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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was working on replacing the DISA valves and it seems the FRM died suddenly. It appears the FRM3 is prone to sudden death when disconnecting / reconnecting the battery.
I did disconnect battery a few times to prevent discharge while working. In the interim, I did charge battery a couple of hours. Also drove around about 15 miles to see if problem would go away.
I do have some screenshots of the codes below. Main one is the CDAB, a few others below. I use BavTech cable.
Some symptom highlights:
  • Headlights are not working (always in DRL mode)
  • Turn signals do not work
  • Windows do not go down
  • Taillights are always on for some reason.
  • Brake lights work OK
What are options for replacing FRM? Is there someone who can reprogram them for a fee?
Also obviously buying a new one is an option, what software can be used to code new one?
I know I'm reaching but is there a way to "hard reset" module?


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I’ve heard that The FRM locks up due to the RAM being totally full. Every time there’s a fault or program it creates a log and eventually the logs eat up all available memory until the unit can no longer operate. There is no hard reset or programming that’s going to empty the RAM. There are rebuild services available but I can’t vouch for the quality or success. Obviously replacement is the recommended option but you will need ISTA/ISTA4/ESYS to program the new module.
Thanks! That helps. When you say replace with the new module and program using ISTA/ISTA4/ESYS: how exactly is that done? Are there instructions somewhere on how to actually program new one?

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This actually happened to a friend of mine when his battery was disconnected for too long while he replaced the clutch. He found a place nearby in CT that rewrote or did something with his to make it right for not much money. More money than it would take to make my 80s cars work, but less than one might figure. OP where are you located?

Via the interwebs
MA, so CT is quite close... Where in CT please? This sounds like an amazing option...
BTW, my mirrors were folded in while working on DISA. So I have to drive with mirrors folded in for now.

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thank you dudekt442! I will contact the shop and update the thread.
For now, I've been learning about this issue a bit. To my surprise, FRM3 is very prone to this failure mode. A likely scenario is that the EEPROM gets corrupted; requiring a good EEPROM dump / p-flash being written to it. Failure can occur for many reasons, but most people cite battery voltage drop.
As it stands, BMW is aware of this issue but never issued a recall. They extended the warranty for FRM and google says it's 10 years / 156,000 miles. My car is at 159k and falls out of range, unfortunately.
So what are the options to fix?
1. Recode the existing FRM3, surprisingly documented quite well in many places. You will need a programming interface, ranging in cost roughly $90 - $400. Details: FRM3 Resurrection Thread

2. Pay a shop to recode the FRM3 (I will try this based on dudekt442's reference). The cost of service seems uniform at the moment at $150 at the couple of places I checked.

2A. Almost forgot, there are many ebay listings to fix FRM by mail-in service, prices range $40-$60.

3. Buy a new FRM3 and code it in yourself using bimmergeeks or similar cable. It's not clear to me how to code in a new FRM3, but it seems you have to use combination of NCSexpert, INPA, ISTA, maybe others? The cable is currently $70 and new FRM3 is roughly $430.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
PM sent.
Another thought: shouldn't the seat adjustments NOT work if FRM at fault? The seats work fine...

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Heya George, was waiting for your detail reply! I do my best to answer your questions below:
Do Windows, at least rear, work when buttons on doors OTHER than Driver door are used?
YES, I was surprised but the rear door buttons work to lower / raise rear windows.
Does ANY function of the Headlight Switch work?
No, none. Any position of headlight stitch leaves DRL on and rear lights on. Btw, high beams to not engage.
Are DLR lights (and tail lights) Always on when Ignition ON?
That is correct, the DRL are always on.
Do Hi-beam headlights come on when signal stalk pulled?
No, when pulled toward driver there's no "flash". Also, pushing away does not turn on the high beams.
If you click "View" link at right of definition, you will see Fault Information sheet, which suggests the DME is NOT receiving Bus signal from FRM (related to "Lamp Status"). "Service Notes" suggest: "Check CAN link between light module and DME". Also, the ISTA wiring diagram suggests that fuses F41 & F81 power the front windows (window outputs), but the rear windows are powered via the JBE.
Ah that is good help. Thanks for diagrams, are there specific wires to check that communicate with DME? Not sure I can find it in the diagram. Some obvious checks are probably the constant +5V and ground?
And yeah I checked all fuses at least twice with a multimeter. And did an extra run for the fuses 41, 81 and 84, 86.
I don't know anything about "BavTech". Can it display a list of all Modules to which tool/software can connect (as INPA or ISTA do)? I would be interested in knowing if FRM can be "connected to" via its bus connection to JBE (Hub), or if ANY FRM function (light) can be "Activated". I would also be interested in knowing what Fault Codes may be found in the FRM Module. If you can't "connect to" a module such as the FRM, that usually indicates a Power Supply issue OR a Bus Communication issue.
Yup, Bavarian Tech cable shows a full list of modules with native names and it's very user friendly which is why I bought it years ago. You simply click on a module to establish connection. Then you can read / erase fault codes and several commands and activations are available. However, it is quite limited compared to Standard Tools.
Anyhow, connecting to FRM fails; simply says "failed to connect" - so unable to read / erase codes or run any activations. See below my stolen screenshot from someone else. See FRM module 3/4 way down.

ISTA also has a "Guided Troubleshooting" function (Calculate Test Plan), and that might be helpful when tests are NOT obvious from the wiring diagrams. That is particularly true related to the FRM module which has MANY different functions and bus connections. I don't claim to understand HOW the FRM works, and how/ if/ why disconnecting the battery (or pulling one or more of the 4 FRM fuses) could cause what you describe. ANYONE care to explain that?
That sounds useful. Question: can I run the troubleshooting guide without cable on ISTA? I have standard tools downloaded so I can start poking around if no cable is required for some functions.
The explanations for failure mode of FRM are dubious at best. What I understand, and this is hazy logic at best, is that FRM will log every time there's a voltage irregularity and store it. However, there's a finite and laughably small maximum number of faults it can store. Think of a basic number, like 64 (I don't know exact value). So for fault #65, the memory, or EEPROM (?) is full and the entire unit's soft written code gets corrupted. Great design.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A few minor updates. New battery is installed today as a precaution to hopefully keep repaired / new FRM from failing. Old one was 5-6 years old. Napa has a decent one, for large 90-100AH batteries, the model 8449 fits perfectly just like OEM.
Still not sure which path I will take, trying several shops who may be able to reprogram / repair my module. Just in case I HAVE to install a new one, I took some notes on how to code-in a new FRM. Dumping step-by-step here, in case people read this later they have a reference.
open INPA
 - make sure Ignition On, Cable On
 - select E90 (or other chassis)
 - select Body
 - select FRM (pre or post 07) [warnings pop up]
  - check info, errors, etc. [to see codes, part num, etc.]
 - close
open WinKfp
 - choose comfort
 - update ECU (F3)
 - choose FRM version installed (usually 3)
 - enter VIN (F4) [provide your vin number]
 - OK; Done
 - Prog ZB Update [takes a few min]
 - close
USE INPA to verify VIN:
 - Select E90
 - Functional Jobs
 - E90; User Info Field; [VIN should match other Modules]
open NCS-Expert
 - file; load profile
 - choose manipulation (or expert)
 - start (F1)
 - Chassis (F3); Pick E89 [Seems strange, but E9X series are all under E89]
 - Choose CAS; OK
 - Back (F6)
 - Process ECU (F4); Choose NFRM; OK
 - Change Job (F2); Choose FA_WRITE
 - Execute Job (F3)
 - Back to Main (F6); Start (F1)
 - Chassis (F3); Choose NFRM; Back (F6); Process ECU (F4) [Jobname: SG_CODEREN, takes a bit of time]

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Your "Question" suggests a different concept from mine, so I'll explain my concepts and how I would use ISTA to address your FRM issue. THEN I'll suggest HOW to inspect/clean the Bus Connections at the FRM & JBE (Bus Hub), per the attached ISTA ScreenPrints.

ISTA is NOT part of "BMW Standard Tools" (which includes INPA for Diagnostics, NCS for coding, WinKFP for Programming/Flashing, and Tool32 (for a bunch of unknown things ;-). ISTA-D or ISTA+, also known as Rheingold, is "Dealer-Level" diagnostic software that can be installed on Windows OS Laptop, free download from MEGA, and a K+DCAN Cable ($50 from BimmerGeeks) is used to connect Laptop to E9x vehicle OBD II Socket. That cable can be used for most software connections to E9x vehicle (INPA, ISTA, NCS, etc.).

ISTA can be used to view "Documents" such as SSP wiring diagrams, REP repair procedures, etc., WITHOUT being connected to the Vehicle (OBD II Socket). However, to run any kind of "Diagnostics", the laptop MUST be connected to the Vehicle via K+DCAN Cable (or Wi-Fi/ BT Adapter). ISTA "Guided Troubleshooting" uses a "Flow Chart" method of "Diagnostics", and the initial step in that process is to connect to the Vehicle and read fault codes. THEN you select a particular fault code you want to diagnose. SO, you MUST be connected to vehicle to do that.

So to Emphasize: what you CAN do with ISTA, WITHOUT Cable/Wi-Fi/BT connection to vehicle:
RESEARCH: view documents, such as wiring diagrams, component locations, connector views, etc. ScreenPrint Examples of such documents were attached to Post #10 above, and also to this post.

FRM Bus Connections:
The FRM Module is connected to BOTH the PT-CAN Bus (PowerTrain) & the K-CAN Bus. I assume from the Definition of the "CDAB" code, and the Fault Info, linked in Post #10 above, that what should be checked is the PT-CAN bus connections between the FRM (Connector X14260, Pins #43 & #44, Red & Blue/Red wires) and the JBE Module (Connector X14271 [Blue], Pins #1 & #2). I have never "Checked CAN link" between two modules myself.

I would simply begin by disconnecting those two connectors, and inspecting the specific pins & sockets identified above (Red wire & Blue/Red wire at each). Look for any moisture, corrosion, enlarged sockets or anything preventing proper contact between pins/sockets, use Electronic Contact Cleaner to clean.

Since you can't connect to the FRM Module, it is also possible that the K-CAN Bus connections have issues. The two wires used for K-CAN Bus are (1) Green, & (2) Orange/Green. They are located in the SAME two Connectors, and are identified as follows:
FRM: X14260/45 (Green wire) & X14260/46 (Orange/Green wire).
JBE: X14271/10 (Green wire) & X14271/46 (Orange/Green wire).
So while you have those 2 connectors disconnected, carefully inspect/clean those pins/sockets as well.

Of course, after ALL THIS, your FRM COULD be "Fried" (mysterious internal Black Box failure). :eek: Since you cannot connect to the FRM, and SOME of the FRM lighting functions work, THAT suggests a possibility of Bus connection issues, either in PT-CAN or K-CAN connections.

Wiring could PROBABLY be safely tested for continuity and short to chassis ground by using Ohms setting on Multimeter to measure Resistance between either end of Red wire at each separated connector; repeat for Blue/Red. Then test for Continuity to Chassis Ground at each of the wires at one of the connectors.

ANYONE know any reason WHY that could damage anything, such as another Module that remains connected to bus? Better way to test for continuity or Short-to-Ground?

Attached are ISTA ScreenPrints showing PT-CAN bus wiring, and Connector Location and Connector view for FRM & JBE Connectors, so you can do the suggested inspection and cleaning.
View attachment 1057886 View attachment 1057887 View attachment 1057888 View attachment 1057889 View attachment 1057890
Hi George, thank you for detailed explanations and screen caps! I was not motivated enough to check wiring, as I was hoping it's not the issue because I did not touch wiring at all. Instead, I tossed a coin hoping recoding the module would work as so many people had theirs corrupted simply by a voltage jump.
This helps a lot though, thank you!

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
All fixed! I can't believe how quickly an FRM can be revived with the right equipment. The shop only had for less than 24 hours, and I'm sure it only took a couple of minutes to recode the module. It was also done at "extremely reasonable" cost.
Big thank you to Mperor Tuning shop for doing the work (link below). I picked up the FRM, disconnected the battery and connected the 3 harness connectors into FRM. Immediately I was able to unfold mirrors upon battery reconnection. Lights, windows, everything works! No coding needed.
The shop did excellent job, and do call if you have any electrical (other?) issues, they seem to know BMW quite well.

A few more notes on the symptoms of a "temporarily disabled" FRM module. I will not say "failed" anymore, as the fix is really quite simple and appears to be so ubiquitous. In addition to symptom in post 1, I had noticed following:
- Door open indication was stuck in current state. Meaning, for me in particular, passenger door was always shown ajar.
- Headlights were NOT in DRL state, instead low beams were on (with lamps corner lights off).
- Taillights were in ON state, with properly working brake lights.
Now, when removing the FRM from car entirely, it becomes very dangerous to drive. At this point, not only turn signals, but brake lights do not function (nor reverse lights, nor any lights except for very useful trunk light). The headlamps are completely off, even if you have the DRL setup previously. It is interesting that even having removed the FRM, the door ajar indication was still on for passenger door. So FRM must have sent signal to other module about this that got stored.

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I'm glad it's "all fixed". So we can learn something from this, Questions:
1) What did Shop say was WRONG with the FRM?
2) Did Shop give you any Invoice that explained what examinations/tests were done & the findings?
3) Did Shop "recode" the FRM, and if so what did they do exactly, and with what software?
4) What specifically did the Shop do to "Fix" the FRM Module?
5) Has anything changed in the "Information", "Identification" or "UIF" data for the FRM as a result of the Shop's work?
6) Can you attach a scan of any invoice provided by Shop?
[Edit: a few more details + grammar]
Hi George! Surely, this might make a good educational thread.
1. They did not give me too much detail, but the owner confirmed that the data was "corrupted", likely due to battery voltage dip. I noticed in the interim of working on my car, voltage did got to 11.6V at some point.
[I learned for these cars, it's very important to monitor battery voltage. I use a similar ebay USB adapter in center storage (link below)].

2. Unfortunately, the receipt is quite simple and says "FRM Module Repair".

3. Yes, that's exactly what they did. They offer many services related to electronics, including something called "module clone". They did not tell me exactly how / what they did, but my guess is that they have overwritten EEPROM (internal FRM soft-written code), similar to the DYI method in this thread: FRM3 Resurrection Thread Doing a little more research, I learned that the fact that the code is corrupted is almost immediately obvious when connecting the FRM to a programmer and reading (instead of writing) code using a PC.
Sample error when reading module here 11.00:
Also you can see this guy hint at it around 7.00:
And here, around 7.08 (notice the dots and FF that should contain data instead):
Some programmers will come with free coding software that can be used. Also, there's a web-based "code scrubber" that will unscramble the particular FRM code.

4. I imagine it's somewhat part of trade secret, I do know the corrupted data was overwritten. And conveniently enough, they don't need the car for it. Just the module. Edit: Another shop I talked to has more info on their page, also picture of their setup:

5. Good question! I am waiting for the bimmergeeks cable and as soon as I get it, I can get into INPA and get module info to see if anything has changed.

6. Will do for sure, I will edit this post once I scan it in.

USB Voltage Monitor:

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I finally got a chance to run INPA to see what has changed with the FRM. I honestly cannot tell if anything at all has been modified.
Just to clarify, FRM has been working well after shop re-programmed it.
George, is there specific place where I can see what has been modified in INPA? I am new to standard tools, so here are a few snapshots of different menus I went through related to FRM.

FRM Info:

FMR Ident.

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
The way I found my shop is simply via google maps and searching around area for BMW shops. Call them all and see who can do FRM repair / reprogram. The ones that do, will know what you're asking them right away.
I know these guys do mail-in repair, but the cost is a bit high: FRM REPAIR | Highline Motorsports Group

The shop that did mine was quite a bit cheaper, however you'd have to call them to see if they can do mail-in: BMW Tuning, BMW Performance and BMW Coding and Maintenance in Hartford, New Haven and Springfield
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