you can avoid it as well.

Incidentally, if you removed your battery to replace it, ensure that when you install the new battery that you register it with the car computer. Look that up on other posts, if needed, but it is a thing. Its not about the warranty but rather telling the car you have a new battery so that it can manage the consumption and charging levels to get the longest life out of the battery.
2011 1M Coupe | Sapphire Black
2006 Z4 M Coupe | Space Grey

Last edited by searchdev; 06-01-2020 at 04:27 PM..
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      06-01-2020, 04:42 PM   #2
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Drives: 2011 135i, Space Grey
Join Date: Apr 2014
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There are similar posts describing access through one of the rear speaker grilles which sit on that ledge behind the rear seats.

Nice to have a little variation now, going through that side panel. Just a bit more risk in breaking the clips, and also having to deal with moving the bench out of the way a little to gain access.
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      06-01-2020, 11:13 PM   #3
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Drives: 1M
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Virginia

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Great write up!

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      06-02-2020, 03:29 PM   #4
Kind of a big deal

Drives: an 1M not often enough
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: between Unlimited and Hard to Get

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Great that you share your solution. Happend to a lot of us (self included).

When it happend to me, with exactly the similar start position (closed trunk, disconnected battery and seats up). I bought my car while living in the US though, so that might be a significant difference: I connected a charger (alternatively a battery) to the front terminals and pushed the trunk unlock button in the cockpit. Do Canadian/EU cars have a trunk unlock button just in front of the driver door?
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      06-05-2020, 08:05 AM   #5
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Drives: Black BMW 135i N55
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: London Surrey

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I had this problem, except mine was so dead i couldn't even unlock the car. Managed to get a charge underneath the car to open doors & trunk. Quick & easy.
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battery, bmw 1m, locked, no power, seats up, trunk

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