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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I briefly left my gas cap off after refueling. The gas cap was only off for about 20 minutes while I drove home. Two days later, my car sputtered at start-up and shook. About 2 minutes later, the "service engine soon" light came on.

I've done very minor repair work on my car myself (e.g. replacing light bulbs), and I imagine this problem will be way beyond my capabilities. Is there anything I can do before calling the mechanic in the morning?

The gas cap is is pretty new, in good repair, and was replaced about a year ago.

Thanks so much.

2006 BMW 325i
E90
About 92,000 miles
 

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...briefly left my gas cap off after refueling. The gas cap was only off for about 20 minutes while I drove home. Two days later, my car sputtered at start-up and shook. About 2 minutes later, the "service engine soon" light came on. I've done very minor repair work on my car myself (e.g. replacing light bulbs), and I imagine this problem will be way beyond my capabilities. Is there anything I can do before calling the mechanic in the morning?
As relative4 suggests, the sputtering, shaking & SES light 2 days later is almost certainly unrelated to leaving the fuel filler cap off for 20 minutes. The ONLY reason the filler cap being in place is important is to prevent evaporative emissions (evaporating fuel vapor) from the fuel tank for air quality purposes, and it has NO effect on the way the fuel system or engine operate if you leave it off, either during the time it is off, or much less, 2 days later.

Any time you get rough running and an SES light, turn the engine off and restart. In some instances of "misfire" having caused a fuel injector to shut down, and a triggered SES light, everything will be normal upon restart. If that is your case (normal on restart, and NO SES light), I would encourage you to get a reasonably-priced generic P-code reader in the $25 - $35 range. Although I have INPA (BMW-specific diagnostic software) on my laptop, I carry this $35 generic scan tool in my glovebox to read my own codes or those of ANY vehicle sold in the US since 1996:
https://www.amazon.com/Autel-AutoLi...69465&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=autel+al319&psc=1

Rather than having to rely upon (and $PAY ;-) a shop to read codes and tell you how much that will cost you, you can DIY and post the info here, and some kind soul will offer advice that is usually worth more than what you paid for it (what a concept ;-).

BTW, any time the SES light was lit, a DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) was saved in memory in the DME (Engine Control Module), so even if you have normal running and NO SES upon restart, there is still a code saved in the DME that can be read to try to diagnose what happened. YOU want to be able to do that yourself, and if you can follow step-by-step instructions in a manual, you CAN do that.

For example, in your case, your problem MAY be a misfire in one or more cylinders (when were your plugs last changed?), and the rough running either goes away on its own in 30 to 60 seconds, or upon restart, and all you need is a plug change, which you may elect to do yourself ($50 for a new set of Bosch plugs). As further example, a misfire is indicated by a code in the range P0300 to P0306 for one or more cylinders, with the code number(s) identifying the affected cylinder, for instance P0306 being cylinder #6 (rear cylinder).

However, even a good tech/diagnostician would NOT presume to GUESS what the problem is without reading codes, so THAT is the starting point. If you have LOTS of $Money and no time, forget DIY. If you don't have EITHER time or money, you're doing something wrong. :rofl:

If you want to save $$, consider learning DIY with the help of this Forum. :)

George
 

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Although I have INPA (BMW-specific diagnostic software) on my laptop, I carry this $35 generic scan tool in my glovebox to read my own codes or those of ANY vehicle sold in the US since 1996:
https://www.amazon.com/Autel-AutoLin...el+al319&psc=1
George, does this actually have all of the BMW codes? Across all models and ECU's? I read the description and it wasn't clear.

I had the pleasure of teaching my non-car wife Carly, since she's alone with the 328 in CT. Very hard to do, though she got it. I use ISTA+ and INPA, but Carly's the one in her car.

If there a stone-simple reader than can give a BMW code readout, I'd love for her to have it. Just have her plug it in and get the codes so I can advise her what to do if there's a problem.

Opinions? Thanks!
 

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George, does this actually have all of the BMW codes? Across all models and ECU's? I read the description and it wasn't clear. I had the pleasure of teaching my non-car wife Carly, since she's alone with the 328 in CT. Very hard to do, though she got it. [Now THAT'S what I call a good marriage!] :thumbup: I use ISTA+ and INPA, but Carly's the one in her car.

If there a stone-simple reader than can give a BMW code readout, I'd love for her to have it. Just have her plug it in and get the codes so I can advise her what to do if there's a problem.
The short answer to your question as I understand it is NO. No P-code (standardized OBD II code) reader that I know of converts P-codes to BMW Fault Codes (although INPA shows BOTH). NOR will the Autel AL319 (low-priced generic code reader with Freeze Frame, Parameter, and Readiness Monitor reading capability) connect to any other module in the vehicle other than the DME (AFAIK).

However, my understanding is that when it comes to engine/DME fault codes, a P-code has a BMW FC equivalent and vice-versa. For example, P0301 = 29CD. If you had that code saved in your DME memory, the Autel would indicate you had a fault code stored, and when you selected "Read Codes," it would show P0301 on the screen, and give a short definition of that number, such as "misfire, cylinder #1." It does that on a BMW, a Toyota, Honda, Maserati, Buick, Chevy P/U with gunrack, etc. :) It will NOT, as INPA will, show BOTH 29CD AND P0301, but WHY do you need that?

Bentley provides BOTH codes in P-code numerical order, for example it shows for P0301:
"P0301 | 29CD | Cylinder 1 Misfire Detected"

There are even "Manufacturer Specific" P-codes that a generic P-code reader such as the AL319 can read, although it may NOT be able to provide a proper definition of that code on its screen, JUST the Code#.

I'm relatively new to Code reading, BMW or Standardized OBD II P-codes (having owned/maintained pre-OBD II Jaguars until last year). However my understanding and experience so far is that ALL manufacturers are supposed to provide a system that meets SAE standards for OBD II code reading, at least those codes related to proper engine operation and emissions compliance, and AFAIK, ANY Fault/Error that lights the SES light sets a code in the DME, which either the Autel or INPA can read, and will provide definition for.

There MAY be codes such as "Oil Wear Fault" in the Transmission or Transfer case modules that do NOT light the SES light, but are saved in memory. You need INPA or something like it to even KNOW you have codes, or read codes, in modules OTHER than the DME that have NOT set the SES light or caused other Instrument Cluster warning light. That's why I use INPA every 2-3 months to quickly tell me (using "Functional Jobs") if there are any Errors saved in ANY module.

So, in that context, the Autel AL319 is perfect for her use (or that of any "non-tech), particularly when you are a phone call away and can suggest next steps, or even fly up with your laptop & INPA if needed in a more-difficult diagnostic situation. Carly may be able to somewhat bridge the gap between the Autel & INPA, but as far as simply reading basic DTC's that cause the SES warning light to come on, I'd like to know from anyone who has Carly just what "code info" it can provide (at least to a "Non-tech") that the AL319 CANNOT.

My impression is that for those who are NOT "techs," the simplicity of use of something like the AL319 is preferable to something that tries to wow you with its "BMW capability" and as a result is more complicated to use. Also, for use on any BMW built since 1996, AND vehicles other than a BMW, this code reader provides ALL the basic ability to read codes, read Parameters, read Freeze Frame Data, Clear codes, and view Readiness Monitors.

I don't know anything about Carly, but what I HAVE heard about it on this forum makes me wonder if its salesmen create false impressions as to the basic capabilities of different scan tools and software. From what I know so far, it seems like the primary considerations are: (1) what modules can the tool connect to? and (2) what functions can the tool run in each module? AFAIK, the AL319 will ONLY connect to the DME, and it CANNOT read more than a few basic Parameters in that module. It CANNOT perform ANY Activations. It WILL (a) Read ALL P-codes (and probably U-codes or other codes save in DME); (b) Clear codes; (c) Read Freeze Frame data; (d) Read basic Parameters; (e) View Readiness Monitors. It WON'T Register a new battery. :rofl:

I attach the pdf Manual for the AL319

Anyone who has any questions, let me know,
George
 

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Yeah, she's pretty good and patient. 30 years married proves that ....

Interesting -- my ISTA+ has a screen that accepts both SAE and BMW code inputs, and spits out the relevant code interpretation. I could use it to explain SAE codes from a cheap reader in BMW-ese. Thanks, good tip.

So, probable that every SAE has a BMW correspondent. Not so probable the every BMW has a SAE, though. A full optioned E60 has 64 ECU's...and I'd be surprised if a Night Vision ECU code has an SAE equivalent.

I'll try pumping in a couple of oddball BMW ones and see what happens. Interesting test.

:thumbup:
 

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...A full optioned E60 has 64 ECU's...and I'd be surprised if a Night Vision ECU code has an SAE equivalent...
no-no-no... that's NOT what I'm saying. The Generic P-code reader like AL319 ONLY connects to the Engine ECU (DME) and in some cases to the A/T ECU (TCM). It is NOT capable of reading codes (in ANY language ;-) in other modules 'cuz it can't even connect with them.

BUTTT, that said, AFAIK, ANY code that causes an SES light has a generic P-code that the AL319 can read. As stated before, there are certain P-code number sequences that are reserved for "Manufacturer Specific codes, such as ANY code in the sequence between P1000 and P1999. I would NOT expect the generic code reader to provide a DEFINITION for those codes, but it should at least read the number saved in DME memory, and YOU can look up the code DEFINITION in ISTA, without being anywhere near the vehicle.

To get any meaningful insight from a code saved in a control module, you need to be able to:
1) Connect to that module;
2) Read a code number;
3) Have some reference (in the tool or otherwise) to get the code Definition.

Seems you have it covered, as far as codes saved in the DME. :rofl:

If my concepts are NOT correct, please advise,
George
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi George,

Thanks so much for your time, good will, and detailed reply. After calling 3 mechanics and receiving varying advice, I took the car in today. I have done minor work on my car myself, but after watching the YouTube videos on spark plug replacement, I didn't think feel confident in my skills or my toolbox. The problem was an ignition coil. There was the question of just replacing 1 or replacing all 6, which I debated, and ultimately chose to replace all 6. The car is 2006 with low miles. I plan to have it for a few more years, and I figure the chances that another ignition coil would go out were high. The labor charge was the same for replacing all 6, though obviously I spent a lot more on the replacement parts. Happy to hear what you would have done.

Thanks again, George and relative4 for your time and efforts to help out a stranger like me!
 
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