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What are diagnostic scans, and why do I need one?


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This is becoming a recurring topic among forum posters, so I've written this to avoid having to repeat myself!

What should I do if my BMW's dashboard problem light does not turn off?

If you are unable to resolve the issue, a diagnostic scan is the solution.

The engine light has returned, and I've just recently had the vehicle serviced?!

To effectively understand the codes, an OBD2 scan (or OBD 1 for pre-1995 vehicles) is required.

My automobile isn't operating properly, and I'm stumped as to what the issue may be. How should I proceed?

Request a diagnostic scan from a reputable local garage. Most will have the capability of scanning the great majority of BMWs. The cost should range from £25 to £40, depending on location and other considerations. Get a printout (if possible) or a handwritten note of the precise problem codes sent by the ECU and put them here.
It makes remotely assisting you much simpler...

I'm not sure...is it worthwhile to have one of these OBD diagnostic scans? My vehicle only runs poorly internally?!

Yes, indeed! The ECU saves fault codes when they are reported by different components on the vehicle during operation.
Even if your issue is intermittent, there is a significant probability that the ECU recorded an error code throughout the fault period, which may save you a lot of time and money.


To summarise, modern BMWs feature more sensors and computerised reporting systems, increasing the chance of a defect being detected.
With somewhat older vehicles...it is still a BMW, and as such, it is intelligent by nature! The trouble codes may be an excellent guide to resolving any issues with your vehicle.

Examples//
A malfunctioning ABS sensor that causes an ABS warning light to illuminate on your dashboard will notify the ECU, with many versions actually notifying the computer which sensor (which wheel) is at fault.

Your automobile is guzzling (expensive) petrol like there's no tomorrow. You're quite sure it wasn't always this horrible!!
What could it possibly be?

There is a strong likelihood that the Lambda sensor(s) (also known as the O2 sensor(s)) are to blame.
This will be recorded as a defect in the ECU and will confirm whether that is the issue.

This list will be expanded as time allows!

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You can obtain cheaper ones; simply for diagnostic basic and fault code reset range £80 to £130; plan B is Ebuy. My buddy has the "Snap-on" one, which is very good, runs on Windows, and even makes toast. However, it costs almost $2,000.
Good fortune.

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Hello, I'm new here and need some help.The battery in my 2003 x5 4.6is died while I was on vacation.After I charged the battery, it worked fine.Since then, the window wipers, the inside button for the central locking and the key fob don't work.do you have any ideas?

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I would suggest purchasing a K+DCAN cable from eBay and using it in conjunction with specialised software such as INPA to diagnose and reset faults. BMWs may occasionally register errors, even if they are not permanent. They could be electrical flaws that require resetting/erasing.

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I would suggest purchasing a K+DCAN cable from eBay and using it in conjunction with specialised software such as INPA to diagnose and reset faults. BMWs may occasionally register errors, even if they are not permanent. They could be electrical flaws that require resetting/erasing.

Edited by TDudette
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I was wondering whether anybody has used the BMW Software INPA. I just installed it, and it appears to function OK; I can see the error codes and so on. However, it also came with other unnecessary software, such as NCS Expert.
Please direct me to a lesson, guide, or user manual that explains how to use all of this equipment.

Am I just chasing my tail here, or might I truly utilise them to pinpoint the faulty component?
I appreciate it in advance.

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