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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Opinions on "best" handheld OBDII tool for e70 35d, preferably in the sub $200 range, specifically well suited for diesel related emissions system faults, modules, live data, etc.

I prefer handheld "all-in-one" units vs plug in USB / wifi / bluetooth dongles & associated app; however, I've not had much experience with the more recent apps like Carly & others. All the posts I've found when searching recommend some mobile application based system, which I'd prefer to not have, especially a subscription / ongoing costs / surprise costs for features / etc...

For my E46 325i & E36 M3, my previous harbor freight "premium" OBDII code scanner worked perfectly fine for troubleshooting w/ live data (until it was stolen); however, these are pretty damn simple cars w/ boat loads of info on the internet for even the most obscure & rarely occurring fault code... I've been pressing my luck w/ my newly acquired 2012 E70 35d w/ zero issues thus far; however, I know for a fact that I'm due for an expensive check engine light soon & would prefer to have a capable OBDII tool on hand before this happens.

Any recommendations / insights would be helpful. If there's a compelling reason to go with a mobile app based system, I'm willing to consider it ; however, I'd much prefer to keep with a self contained handheld unit that doesn't have the potential for flaky / annoying communications & bug issues I've experienced in the past.
 

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1. OBD codes are different than "BMW specific" codes, do you understand this? A reader that is BMW specific can see codes an generic OBD cannot, and will have better resolution of some BMW codes

2. Reading codes is only part of the deal. Your use of "modules, live data" leads me to believe this is understood.

3. Carly sucks. Pricing is predatory; customer suport non-existent.

4. I keep a peake in my E39 glovebox; have carly from many years ago (but no carly adapter); a wifi and a BT dongle, and copy of BMW sw on my laptop.....
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
1. Yes, I'm well aware of manufacturer specific codes; hence why I'm inquiring about "The best" handheld OBD tool that is specifically well suited for a BMW e70 35d due to the specialized modules / features / needs specific to diesel BMW's...

2. Yes, I'm well familiar with needing to ping, talk to, reset, code, & chart data from BMW specific modules / controllers / sensors / output devices; hence why I'm inquiring about "the best" handheld ODB tool that is specifically well suited for a BMW E70 35d due to the specialized modules / features / needs specific to diesel BMW's...

3. I agree, 100%. This is why I'm asking for recommendations / experiences for handheld OBDII scan tools, specifically well suited for a BMW diesel... If someone voiced a compelling reason to go with a mobile application based tool, I'd consider it depending on shady upcharge BS involved; however, I've not found an acceptable BS / price / benefit / annoying bugs ratio in my previous experiences with these types of apps.

4. Shame about Peake, as I'd probably spring for one... I remember wanting one of those about 10 years ago, but never pulled the trigger.
 

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Cool.

I wonder how many responses you will get for a "handheld BMW OBD/proprietary scanner that can interrogate, test and code modules'

In all honesty, I will be interested to hear of one.

IMO, it will be foxwell and ISTA on a laptop... for a complete solution....
 

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Rheingold, forget the OBDII scanner. You want the test plans, there are too many codes that are BMW specific but generic enough to not aid in diagnosis
 

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I have used the Carly Bluetooth device and app and it is okay but I purchased it before they changed to a monthly subscription service. I would not pay a monthly fee for an app at all.

My mechanic uses the Foxwell NT510 BMW specific OBD scanner and it works great for most things.

https://www.amazon.com/FOXWELL-Auto...sr=8-1-spons&keywords=foxwell+nt510+bmw&psc=1

Quite a few people use this tool and it seems to be one of the best for under $200.

Ideally you would probably want to get a laptop and install Rheingold. I think the Foxwell tool will suffice for most things though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the responses.

Guess I'll be looking at a dual solution, both a reasonably capable handheld & a USB based solution for more specialized needs (USB can be flaky for critical applications, but I certainly trust it more than wireless communication).

I've been looking into the Foxwell BMW "marketed" handhelds for a keep in the car solution. Seems a lot of them will do the things that I want in a handheld.

Any recommendations on a good & reputable USB based OBDII dongle? In my professional work experience, a lot of these types of devices are flaky depending on the serial to USB converter chip used. FTDI makes the best RS-232 to USB converter IC available, but not sure if there's an equivalent for OBDII to USB dongles.
 

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I have the Foxwell hand held. For a sub $200 it's the best in my book. It took care of my last two problems active tank and ad-blue injectors.

It can also reads my E46 and E39.
 

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Thanks for the responses.

Guess I'll be looking at a dual solution, both a reasonably capable handheld & a USB based solution for more specialized needs (USB can be flaky for critical applications, but I certainly trust it more than wireless communication).

I've been looking into the Foxwell BMW "marketed" handhelds for a keep in the car solution. Seems a lot of them will do the things that I want in a handheld.

Any recommendations on a good & reputable USB based OBDII dongle? In my professional work experience, a lot of these types of devices are flaky depending on the serial to USB converter chip used. FTDI makes the best RS-232 to USB converter IC available, but not sure if there's an equivalent for OBDII to USB dongles.
This is the cable that you want, do not buy a cheaper cable:

https://www.bimmergeeks.net/product-page/bimmergeeks-pro-cable
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ended up getting the Foxwell NT520 Pro w/ BMW specific software preloaded on it for $159 shipped from Amazon. Was going to go w/ the NT510, but the NT520 was cheaper by about $20, & I prefer the membrane buttons of the NT520, over the rubber membrane buttons w/ carbon impregnated rubber pucks that the NT510 uses.

So far, does everything I want, & more, in a handheld. Takes about 3-4 minutes for it to scan thru & interrogate everything for stored codes. Only thing I don't like is that I can't select live view data from different system groups at the same time, where you can only select variables that are from the same system group to view & save, but this is a pretty common limitation for handheld units unless you get into the $1K+ range...

Reset a ton of random stored codes caused from a dead battery that the BMW dealership agreed to replace before I bought the car. Kind of surprised they didn't clear these out, as they coded the new battery from the looks of it.

About had a heart attack when damn near every system had faults during the initial scan, but they were all due to low voltage, dead battery, or some random comm and / or module fault related to a worn out battery or power disconnect. No faults persist except for the old DPF warning code & transfer case oil needing replacement.

Would highly recommend this unit, so far, if you're wanting a handheld unit.

Also bought a cheap $20 FTDI based DCAN USB converter... Will see if it's stupid soon enough... Found the BimmerGeeks converter after I already purchased the cheap amazon one. I'm really only planning on using it to code a few features that I'd like, but who knows how far this rabbit hole will go once I dig in ;)
 

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Ended up getting the Foxwell NT520 Pro w/ BMW specific software preloaded on it for $159 shipped from Amazon. Was going to go w/ the NT510, but the NT520 was cheaper by about $20, & I prefer the membrane buttons of the NT520, over the rubber membrane buttons w/ carbon impregnated rubber pucks that the NT510 uses.

So far, does everything I want, & more, in a handheld. Takes about 3-4 minutes for it to scan thru & interrogate everything for stored codes. Only thing I don't like is that I can't select live view data from different system groups at the same time, where you can only select variables that are from the same system group to view & save, but this is a pretty common limitation for handheld units unless you get into the $1K+ range...

Reset a ton of random stored codes caused from a dead battery that the BMW dealership agreed to replace before I bought the car. Kind of surprised they didn't clear these out, as they coded the new battery from the looks of it.

About had a heart attack when damn near every system had faults during the initial scan, but they were all due to low voltage, dead battery, or some random comm and / or module fault related to a worn out battery or power disconnect. No faults persist except for the old DPF warning code & transfer case oil needing replacement.

Would highly recommend this unit, so far, if you're wanting a handheld unit.

Also bought a cheap $20 FTDI based DCAN USB converter... Will see if it's stupid soon enough... Found the BimmerGeeks converter after I already purchased the cheap amazon one. I'm really only planning on using it to code a few features that I'd like, but who knows how far this rabbit hole will go once I dig in ;)

Good to hear that the Foxwell tool works for most things. I have been getting by with the Carly adapter but I may pick up one of these tools as a backup. I don't think there is a better option for under $200.

I would be very cautious of using a cheap DCAN cable, I tried a cheap one that I purchased from Ebay and it caused a big problem with my vehicle. All of the lights in the vehicle started flashing and would not turn off and eventually the battery just went dead which actually seemed to correct the problem. Once the battery was completely dead I was able to jump start the car and everything was okay.

I am almost positive that the footwell module was the real problem but it happened when I connected the cheap DCAN cable to the car. I also purchased the ISTA software from the same person on Ebay so I am not entirely sure if it was the cable or the software that was responsible. The cable that is known to work and not cause issues is only $45 so it's not worth taking a chance with a cheap cable in my opinion.
 

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Cheap dcan works fine for me...Flashing and coding no issues.
I had an issue way back with frm but ista-p recovered it. That's not the cable's fault though, crappy bmw frm has a bug which can be fixed by flashing the updated firmware.

Just make sure you set the latency timer to 1 in the com port settings otherwise some programs will time out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Update after using the NT520 Pro BMW for a week or so. So far, VERY impressed with it!

Things I've found it can do. There's a TON more, but this is what I've looked at so far & are some of the more common things people ask about how to do:

- Register battery type, capacity, & installation date (Other ones I looked at can only register install date, not change type or capacity)

- Actuate fuel pump to purge air after a fuel filter change

- Reset transmission adaptations, register trans oil / filter change, & view current adaptations
- Also saw a test plan to measure trans oil fill level, as well as stuff about registering new mechatronics & valve body.

- Reset Transfer Case "worn out oil" fault code, reset transfer case adaptations, register oil change / service.
- Saw options to register replacement servo actuator, transfer case, & some other stuff as well.

- Initiate DPF regen, register DPF replacement to get rid of "Worn Out DPF" warning codes.
- Can also view expected life in km till 10-minute DPF warning fault code is thrown.

- Register new injector calibrations
- Reset mean adaptation

- View a ton of stuff related to the SCR system, as well as register replacement components, as well as reset fill level after filling.

- Steering angle sensor calibration & registration

- A bunch of stuff related to traction control (wheel speed sensors, yaw / tilt sensor, control module(s), etc)

- Actuate ABS / traction control system for brake bleeding
- Can also do a bunch of other stuff in actuating various things that I have't dug into yet.

- Reset EGR adaptations, plus a bunch of other stuff related to that system that I haven't dug into yet.
- Kinda neat that you can manually adjust the multiplier for both high & low side EGR

- View current usage percentages, & reset CBS service for:
- Engine Oil
- Spark Plugs (not applicable for diesel)
- Front & Rear Brakes
- Coolant
- DPF
- Brake Fluid
- Cabin Microfilter
- Exhaust / Emissions system
- Vehicle Service interval Check
- Can also change 1st registration date, as well as adjust annual distance for CBS system

- Reset Steering Wheel Lock (ELV) counter & faults

- Looks like it'll actuate stuff for the Arnott air-bag rear suspension, as well as those w/ Dynamic Drive

- A bunch of stuff to diagnose / see conditions of the CAS system, as well as register various modules associated.

- A bunch of stuff to view, register, reset, etc various modules & controllers for the entertainment system, navigation, communication, security system, communication hosts / controllers, etc...

- Enable / Disable Transport Mode, as well as delete it from ever being able to be randomly enabled if you get some odd electrical fault.
- Can also enable car battery trickle charging via OBDII port.

- Seems that if the thing you're replacing requires registration and / or calibration, this thing can do it, so long as the car was originally equipped w/ it, or has been separately coded to appear legit via NCSexpert.

- Can also do some test plans for various systems; however, I haven't dug too far into this, as I haven't needed to... Yet...
 

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I already have a DCAN cable and laptop with the software installed, but it's not exactly easy and convenient. I already have an Innova 3160G, but I've been really impressed with the feedback on the Foxwell NT520.

I just picked one up on eBay for $141.05 with free shipping. It's listed at $151.05 but the seller, eBay ID powerscan, is currently offering $10 off. On top of that, eBay is giving me $14.10 in eBay bucks on this purchase (a promotion that's running for a couple days), so my net cost is just $126.95. Couldn't pass that up!

I'll probably keep this one in the car so it's readily available any time.

If you're interested, here's a link to the eBay auction: https://www.ebay.com/itm/153213573803
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I found a few limitations of the 520 pro today... Tons of codes & constant limp mode / reduced engine power trying to leave work this evening.

520 pro was useful in documenting & clearing codes to see what popped up quickly after I'd reset codes, as well as seeing that my MAP sensor was apparently outputting a constant 46.3 PSI intake charge pressure, even with the engine turned off.

Doesn't show exhaust pressure sensor data (Only DPF pressure differential sensor data) & can't view / log variables from different control systems at the same time.

Really needed ISTA-D to run some test plans on the exhaust pressure sensor, MAP sensor, MAF sensor, & EGR system, but I don't keep my personal laptop in my car & I haven't used it for about 5 years...

Was able to diagnose the issue as not damaging to the engine or turbos (although, the DPF might be a bit worse for wear), with other tools I had at work, but it would have been nice to have more thorough live data depth & flexibility with the 520 pro. The 520 Pro was very useful in quickly clearing codes to get up to speed after the light turned green, where it would revert back into limp mode soon after getting up to speed. Traffic was only going 35 - 45 MPH on the backroads route I took home due to road conditions anyways, so wasn't that big of deal to limp it the 35 miles back home from work.

To diagnose the issue, ended up pulling out the exhaust pressure sensor & MAP sensor, then used my trusty Agilent multimeter & a bench power supply to get exhaust pressure sensor & MAP sensor output voltages in our R&D lab that has access to the compressed air system & a bunch of vacuum generators for process control equipment. Also used an Omron handheld digital vacuum pressure gauge to determine that the vacuum system had no apparent leaks from the feed lines I was able to access. Of note, the Exhaust Pressure Sensor uses four 5-point "Torx Plus" security fasteners to mount it, which I fortunately had at work to remove it.

About 3 hours after trying to leave work, diagnosed it as a bad MAP sensor that had its output pegged at the +5Vdc power input (Thus explaining the constant 46.3 PSI reading from the 520 pro), as well as a very leaky high pressure line that feeds pressure to the pre-turbo exhaust manifold pressure sensor (Actual sensor appeared to test OK on the bench, but I'm replacing it anyways due to it being a known failure item at high mileage). Even with the codes & access to individual sensor data, it would have likely not been possible to confidently diagnose the issue without a few key threads on this forum, as well as E90 & Xoutpost, where I simply plugged in the initial recurring fault codes into an "AND" string on google, where about 15 or so useful search results popped up all pointing to either the MAP sensor, exhaust pressure sensor, MAF sensor, vacuum system leaks / faulty converters, high pressure air intake leaks, EGR Valve operation, and / or CBU issues in the intake runners / valves, with faulty MAP Sensor & Exhaust Pressure Sensor being the most commonly reported root causes.

Word to the wise, regardless of how late you are to work, don't stop your car at the beginning of a passive DPF regen cycle in 7F temperatures during a winter weather advisory, after you putted along on the highway in stop & go traffic for an hour, as I believe this to have pushed things over the edge. I've had literally zero issues with any hidden / background engine related fault codes, nor any hints of abnormal engine operation for the past 3500 miles since I bought my 35d that would suggest an upcoming issue w/ these sensors... I'm also guessing that my EGR valve is likely a bit sticky, where leaving the car in single digits weather & high winds for 10 hours contributed to issues & some of the EGR related fault codes that were logged upon initial start of issues about a half mile when I left work, but didn't recur after the engine warmed up a bit when doing laps in the parking lot to log recurring fault codes. Removing the charge pipe from the throttle body & looking at the EGR valve with a mirror & flashlight, the EGR valve actually looks pretty good overall w/ no heavy buildup on the actuating valve portion; almost ZERO buildup on the throttle body flap :D.

Even with the limitations of the 520 pro's diagnostic functions, I'd still HIGHLY recommend having one in your truck, as I'd have certainly ponied up the couple hundred dollars to call a flat bed & transport my X5 35 miles back home (w/ awkward / coerced small talk w/ the flat bed driver for an hour or more), and waited about 5 hours for him to even arrive due to the weather & all the other car accidents, IF without having access to the codes that pointed me towards what was causing the engine malfunction & limp mode, as well as the ability to reset the codes to get home.

For the $150 price I paid for the 520 Pro, it's already paid for itself several times over w/ just this one situation. Got the 325i dug out of the snow for transportation, replacement parts are ordered for the X5, & I should be back on the road by Thursday for about $180 instead of several times that, or more, if I required someone else to diagnose the issue & do the parts replacement, let alone the couple hundred dollar 35 mile flat bed transport.... I'd speculate that the 520 saved me between $600 - $800+, prevented a lot more annoyance tonight, as well as a lot of time without my X5 w/ the dealership likely wanting to replace the DPF, HP EGR, EGR valve, MAF, & who knows what else before homing into the MAP & Exhaust pressure sensors...

EDIT: Adding the initial recurring fault codes for search-ability & another data point incase someone else has the same issues & stumbles upon this thread. Codes are listed in most frequently occurring to least. A whole lot more codes would show up eventually as I drove on in limp mode; however, these are the main ones that would rapidly recur after resetting codes & allow limp mode to kick back in, and AFTER the engine had warmed up a bit.

48DC - Charging Pressure Sensor, Plausibility
4C83 - Exhaust Pressure Before Turbocharger, Plausibility
3F25 - Charge-Air Tube Monitoring
4B82 - Exhaust-Gas Recirculation-Rate Control, Control Deviation
4862 - Air System, Air to EGR Mass Flow, Plausibility
3FF0 - Air-Mass Flow Sensor
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Follow up.

Replacing intake manifold MAP sensor fixed issue without further fuss. No codes at all after replacing just this sensor & doing nothing else; engine is VERY noticeably stronger between 1K-2K RPM as well, which has completely gotten rid of the weird / jerky low throttle 1 - 2 gear shift I was attributing to the transmission.

520 Pro does not appear to scale the MAP sensor's output data correctly, as it sits at 146 or so PSI at idle...
For troubleshooting on a 520 Pro: On a functioning sensor, it responds very quickly according to throttle input, whereas my bad sensor was stuck at 46.3 PSI with +-0.1 or so deviation regardless of throttle input.

Replaced exhaust pressure sensor & the pressure line to the exhaust this evening, as well as removed intake manifold to clean EGR & Anti-shutter valve. VERY easy to remove intake manifold, probably the easiest one on any car I've ever owned. No noticeable improvement in perceived engine power / performance after the above "extra" things I did; however, it was only a 2 mile drive on a cold engine, so I didn't push things hard at all.

EGR valve was surprisingly clean w/ minor CBU on the EGR cooler side of the valve & pretty much bare metal inside of the valve except for the shaft support area & the valve itself; however, the shaft did feel a slight bit sticky when pushing it in (slightly slow to release back out). Anti-shudder valve was in great shape, w/ barely a light hazing of carbon dust on the trailing edges of the plate w/ completely bare metal on the housing & the rest of the plate.

Pretty sure my engine has had a CBU cleaning & HP EGR system replacement in the recent past as the intake runners were CLEAN, the swirl flaps only had a minor dusting (like the anti-shudder valve). Inside the intake manifold was nothing to be alarmed about at all.
Lower runners were bare cast aluminum as far down as I could see w/ zero build up (only a light oil coating). Upper runners thru valve cover were 95% bare plastic w/ a light oil coating, except for a few minor patches of CBU (Looks like it's been cleaned as the small CBU patches were about 1 - 2mm thick & the edges were abrupt & squared off as if they'd been scraped at a bit). Didn't have anything to look at the valves & stems themselves, but I'm ASSuming they're in similar condition to the rest of the intake. Once summer comes, the valve cover is coming off to do a pre-emptive valve cover gasket replacement, along w/ oil filter housing gasket & oil cooler gasket, before they start leaking, as every BMW does and / or eventually will at high mileage...

I'm really liking this X5d more & more.
 

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Sounds like you know what you're doing and I'm sure you will provide great input to people's questions. Awesome.

FWIW, the X5d does not seem to be prone to CBU. The 335d yes, but X5d, not so much it seems. I believe they have different EGR setup which has been stated as a reason. Doesn't mean yours was not blasted off, but after 6 years on here, CBU not a thing.

Glad you're liking the X5. Every time I drive through a snow storm in this thing I like it more. Snow storm number whatever coming tomorrow as we're getting pounded in the Sierras again and I have to get to Healdsburg tomorrow or face the wrath from the SO who expects me and the dogs over there for the weekend...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ya, I've been around the block a few times w/ my E36 M3 & E46 325i, as well as other makes & models of used luxury vehicles... Learned some good lessons that a BMW is not a Toyota, which is why I was so incredibly picky when searching for an E70 X5d over the past 2 years that satisfied each & every check mark I wanted for the price that I wanted to pay. I was in no rush or push to buy, as this X5 is more a project car until I replace everything to trust it enough to become my DD, where I'll buy another used BMW as a project car until I get it up to par, then repeat the cycle again ;)

I've read that CBU isn't as much of an issue with the E70 35d, compared to the E90 335D, due to the LP EGR subsidizing a lot of the work of the HP EGR system; however, at 150K miles, I've seen some pretty horrible looking E70 35d's with far fewer miles. I was excepting a whole lot more CBU; however, I'm glad that I didn't find it ;). What's confusing is that I've got detailed service records for this car from the dealership; however, nothing shows CBU cleaning...

I actually prefer my E46 325i for winter storms when I'm feeling a bit frisky. It's a whole lot of fun & the traction control is completely predictable if you're that kinda guy who likes to push things a bit more than one should; however, I agree that the X5 is about as close as it comes to a perfect severe winter DD. Snow storms are absolutely boring in my X5; however, it is quite a lot of fun getting up to speed as if on dry pavement while everyone else is struggling to stay strait in their lane w/ their far inferior traction control systems ;)
 

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Well, you're in Michigan... Where I am the people driving in snow around me are San Francisco area drivers who can barely function in the city or crawling on freeways at 35MPH. Smart people for the most part, make a ton of money for the most part, eyes glued to their mobile device for the most part, left lane hogs for the most part, just can't drive for the most part. You get them on twisty roads with snow, with inappropriate tires, surrounded by 18 wheelers and they freak out with totally unpredictable response to any situation. In that jungle the control of the X5 with the right tires is like a safety bubble.

I used to live in the Detroit area many many years ago and my first job was driving area MI, OH, IN, and western PA visiting customer sites. That meant 30-37k miles a year on my car for about 4 years in all weather conditions. back then cars were beater BMW's and even some not so beater BMW's, all with RWD and winter tires from October through May. Never got stuck or bent metal.
 
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