Monday 31 August 2015

iDrive Safety Systems Disabled faults explained - Codes, Causes + Fixes.

It's a common event - you start up the BMW one day and suddenly get an iDrive warning saying there is a fault and all the airbags have been turned off. This now greets you every time you start up and both the airbag and seatbelt warning lights stay on the dash permanently, which is an MOT fail. Safety is paramount, so before you head towards a dealer and a huge bill take note that it is hardly ever a faulty part and is far more likely to be a false alarm thrown up by an overkill safety system!

This is an issue I have begun to encounter when working on my E60 530d, particularly when disturbing wiring inside the car and refitting trim, though most cases occur during day to day use and abuse of the interior. It applies to all iDrive equipped and LCI BMWs. The safety system, comprising the multiple airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and other devices are all linked into the CANBUS system and have sensors everywhere. If the slightest malfunction is detected anywhere in the safety system, the iDrive shuts it all down assuming that it has prevented a faulty airbag going off at random, when more often than not something has just happened to disturb a sensor for a split-second. There are sensors in the dash, doors, pillars, under the seats, even in the boot, so items getting jammed in places and maltreatment of the interior is the likely culprit. Sadly, once the iDrive warning is up then it's there to stay until reset using a trouble-code scanner. If you have access to one of these then life with this iDrive warning is a breeze - pretty much any one will do, even £20 eBay items like or ones that connect to your iPhone like iOBD. The system is so complex and temperamental that garages will replace expensive parts as a matter of course and there are multiple cases on Bimmer-Forums etc. where this hasn't fixed the fault and a simple workaround has, so if you don't have a scanner at least you can increase your chances of the warning being cancelled quickly and avoid getting ripped off if a trouble-code persists.

SFZ: Satellite Vehicle Centrum

9AFF - Resistance firing circuit safety battery terminal too high
  • Low battery voltage: Has battery been allowed to run low? / Has a lot of diagnostics been done on the car recently? - Charge / replace battery.
  • Battery has moved in boot: Ensure battery is bolted down and not going to move around. Check battery live terminal is secure, well on the stud and not twisted or jammed against something.
  • Wire connector is loose: Check fitment of sensor wire connector next to battery live terminal. If apparently OK, wiggle wire connector, delete fault-code and see if it comes back - if not, secure wire connector with tape / cable-tie.
  • Battery live-terminl under tension: Is red live wire to battery snagged and tugging on terminal / are any auxiliary wires connected to battery live-terminal - make sure wires to terminal are slack and have plenty of room / re-tighten the battery live-terminal at a better angle for the U-shaped live wire. [In my case the power lead to my aftermarket amplifier was trapped under the trim and was tugging on the live-terminal when something heavy was put on the boot floor.]
This is most common safety system fault and there is much discussion of it online. The cable / sensor is difficult / costly to replace, so if none of the above work there is a tried and tested bypass method, guides for which can be found here -

Satellite B-Pillar Right:
  • Has wiring under the steering-cowl been disturbed?
Satellite B-Pillar Left:
  • Has wiring behind the glove-box / round the passenger fuse-box / in the passenger footwell.
There is no reason these sensors should fail without being damaged and will usually be a one-off fault and be easily cancelled with an OBD scanner.

Seat Pad Occupancy Sensors:

  • Has the seat squab been impacted or had weight in one area? i.e people climbing on seats.

This is often a one-off fault code event from disturbed wires and will be quickly cancelled with a scanner, however the seat-pad sensor is prone to damage, especially from impact to the seat. This can be bypassed to avoid replacing parts, see here -

Seatbelt Pre-tensioners:

98E2 Interruption detonation circuit (seat belt tensioner right)
9862 Interruption detonation circuit (seat belt tensioner left)
  • Is something jammed under the seat?
This can be disturbed wires again and easily cancelled, but it can also be a broken seatbelt pre-tenioner, so to avoid the ludicrous cost of replacing these there are various bypass techniques for bypassing them, such as here -

Monday 24 August 2015

E60: Horrible dash rattle - loose Strut Brace.

If there is a loud rattle from behind the dash on your E60, the sound of two plastic surfaces creaking against each other like tectonic-plates, or a cracking noise that sounds like the windscreen is flexing, then the strut-brace is loose. 

This is the alloy bar that bolts across the front suspension turrets and also to the firewall in the middle, which cuts down on chassis-flex as the front wheels move around. The E39 didn't have one and the E60 doesn't need one, but it's there and if one of the bolts come even slightly loose then it produces a rattle inside the dashboard like no other. It is not easily identifiable as a loose component in the engine-bay by ear as the noise is so internal and you may find yourself, as I did, spending forever adjusting panel fit inside the dashboard and cable-tying wire connectors with no joy. Rest assured it is a loose bolt on the strut-brace.

The problem is steel bolts going into alloy threads on the strut-tops, which become loose easier and are more prone to damage if overtightened or the strut-brace is removed and refitted a lot. BMW are aware of the problem and they're official fix is detailed in this PDF [], but they will charge a premium for this and probably replace the brace.

The strut-brace attaches in three places, with two bolts in the centre joining the firewall and one either side on the strut-tops. They have E10 double-hex heads. Two of my four bolts were loose - one of the centre ones, which just kept spinning and needed coaxing out, and the O/S strut-top. This would get near tight then skip and go finger-loose again. The strut-brace was so loose this side that it could be moved around by hand at the end with the bolt in place.

Quick Repair Options:

  • Heli-coil - This is the recommended or 'pro' way. You can get a hell-coil kit for £10-£20 and it basically winds a new stainless-steel thread into the old one so the original bolt tightens straight back in.
  • Drill out and re-thread - This is cheaper and dirtier as it just involves boring out the hole with the damaged thread to a larger size and using a die to re-thread it to accept a larger bolt. This is what I did, drilling the offending hole in the O/S strut-top out to 9.5mm and threading it using an M10 tap. I then used a short M10 bolt (17mm) with a large knurled collar to keep that end of the brace nice and tight.

This did NOT fix the rattle?

If you're strut-brace is not loose and the noise is still there then it could be two other things:
  • Axial tie-rod / Track-rod end failing - Yes, when the axial tie-rod / track-rod ends start to fail it does produce a rattling / cracking noise from behind the dash, just like a loose strut-brace. No one would ever guess this defect would make this sound where it occurs, but there you go. I suspect this was the cause of the rattle in my E60 after all, though never had chance to replace the part before I sold it and the guys buying it both agreed the noise was something steering-rack related. 
  • Loose trim - If the sound is definitely originating behind the dash then loose trim or structure is likely your culprit, though this is quite rare. E60s use alloy design and the body absorbs a lot of flex, so when stuff behind the dash does become loose the sound is amplified in the cabin. I am sure when this does happen, every case is different so there is probably a lot written about it online. Best of luck tracking it down. 

This is a common fault and there is plenty of information on the forums:

Sunday 23 August 2015

E60: Blocked Washer-Pump - Quick Fix.

No water from windscreen washer-jets? Chances are it's a blockage in the pump filter. This is not a difficult job, rather a very easy one, so avoid unnecessary cost and fix it quickly yourself.

Check Fuse: 
Fuse 18 is the corresponding fuse. If the washer pump is dead and making no noise then this is the first thing to check. If it is still making a whining noise, then you have a blocked pump-filter.

** The headlamp washer system only functions when the headlights / sidelights are turned on. **


Windscreen Washer System:

** The washer bottle is located just in front of the N/S (passenger) wheel-arch liner. The filler-neck is just behind the N/S headlamp and you can see the hose go down into the bodywork and rise up to where the tank is. The tank CANNOT be accessed from above, even when the headlamp is removed. It is much easier to peel the arch-liner back and work from inside the wheel-arch. **

** Obviously water will spill out of the washer bottle so just allow it to drain. **

1. Remove the 3 screws from the N/S/F plastic wheel-arch liner circled in the photo so that it can be peeled back out of the arch rim, one on the near edge, one along the bottom and one by the brake air-duct. It helps to turn the wheel full-lock one way or the other to give more room.

2. Gently pull the washer-jet hose connector off the spout on the side of the windscreen washer-pump. [It's the smaller grey one, furthest away in photo].

3. Reach in and grip the windscreen washer-pump, then gently turn it from side to side while lifting it upwards until the spout on the pump is free of the tank [it may need tilting towards the wheel to get out].

4. Unplug the wire-connector from the pump by depressing the clip on either side and sliding it upwards. The pump can now be removed from inspection if necessary. [Alternatively, leave the wiring connected and place the pump somewhere out of the way].

5. Gently prise the rubber base the pump sits in upwards out of it's collar in the tank, being careful not to detach the plastic-filter from below it and have it drop into the tank.

6. Remove the white plastic filter from the rubber piece and give it a good clean. [It's usually congealed screen-wash clogging it as in the photo, rather than detritus].

7. Refit the plastic filter to the bottom of the rubber base and carefully lower it vertically back into the tank.

8. Refit the pump as a reversal of steps 4 to 1.

Sticky residue wrapped right around the filter-gauze
had stopped flow into the pump completely.

Headlamp Washer System:
The process is the same for the larger headlamp washer pump, though the hose-connector at the bottom in the second photo is sturdier and needs the clip pushing up from undernath to slide the hose off.

Headlamp washer has a much bigger filter, I guess to get more
water into the bigger pump and higher pressure spray.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Vehicle Electrical System - Terminals + Abbreviations

Energy diagnosis: Terminal control

The terminal control is distributed across various control units. The following block diagram provides an overview of the control units involved and the integration in the vehicle electrical system.

JBE Junction Box Electronics
SV Distribution box from the Junction box
CAS Car Access System
RAD2 Radio 2 (depends on level of equipment)
M-ASK Multi Audio System Controller (depends on level of equipment)
CCC Car Communication Computer (depends on level of equipment)
DME Digital Engine Electronics
DDE Digital Diesel Electronics
IBS Intelligent battery sensor (depends on level of equipment)
K-CAN SYSTEM Bus system for body functions
MOST Bus system in the area of audio and communication (depends on level of equipment)
PT-CAN Bus system for power train and chassis functions

There are the following terminals:

Terminal 30:

Terminal 30 is routed from the battery terminal via the safety battery terminal to the front distribution box. As soon as the battery is connected to the terminals, terminal 30 is live. Terminal 30 is at approx. 40 fuses of the distribution box.

Control units supplied by terminal 30:

AL Active steering (up to model year 03/2005)
AHM Trailer module (up to model year 03/2007)
CA Car Access System
CDC CD changer (up to model year 09/2006)
DME Digital Engine Electronics
DDE Digital Diesel Electronics
DWA Antitheft Alarm System
EGS Gearbox control (up to model year 03/2005)
EPS Electromechanical power steering
EKP Electric fuel pump (up to model year 03/2005)
FRM Footwell module
FZD Roof Function Centre
JBE Junction Box Electronics
KOMBI Instrument cluster (up to model year 03/2007)
MRS5 Multiple restraint system
SH Independent heating (up to model year 03/2005)
SMBF Passenger seat module (up to model year 09/2006)
SMFA Driver seat module (up to model year 09/2006)
SMG Sequential manual gearbox (up to model year 03/2005)
SZL Steering column switch cluster

Terminal 30g:
Terminal 30g is controlled by the CAS. When the overall vehicle is wakened by an operation of the user, terminal 30g is switched on. Terminal 30g is automatically switched off after a codable after-run time (e.g. 30 minutes). The after-run time starts with the event terminal R Off. As in the case of terminal 15, a relay in the distribution box is activated by the CAS via a semiconductor switch. The relay of terminal 30g switches the battery voltage to approx. 18 fuses in the distribution box.

Control units supplied by terminal 30g:

ACC Active cruise control
AL Active steering (as of model year 09/2005)
AMP Amplifiers
CDC CD changer (as of model year 12/2004)
CID Central Information Display
CON Controller
CVM Convertible top module
DSC Dynamic Stability Control
DAB Digital tuner
EGS Gearbox control (as of model year 09/2005)
EKP Electric fuel pump (as of model year 09/2005)
IHKA Integrated automatic heating and air conditioning system
IHKR Integrated heating / air conditioning regulation
IHR Integrated heater control
LDM Longitudinal dynamics management
RAD Radio
RAD2 Radio 2
TPM Tyre Pressure Monitor
SDARS Satellite tuner
SH Independent heating (as of model year 09/2005)
SHD Panorama glass roof (E91)
SMBF Passenger seat module (as of model year 03/2007)
SMFA Driver seat module (as of model year 03/2007)
SMG Sequential manual gearbox (as of model year 09/2005)
TCU Telematic Control Unit (except US version)
ULF Universal charging and hands-free unit
ULF-SBX Interface box
ULF-SBX-H Interface box High
VM Video module
VTG Transfer Box

Terminal 30g-f:

Terminal 30g-f is a terminal 30 that is only switched off of faults are detected.

Terminal 30g-f only exists if a bistable relay is fitted. The relay is not visibly arranged in the distribution box. As a rule, the bistable relay is only fitted together with the IBS. On vehicles with CCC, M-ASK or independent heating, a relay of this kind is fitted. On some equipment variants with TCU, a bistable relay is also fitted.
On vehicles without terminal 30g-f, the corresponding fuses are supplied with terminal 30g.

The JBE controls terminal 30g-f via a bistable relay in the distribution box. The bistable relay can be switched off or on. As a rule, the bistable relay is always switched on. The bistable relay has two relay coils and it always remains in the last state activated (switched on or switched off).

The following three faults exist in which terminal 30g-f is switched off: Up to model year 09/2006:

1. As of approx. 60 minutes terminal R off, the DME/DDE starts a closed-circuit current measurement using the IBS. When the DME/DDE determines a closed-circuit current fault, this wakes up the vehicle and sends a message for cutoff of terminal 30g-f. The JBE receives the message and switches the bistable relay off.
Increased closed-circuit current due a switched-on auxiliary consumer unit is not a closed-circuit current fault for the DME/DDE. Nonetheless, terminal 30g-f is switched off even if the starting capability limit is reached. The command for cutoff of terminal 30g-f is also issued in this case by the DME/DDE. 
2. As of terminal R off, the JBE monitors whether the vehicle is able to go into the idle state. The vehicle can only enter the idle state when all the control units are ready for this. If not all control units have signalled this readiness approx. 30 minutes, the JBE switches terminal 30g-f off. The JBE also stores all the control units in the energy history memory that have not signalled readiness for the idle state.
3. A few minutes after terminal R off, the vehicle has normally switched into the idle state. As of the idle state, the JBE counts how often the vehicle is wakened. The JBE switches terminal 30g-f off when a vehicle has been wakened unexpectedly more than 30 time with terminal R off. The JBE also stores the maximum number of waking events in the energy history memory.

As of model year 03/2007:

1. If an IBS is fitted, the power management in the DME/DDE monitors the closed-circuit current and the battery status. If the battery charge state is close to the starting capability limit, the vehicle is wakened and a message to reset or shut down terminal 30g-f is sent. The JBE regulates the bi-stable relay accordingly.
2. If the vehicle is wakened too often after shutdown of terminal 30g, the JBE switches terminal 30g-f off for approx. 10 seconds (reset). If the vehicle is still wakened after the reset, terminal 30g-f is switched off permanently until the next terminal change (shutdown).
3. If the vehicle does not go to sleep after shutdown of terminal 30g, the JBE switches terminal 30g-f off for approx. 10 seconds (reset). If the vehicle still does not go to sleep after the reset, terminal 30g-f is switched off permanently until the next terminal change (shutdown).

In all cases of cutoff, a fault is entered in the JBE. The cutoff of terminal 30g-f is independent of what triggered the detected fault. The cutoff is only an attempt to remedy the fault in the vehicle and prevent it from not starting. The cutoff of terminal 30g-f does not necessarily mean that there was a fault in a consumer unit of terminal 30g-f.

The switch-on condition for terminal 30g-f is switching on terminal R. For this reason, with terminal R or terminal 15, terminal 30g-f is always switched on.

Control units supplied by terminal 30g-f:

AHM Trailer module (as of model year 09/2007)
CA Comfort Access (as of model year 03/2007)
CCC Car Communication Computer
CNAV Navigation system China
JNAV Japan navigation system
KNAV Navigation system Korea
KOMBI Instrument cluster (as of model year 09/2007)
M-ASK Multi Audio System Controller
TCU Telematic Control Unit
(only US version)

Terminal 15:
Control of terminal 15 is by the CAS depending on operation of the start/stop button (with the key inserted in the key slot). 
The gearshift mechanism of terminal 15 is switched in the CAS via semiconductor switch. A relay in the distribution box is activated via the output of a semiconductor switch. The relay switches the voltage of the battery to approx. 7 fuses in the distribution box. The consumer units of terminal 15 are essentially supplied from here.

Control unit supplied by terminal 15:

FLA High beam headlight assistant
PDC Park distance control

For safety reasons, some control units have a terminal 15 line directly from CAS, e.g. the FRM (footwell module).

Terminal 87:

The DME/DDE controls terminal 87 via a relay in the E-box. Terminal 87 is switched on as soon as terminal 15 is switched on. After terminal 15 has been switched off, terminal 87 is switched off by the DME/DDE with a slight delay.

No control units are supplied by terminal 87.

Terminal R:

Terminal R is not present as a hardware terminal. The status of terminal R is only communicated from CAS via the bus systems.

Thursday 6 August 2015

E46 Clubsport: Loss of coolant... split radiator!

The Clubsport is starting to become a bit 'whatever next' lately. Amidst the other post new year jobs I forgot to mention the coolant expansion-tank that sits next to the radiator had swelled and split down one side, so a new one was duly fitted.
Last week the sudden loss of coolant returned, with the puddle in the same place under the radiator, but no visible sign of a leak. Nath assumed it to be the radiator-cap, so we pressure tested it in work and it's fine. Then we pressurised the rest of the cooling system and this is what we found - the radiator has burst along the top. A new radiator is going straight in, but the fact remains that something is still pressurising the cooling system and needs to get sorted.

Sunday 2 August 2015

E60: Glow plugs + control-module - time to sort this.

I mentioned the glow plugs in this post, but have had no change in the error codes coming up for all 6. These are the last remaining fault codes that have not been ironed out since February so I thought I'd get into it in more detail now I have DIS at my disposal, which finally threw up an error for the glow plug control-module [though it wouldn't say for sure], so it's almost certain this is the fault. I read a lot of people mentioning the 'relay' on forums, but this is referring to the same part.

The control-modue is about £75 on eBay for an OEM part made by Beru, which isn't too bad. The inlet-manifold will have to come off again so I am tempted to replace all 6 glow plugs at the same time just to make sure. I do, after all, have a M57NTU2 cylinder-head lying around with 6 nearly new plugs in so it won't cost anything and seems to be a no brainer, though I am terrified of one of the current plugs will break and get stuck in my good engine.

The original scan with Autocom CDP+ only showed errors for all six glow plugs [codes 4212, 4222, 4232, 4242, 4252, 4262]. All of them were intermittent and had failed at the same times, 31 out of 40 starts. I got INPA running, which is BMW only software and read the correct DDE version 5.x instead of the 6.x forced on me by Autocom and showed correct values for the injectors, yet it just showed the same errors for all 6 glow plugs.
When I eventually got DIS up and running it threw up a fault for the glow plug control-module itself [Glow control B1362_D5BSDGSG], but with no fault-code and even after running pre-heating tests on the glow plug system [battery float-charger came in handy here] it still could not say the control-module was
definitely faulty. Instead it suggested a 'break in all lines to heater-plugs', which is seriously unlikely and after checking them in May there was no sign of this at all; and a failure in the supply of voltage at Terminal 30. Terminal 30 it turns out just means constant battery power and I tested this at the control-module socket with a solid 12v, so it would seem beyond all logical doubt that the module itself is failing intermittently somehow.

As for how the control-module could have failed is open to debate, as it was only removed from the old engine for a short time before being fitted to the new one, not moved around and stored. Its location, right under the coolant return hose from the head means water could have spilled over the control-module at some points during the swirl-flap repair and the constant 12v supply made the module live whenever the battery was connected. In fact, as I was in such a rush to get the head back off and find the oil leak [here] I ended up draining the coolant from the return hose first, rather than fully draining the coolant from the radiator. This allowed water/coolant to run down the right side of the engine and over the starter-motor, EGR-solenoid, glow-plug controller and main wiring junction-box, which by any account was a bad thing to do. Yet, had this shorted the live wire of the module or individual plugs to ground then it would only render them inoperable temporarily and not cause damage to the units themselves. If water had got inside the sealed module or caused some sort of overload, then that would have been pretty final and I can't see how the module would work at all after that.
Both the glow plugs and control-module are the same part number throughout the entire E60 and LCI range. The design was revised for the control-module in 2005 and this is the only part available now [12217801201] and replaces the old design [12217788327]. This is largely irrelevant anyway, as both my original and 2004 replacement engine share the old part.
It could simply be the sooty condition of the new engine when I first fitted it, too much entering the inlet, or just the age of the plugs that caused my original module to work harder than it's used to and start to fail. Either way I will replace it in due course and hope it clears the 6 glow plug errors, as it has for most people on the forums.

E46 Clubsport: Quick rev and exhaust burble...

Quick rev of the CS as we stave off real work by fiddling with Beemers. It finally has that proper vanos whoosh and exhaust note, though there is still a bit of a misfire / bogging down under acceleration and no fault codes are coming up on Autocom GDP, but DIS will find something and I will post the results. Shame, as this is delaying that front bumper splitter...