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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-15-2014, 04:31 PM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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Module Masters ABS report

After replacing a defective rear speed sensor and clearing all codes,
The infamous trifecta quickly returned. I sent the module to Module Masters for repair.
I get a call from them that the unit is in perfect working order!

I now am at a loss as what to do or check. My Indy mechanic suggested I send
in the module because it was the original unit.
To make matters worse, I now have a CEL

Any ideas as to what to do or try?:
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Last edited by AV8R4AA; 07-15-2014 at 04:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:06 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
After replacing a defective rear speed sensor and clearing all codes,
The infamous trifecta quickly returned. I sent the module to Module Masters for repair.
I get a call from them that the unit is in perfect working order!

I now am at a loss as what to do or check. My Indy mechanic suggested I send
in the module because it was the original unit.
To make matters worse, I now have a CEL

Any ideas as to what to do or try?:
I'm confused. Normally, with the exception of a possible (and probably bogus) P0500, there wouldn't be any DTCs with the typical trifecta, so, I'm not sure what you meant by "clearing the codes" or by the CEL lighting up.

What's the DTC?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee
This "classic" ABS trifecta response is here so I can cut-and-paste it whenever someone asks about it.

(All this information is from teaming up with Bill (540iman) and gathering additional details from BlackBMWs, BMW_n00b13, TheStig, Edgy36-39, Max_VQ, PharoE39, freewilly, BAMF, and others).

Three solid yellow ABS/Brake/DSC lights almost always indicates a classic BMW problem:
1. Go to the first thread in the E39 forums (the VERY best of E39 Links)
2. Search for ABS (you'll find this post)
3. Click on this canonical summary in that post (in addition, see Bill's 'logic' of testing ABS sensors).
Note: The lights may come on all at once, or one at a time, and they may be intermittent, and in the beginning they may go out when you restart the car but come back; eventually they become lit solid all the time. It's all the same problem when you have the ABS Brake DSC trifecta!

Luckily, almost always, resolution is quick, simple, and reasonably inexpensive:
- Quick: In a half hour with a DMM, you'll know exactly what components failed;
- Simple: Removal of speed sensors (<$100 each) and/or the ABS control module (<$500 new) is a ten-minute job each;
- Cheap: My ABS control module rebuild cost me $150 USD, in toto, including tax & shipping (most people report successful rebuilds under $300).

In summary, the flow-chart procedure to follow (summarized from this thread) is:
a. Open the hood, disconnect the ABS control module harness & check the four wheel speed sensors with a DMM;
b. If any wheel speed sensor tests bad, doublecheck at the appropriate wheel; replace the bad one with an OE sensor (<$100, rarely more than one!);
c. If all four speed sensors are good, simply send your ABS control module to BBA/MM/ATE (recommended in that order) for a rebuild ($300-$150 in toto);
d. If the rebuilder can't repair your module (takes about 5 days overall), buy a new module ($480 from Jared at EACTuning) & have the VIN recoded at the stealer (about $120).

In almost all (if not all) ABS, Brake, & DSC light trifecta situations, it's that simple!

BTW, while your ABS control module is out of the car (about 5 days), the following anomalies may occur:
- Brake/DSC/ABS trifecta solid yellow lights (on the instrument cluster)
- Service Engine Soon (SES) solid yellow light lit (on the instrument cluster)
- No ABS (upon hard braking under low-traction conditions)
- No traction control (DSC or ASC on lateral action)
- No speedometer (use a portable GPS navigation unit if you're worried about that)
- No odometer (again, use a portable GPS unit if this bothers you)
- No tripmeter (use a portable GPS unit if it's a worry to you)
- No cruise control
- OBDII diagnostic trouble code DTC P0500, i.e., bad speed sensor (clear by driving or with an OBDII scanner)
- No possibility of passing (California at least) smog inspections (until you replace the ABS control module & clear the DTC)
- No speed-sensitive automatic door locks (if enabled at the stealer)
- No GPS (if you have navigation)
- No mileage calculations on the instrument cluster
- No fuel consumption calculations on the instrument cluster
- No range indications on the instrument cluster
- No speed-sensitive radio (if equipped)
- No speed-sensitive wipers (if equipped)
- Erratic fuel gauge (especially when near empty, so keep the tank at greater than 3/4 at all times)
- Erratic transmission shifting (if automatic; if it bothers you, switch to manual shifting)

SUMMARY:
The problem is usually a single wheel sensor goes bad (wires or the <$100 sensor), or the ABS control module goes bad (a steel resistance-welded wire lifts off its bond pad, Bill kindly ran a full autopsy here). Debugging is best done with a DMM; an OBDII scanner can ONLY find "communication errors", i.e., it cannot tell a bad speed or pressure sensor from a bad ABS control module and will often report the wrong problem because it isn't inserted BETWEEN the ABS control module and the various sensors (see extensive reports by 540iman on this). The ABS control module costs ~$150 to $300 to rebuild, ~$500 to replace; if you put anything back on other than your original ABS control module, the VIN will need to be recoded (15 minutes with a GT-1 or Autologic or similar; impossible otherwise). You'll need to clear your OBDII DTC codes after you fix everything if you plan on passing smog tests that week (ask me how I know). If you need to replace a speed sensor, don't go aftermarket; get as close to OE as possible.

Before you send your ABS control module out for rebuilding, please consider opening it up first, post pictures to Bill's ABS autopsy thread (the rebuilders say they work on previously opened ABS control modules all the time). If you fix the broken wire, post that to the thread as a success story!
This is my very own smog report. Notice that the P0500 was bogus (read the related thread for details).
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will 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; 07-15-2014 at 06:57 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:43 PM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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Location: Dallas
 
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The DTC WAS
P0500. Indicating right rear sensor failure.
We replaced that, cleared the trifecta lights.
1/2 a block away the trifecta lights came back on.

I sent module in for repair. Status report is works perfect.
Module due back this week. Do I install it and see what happens?
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  #4  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:51 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
The DTC WAS
P0500. Indicating right rear sensor failure.
We replaced that, cleared the trifecta lights.
1/2 a block away the trifecta lights came back on.

I sent module in for repair. Status report is works perfect.
Module due back this week. Do I install it and see what happens?
Everything you say confuses me, not the least of which is that a P0500 is decidedly NOT a wheel speed sensor code (see photo below).
It's a transmission output shaft speed sensor code, and, when I had it, it was a bogus code.
In fact, I don't think we have a single case here on the forum of a "real" P0500 (I could be wrong, but, from memory, they've all been bogus).

Anyway, simply typing /p0500 in the bestlinks brings up the following, so I'm just repeating information that is already in the record:
- What's this about the P0500 setting the SES (1) & why you want to wait a week before getting a smog test after removing your ABS control module (1)
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will 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; 07-15-2014 at 07:02 PM.
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2014, 07:49 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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Mein Auto: 530I/5SC 97-528/5
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
The DTC WAS
P0500. Indicating right rear sensor failure.
We replaced that, cleared the trifecta lights.
1/2 a block away the trifecta lights came back on.

I sent module in for repair. Status report is works perfect.
Module due back this week. Do I install it and see what happens?
If you are sure the new sensors are good then you should clean the ring ( the hills and valleys are so dirty that the signal is weak causing a bad reading).
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  #6  
Old 07-15-2014, 08:41 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
BTW, if someone suspects the wheel speed sensors, they wouldn't just replace them, willy nilly, but test them out.

After a five minute test, they'd have a pretty good idea what they were up against...

If a sensor tested bad, cleaning it and running the test again makes sense.

If they still fail any one of the six tests, then I'd replace them.

But not before then ...
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will 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; 07-15-2014 at 08:43 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-15-2014, 08:45 PM
alex5er alex5er is offline
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Mein Auto: e39 1997 528i
Did you use OEM wheel speed sensor? Many have experience a return of the trifecta after a day or soon after using aftermarket WSS.


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  #8  
Old 07-15-2014, 09:02 PM
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helmet75 helmet75 is offline
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Joey's links are spam! Do not click them!
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Looking for Parts for my E39- PM Me for wishlist and to deal!
2000 528i- Current Daily Driver and Project Car
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp G- 3.8 Supercharged. Sold to buy the BMW. Chipped, 27MPG, tons of torque.
2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GT- Traded in to get GTP. Electrical Hell.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2014, 09:48 PM
alex5er alex5er is offline
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Thanks for the heads- up.


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  #10  
Old 07-15-2014, 09:53 PM
Crutzy Crutzy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helmet75 View Post
Joey's links are spam! Do not click them!
Who is Joey?
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  #11  
Old 07-16-2014, 05:41 AM
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helmet75 helmet75 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crutzy View Post
Who is Joey?
Looks like the mods got the account removed.
__________________

Looking for Parts for my E39- PM Me for wishlist and to deal!
2000 528i- Current Daily Driver and Project Car
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp G- 3.8 Supercharged. Sold to buy the BMW. Chipped, 27MPG, tons of torque.
2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GT- Traded in to get GTP. Electrical Hell.
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  #12  
Old 07-16-2014, 10:18 AM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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Didn't use Oem.
Might be the problem
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  #13  
Old 07-16-2014, 05:19 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
Didn't use Oem.
Might be the problem
See also:
- What happens when you use brand new non-OEM wheel speed sensors, by Quick99Si (1)
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will 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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  #14  
Old 07-17-2014, 10:24 AM
Richey Richey is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 530i 230k+ miles
Can't tell for sure

from your posts, but it sounds like you got the CEL *after* driving around without the ABS module.

I went a week without mine and got a CEL after just a couple of days. I was almost expecting it since I had no speedometer or odometer while the module was out. I'm assuming the monitoring inputs are all jacked up which flipped a code. After the module was back in, the CEL went off after a few more days.
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