Saturday 15 February 2014

E60: Second fault already... Front Parking-sensor!

How ironic! Just as I put paid to the E39's rear parking-sensor issue, a front sensor goes on the E60... they do seem to be temperamental little things those same sensor-units used from the E38 up until 2008 - they can be working fine one moment and then just fail over night!

 A few years ago one of my company directors had an E65 730Li, which started to spend a lot of time in our workshop under diagnostic. He blamed CANBUS issues and his symptoms were the car's electronics having a mind of their own, then as soon as one fault was rectified another would pop up straight away. I'm guessing the E60 uses the same technology as the E65, so can be forgiven for thinking mine might have the same issue seeing as the 'PDC' (parking-sensor) error came up the second I turned the key after fitting my new sidelight bulb...

Blown fuse?
The first thing to check, but mine wasn't blown and chances are yours won't be either, it's never the fuse with these BMW parking-sensors. The fuse is No. 21 in the glove-box, a green 30A.

Wet control-modules?
The sensors then fixed themselves for a day or two and then gave up completely, leading me to believe it was not just a failed bumper-unit. I hear on forums that intermittent PDC problems can be caused by a small amount of water being let in to the spare-wheel well while the boot is open and, without any drain holes, this can pool right where the PDC control-module is. Just a drop in the wrong place can cause erratic PDC behaviour and the module is fitted right at the bottom of here wheel-well, a bit of a design flaw, but it's only casually fixed in place on long wires so it's a good idea to move the module to a higher piece of ground somewhere else in the boot. I'll be putting up a guide for this as soon as I get round to it.

Broken sensor?
Yes. Those with vast experience tell me in 99.9% of these cases it's simply one of the bumper-sensors has thrown its hand in over night, which renders the entire system inoperable, as they work in a sort of daisy-chain. The only way to check which sensor is at fault is to kneel down at the front and rear of the car and put your ear to each sensor. As they work on a sonar principle the working sensors should emit a (pretty loud when your close) clicking sound. When you find the one that isn't clicking, that's your duff sensor - a lot easier than plugging the car into a diagnostic! 
Sure enough, all my sensors were clicking away save for one - the front driver's-side centre one, ironically one that happens to be located under the headlight I removed to sort the parking-light issue, so I can perhaps see what happened there. It's too much of a coincidence for that sensor to fail right at that point in time, so it looks like I've disturbed something or allowed water into the back of the sensor somehow. I gave the wires to the sensor a good wiggle and traced them back to the loom, but still nothing, so got straight onto eBay and bought a replacement sensor. It's pre-painted in Titan-silver, having been pulled off an '04 E60 and was £33 delivered. This was a bit more than the E39 sensor, but I know it's the right part and it's still a lot cheaper than the £125 from BMW, plus the 2-3 week wait and fitting charge.


For Front-Centre Sensors:

** This couldn't be easier. The official procedure and internet forums recommend removing the 'bumper-skin' to replace the middle-front sensors, which is basically the whole bumper. This is totally unnecessary! You can get to them through the lower grille and don't need to have tiny hands or be double-jointed. This is for non-M-sport bumpers, I assume the larger mesh-grille on M-sport models is attached from behind and would need the bumper to come off, but if it is detachable then this would be even easier. **

1. Remove the black plastic grille-bars from the lower grille by unclipping the horizontal bar from the lug at either side. This is done by lifting the bar and pulling it forward. The vertical bars simply pop off.

2. Reach into the grille aperture and up towards the corresponding sensor, you will feel the wires about 5-inches up.

3. Remove the wire-connector by pressing in the clip at either side and the plug should easily wiggle off.

4. Remove the parking-sensor from its mount by wiggling it from behind and slowly pulling it towards the rear of the car. At the same time, gently apply pressure to the exterior-face of the sensor with your thumb. Once it is about 2mm into the bumper it should slide out easily.

5. Push in the new sensor from behind, ensuring it is the right way up - that is with the single small lug and wire connector at the top (12 o'clock) - then plug the wiring connector back in and replace the grille-bars.

For Front-Corner Sensors:

1. Remove the headlight that is above the corresponding parking-sensor by referring to Steps 1-6 of THIS GUIDE.

2. The parking-sensor is located just beneath the outer corner of the headlight and is easily accessible from above. Refer to steps 3, 4 and 5 of the above guide to replace.

Saturday 8 February 2014

E60: First Fault - Parking-Light Bulb

Got a lovely polyphonic chime last Sunday, one week exactly after buying the car. The iDrive showed a failure on the front o/s parking-light (sidelight), the angel-eyes basically. Seemed a bit weird that the bulb would fail so suddenly so I wiggled the wire connector with no joy. The standard headlight model E60s (non-LCI) use normal 501 capless bulbs for the angel-eyes and are just an easy swap. With the optional xenon headlights though, as mine features, the bulb swap is not so simple.

The part you need, above, is a very rare fitment bulb peened in to a ridiculous holder / lens. These are bought from BMW for £25 +VAT, but when I rang up from work to get same-day delivery they said it would need ordering specially and takes 2-3 days anyway, so I reverted back to eBay, where I got the part, BOSCH/Hella, so is OEM and only cost £23.99 with NextDay delivery included. I also got a feedback so that was a no-brained really, online part prices seem to be killing motor-factors lately.

The bulb and holder location is near impossible to work out without knowing what you're looking for, as it is one bulb powering both angel-eye rings, unlike the non-xenon headlights which have one small bulb for each ring. The single xenon angel-eye bulb is located at the inner-side of the headlight unit, behind the smaller round plastic-cap. Getting to it without removing the headlight is all but impossible, unless you have the most double-jointed hands ever, so just pop the headlight out. An official service-guide recommends dropping the front bumper to get the headlight out freely, but this is not essential and will quadruple the length of the job! With a bit of wiggling the headlight can be worked out without damaging the grille or wing.

Process: (For Xenon-headlight equipped cars)

1. Remove the round plastic-cap from the inner-side of the headlight back by gently pressing it anti-clockwise with a screwdriver a short turn and carefully extracting it through the gap.

2. Remove the two bolts holding the top of the headlight in place using a T35 Torx socket. The bolts are located on the headlight bracket on either corner.

3. Remove the two screws holding the bottom of the headlight using an 8mm socket with a long extension-bar. The screws are found just behind the lower corners of the headlight-back, right at the bottom. Dropping these into the lower-tray is annoying, so it's best to use a magnet-on-a-stick to retrieve them rather than extracting them in the socket.

4. Wiggle the headlight unit free from its mount and work it forward out of huge body. Start by moving out the outer-side a small amount and then begin to work the inner-corner away from the centre-grille. The outer-side should then pop out.

5. Remove the main wiring-connector from the headlight unit by sliding the sides of the clip down on either side until it ejects the wiring-connector plug, which should then pull out easily. If it doesn't, the sides of the clip need to go down further.

6. Remove the smaller wiring-connector from below the main connector-plug by pressing the clips in either side and pulling it back.

7. The parking-light bulb/holder is located in the small round aperture, which the cap is already off, right at the bottom - the holder is gold/orange in colour. Using two-fingers rotate the bulb-holder anti-clockwise 1/8-turn, or carefully use a screwdriver. The holder should now easily pull back out of its mount.

8. Use the wires to the bulb-holder to rotate it and pull it out of the headlight unit, wired-end first past the other bulb-holder.

9. Pull the wire-connector out of the old bulb-holder, plug in the new one reverse the process to refit.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Trip to collect the E60...

From being the proud owner of two awesome Bavarians, in the space of a week I went down to having none and the last couple of days of Beemer-frei living were long and fraught. I was surprised at the revvy eagerness of the 1.2 Clio I had use of, but that's all, so when the day came to collect the E60 I was up mighty early and getting ready... Just as well as my train left from Liverpool at 8.30am!

The ticket was only £36.50, but the Liverpool - London Virgin train took 3 hours instead of the usual 2. It was then two different Tubes to Liverpool Street Station in London where I hitched a Greater Anglia train out to east Essex, which was another hour, making it about 5 hours travel in total.

When I walked out of Manningtree station I was so relieved to see the E60 waiting for me. The car was exactly as described and after a 2 minute once-over in the rain I drove the guy, John, back to his house and signed the logbook over. All in all the deal took half an hour. Perfect.

12.09PM London Liverpool Street, my ultra-whistlestop tour of the capital after over 3 hours travel and 2 Virgin breakfasts.
10 minutes later the Greater Anglia train leaves for Essex, but just enough time to grab a large Burger King meal.
12.33PM - Heading out of London, the Gherkin etc. 
Canary Wharf, heading east through Hackney, I think.

1.30PM - Manningtree Station, north-east Essex. Last quaint stop before Norwich.
4.20PM - 150 miles nearer home in Corley Services, Warwickshire. I just had to stop for a wee and a KFC.
But not for fuel. I still had just over half a tank left and only another 100 miles to cover, provided by John of course, a nice deal sweetener.