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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-24-2012, 11:12 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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BMW Diagnostic Tool for Scanning ABS, Brake, DSC Lights

Hello Everyone,

Well this questions has been asked a hundred times and I know I should visit a dealer to have my car scanned so I can figure out how to resolve this problem. The problem I have is I live in the middle of North Dakota and there isn't a BMW dealership for at least 500 miles (Minneapolis).

My brake, ABS, and DSC lights are all on, on my 2002 325xi. I've checked all of my speed sensors and cleaned them but the problem persists. I don't really want to drive 500 miles in the winter to Minneapolis to visit a dealership. Do most car repair shops have the necessary tools to diagnose BMW's? I'm thinking of ordering a scanner off eBay so I can scan the car myself but I'm not sure if the scanners on there will be able to diagnose this problem.

Does anyone else have any experience in using a code scanner from eBay or elsewhere that is specifically made for BMW's? I hope it's just a speed sensor but the problem is you can't tell if they are bad without a scanner and I live 500 miles from the nearest BMW specific scanner. I was thinking of ordering the following scanner but I'm not sure if it will return what I need.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brand-New-BM...c96a2c&vxp=mtr

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You!
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  #2  
Old 12-24-2012, 11:16 PM
chansta chansta is offline
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wheel speed sensor? you can test these with a dmm if you know how it works.
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  #3  
Old 12-24-2012, 11:23 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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What is DMM

I think it is the wheel speed sensor but I don't want to replace all of them. Can you shed some more light on what "dmm" is? Thank you for the quick reply.
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  #4  
Old 12-24-2012, 11:24 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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Never mind

Oops never mind. Thanks for the reply. I'll test the speed sensors with a "DMM".
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  #5  
Old 12-25-2012, 12:08 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
there isn't a BMW dealership for at least 500 miles
Most of us avoid the dealer like the plague ... so that should be of no concern to you (other then for the odd fifty-cent hose or bolt).

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
My brake, ABS, and DSC lights are all on, on my 2002 325xi
It's called the trifecta. It has happened to virtually every single E38, E39, and E46 on the planet. See this canonical reference:
- How to diagnose & resolve the BMW ABS BRAKE DSC/ASC trifecta DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I've checked all of my speed sensors
How did you check them? (We've outlined the six or seven tests in that post above).

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I don't really want to drive 500 miles in the winter to Minneapolis to visit a dealership.
The only tools you need are a DMM and some celery wire for testing the sensors; for testing the ABS control module, you need an exacto knife and a toothpick (and a magnifying glass if you don't have good eyes).

All the details are in that thread I just pointed you to (almost 300,000 people have visited that thread, so, all the garbage has been weeded out - and - all the odd-ball experiences have been added & resolved). Nobody has failed to solve their trifecta.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Do most car repair shops have the necessary tools to diagnose BMW's?
Necessary tools? It's just a car. It's simply an engine. It's a plain Jane Bosch ABS (same one used in plenty of other vehicles). There's nothing special about it (other than BMW cut costs by locating the ABS control module too close to engine heat and vibration & Bosch screwed up on their attachment of the 7th aluminum wire to its gold bondpad).

If you really want the fancy schmancy diagnostic tools, you guys have an E46 thread on where to get them yourself. The E39 thread for that is here:
- Making sense of the most often recommended BMW diagnostic tools & cable interfaces (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I'm thinking of ordering a scanner off eBay so I can scan the car myself but I'm not sure if the scanners on there will be able to diagnose this problem.
Loooooong story. The fancy schmancy tools, in the case of the trifecta, have been proven (time and time and time again) to be nearly useless. See why here:
- Why the fancy diagnostic tools very often (extremely often, like almost all the time) fail to properly diagnose the trifecta or bifecta (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Does anyone else have any experience in using a code scanner from eBay or elsewhere that is specifically made for BMW's?
Ummm... yeah. Plenty of people here (see the aforementioned diagnostic thread). But, for the trifecta, just get out a good DMM (my Fluke 75 worked perfectly for the trifecta diagnostic step) and some really thin celery wire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I hope it's just a speed sensor but the problem is you can't tell if they are bad without a scanner
Let me put it bluntly. The scanner is (almost) useless for the trifecta - the reasons why are in the aforementioned threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I live 500 miles from the nearest BMW specific scanner.
There's that dealer again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I think it is the wheel speed sensor but I don't want to replace all of them.
Only a fool replaces more than one wheel speed sensor.

You, my friend, have a simple problem, with a simple solution. Just read:

- How to diagnose the BMW amber ABS BRAKE DSC/ASC trifecta or bifecta (1) & what are all known options when your ABS control module is bad (1) & Quick99Si's explanation of why the 10-minute wheel speed sensor diode-action quick test doesn't always work, especially on brand new non-OEM wheel speed sensors (1) (2) & explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools very often (extremely often, like almost all the time) fail to properly diagnose the trifecta or bifecta (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) & where to get the fancy schmancy diagnostic tools for free once you're aware of these limitations (1) & an ABS BRAKE DSC trifecta brake pressure sensor diagnostic DIY (1) & how to test and replace the steering angle sensor (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #6  
Old 12-25-2012, 07:22 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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Thank You bluebee

Hello bluebee...

Thank you very much for the detailed break down of my question. I've purchased a DMM and will post the results once I know more.

Thanks for the help everyone
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  #7  
Old 12-25-2012, 11:27 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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Right Rear Sensor

Well I checked using a DMM and all sensors returned 2.9v except the right rear sensor which I couldn't get a reading from. I know that sensor can cause problems with my cruise control but that strangely still works. Ordered a new sensor... Fingers crossed

Last edited by richterbmw; 12-25-2012 at 11:32 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2013, 10:52 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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Speed sensor didn't resolve the problem

I just replaced the right rear speed sensor and that didn't solve the problem. I have a 325xi and I don't think the pin-out instruction in the DIY ABS, DSC, Brake light fix are correct for a E46 as the instruction cover a E39. Ordered a BMW Super Scanner from eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140767720234...S:3160&vxp=mtr

I hope that will help me shed more light on what the problem could be. I don't think its the ABS module overheating as the problem started on a cold day in North Dakota. I don't think anything could overheat when it's 20 degrees outside If anyone else has anymore suggestions I'd appreciate them.
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  #9  
Old 01-05-2013, 09:48 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I have a 325xi and I don't think the pin-out instruction in the DIY ABS, DSC, Brake light fix are correct for a E46 as the instruction cover a E39
That makes no sense (to me).
You replaced the sensor, right?
You had it in your hands, right?
If so, why not just test the readings off the two pins on the end of the sensor connector?

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Ordered a BMW Super Scanner from eBay
You wanted a scanner so badly, I suspected you were going to get one.

The problem with a scanner, especially on the ABS issues you're facing, is that it has to be connected in the right place (bypassing the ABS control module in most cases).
Nobody ever does that. So everybody gets the wrong answer when it's the (broken) ABS control module that is giving the answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I don't think its the ABS module overheating as the problem started on a cold day in North Dakota.
What if the 7th aluminum wire lifted off it's gold bondpad (which is the most common ABS control module fault)?
Are you saying that just can't happen in 20 weather?
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-05-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2013, 01:55 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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Sensor pinout

I actually didn't remove the sensor until I ordered the new one. When I said the pin out wasn't correct I was talking about the harness under the hood where all of the points come together and plug into the ABS module. I tested from there when I originally diagnosed the problem using the a DMM.

Pins 30 and 31 are specified in the DIY diagnosis which weren't the correct pins for my rear right sensor. The other pins are correct. So after testing the other points and getting a reading from the DMM I assumed the right rear was the culprit because I wasn't getting a reading from it... Which wasn't the the problem. The DIY has a list of several error codes that can be returned and when browsing other posts regarding the same issue most people say take it to the dealer and get the codes read because it can be different problems.

Quote:
The problem with a scanner, especially on the ABS issues you're facing, is that it has to be connected in the right place (bypassing the ABS control module in most cases).
Nobody ever does that. So everybody gets the wrong answer when it's the (broken) ABS control module that is giving the answers.
I don't understand what you mean by connecting in the wrong place? From my understanding the code reader connects to the OBDII output by the drivers feet.

Quote:
What if the 7th aluminum wire lifted off it's gold bondpad (which is the most common ABS control module fault)? Are you saying that just can't happen in 20 weather?
That I'm not sure of. Some posts I've read say this happened on a hot day due to heat problems causing problems with the solder points and my problem starting happening when I was driving on a really cold day. But I guess this could be the problem too.

Does anyone know where to find more information on this problem related to E46 and not an E39?

Last edited by richterbmw; 01-05-2013 at 02:05 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2013, 11:13 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
When I said the pin out wasn't correct I was talking about the harness under the hood where all of the points come together and plug into the ABS module.

EDIT: I'm very sorry the DIY caused you to buy a sensor you didn't need. I understand. You trusted the DIY, and it failed you. I feel badly about that. I wish there was a good description of the pinout for the E46. I implore the E46 owners to list the pinout.
Here is mine for the Bosch 5.7 DSC III module.
Once you have the E46 pinouts (they may vary by module), the rest of the DIY should be the same.



The trifecta is sooooooo prvevalent that it behooves you guys to figure out the pinout, once, so that everyone can benefit.
It would be nice if one of you posts an update to the aforementioned thread (which has had 250K views so a LOT of people are going there for solutions).
Once the proper pinout is outlined for the E46, the rest of the procedure should be the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Pins 30 and 31 are specified in the DIY diagnosis which weren't the correct pins for my rear right sensor. The other pins are correct.
Would you kindly post the right pinout to that thread so the NEXT E46 owner has the answer (or open an E46-specific thread, or put it here, and I'll reference it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I don't understand what you mean by connecting in the wrong place? From my understanding the code reader connects to the OBDII output by the drivers feet.
That's the wrong place.
Fundamentally, ALL scanners try to read the (often broken) ABS computer for the answer ... and they all come up with the wrong answer almost all the time if not all the time. I didn't conclude this - others did - but the record time and time and time and time again has borne this one out.

Sad to say, but the scanner won't help when it comes to the trifecta. A toothpick and an exacto knife is all you really need to positively diagnose an ABS control module.
It's covered in gory detail here:
- Repeated explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools fail (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Some posts I've read say this happened on a hot day due to heat problems causing problems with the solder points and my problem starting happening when I was driving on a really cold day. But I guess this could be the problem too.
There are many idiots out there. And morons. And styupid people. And smart people. The whole gamut is out there - so - guess what? Since the bifecta or trifecta happens to almost all of us (if not all of us), there are that many opinions on what happened.

Fact is you have it. It's like a disease. It really doesn't matter, at this point, how you got it (in reality, BMW put the ABS control module too close to the engine in order to save money - which is covered with proof from Bosch - but it really doesn't matter at this stage).


Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
Does anyone know where to find more information on this problem related to E46 and not an E39?
If there is a canonical E46 link, please let me know so that I can refer to it in the aforementioned canonical ABS control module diagnostic DIY.
If there are folks who own an E46 who know the answer, please chime in.

In addition, it's not really the vehicle model that matters so much as the ABS system model. Here's just one page, a chart, out of the BMW training manual that we posted on that thread which covers the E46 in gory detail, as well as the E39.

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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-06-2013 at 11:34 AM.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2013, 04:36 PM
richterbmw richterbmw is offline
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It's Ok

Hey bluebee no worries. I appreciate the DIY you've put together and it's been helpful diagnosing ABS problems on my 325xi. Once I get the scanner in I'll report back. I appreciate all of the effort put forth into creating the DIY and once I get back into the heated shop (Live in North Dakota) I'll provide more information on the ABS harness pin-out for E46 owners.
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  #13  
Old 01-07-2013, 07:51 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richterbmw View Post
I'll provide more information on the ABS harness pin-out for E46 owners.
That would be great.

Here is the thread for it:
- E46 ABS control module harness wheel sensor pinout for the ABS/BRAKE/DSC bi trifecta
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  #14  
Old 05-04-2013, 07:17 PM
TK9211 TK9211 is offline
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Guys, sorry I am too confused trying to follow how to fix this trifecta on a 02 e46? Can either of you list me exact link/steps (one more time) please? I don't have any tools, have tried nothing and don't even know what dmm is, so please don't joke but help this layman...thanks much !!
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