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Old 03-06-2008, 06:00 AM   #1
tim330i
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Check Engine Lights - Unraveling the diagnostic mystery with Tools from BimmerTools.

Don't Panic!
If you've ever seen the "Check Engine" or "Service Engine Soon" light displayed on your instrument cluster, you've experienced a portion of your car's diagnostic system at work. Your first reaction may be to panic or to get frustrated. Is it a big problem, or something insignificant that can be attended to later? Guessing about - or asking other people to guess about it - isn't worth the time it took you to read this sentence. There are literally hundreds of possible causes for the warning to occur, and the only way to determine them is with the use of a diagnostic tool.

Stop Guessing!
When a problem or fault triggers a Check Engine/Service Engine Soon warning light, the computer also generates a fault code. This functionality is not unique to BMWs. In fact, all cars sold in the US produced after 1996 were required to have a diagnostic system to let inspectors and service professionals track emissions related problems. This system is called OBDII (On Board Diagnostics, second generation). Contained within this system is a set of parameters to be monitored and the corresponding fault codes. These government-mandated codes are generic, and any OBDII reader (like those used by auto parts stores) will read them.

OBDII codes definitely serve a purpose, but their generic and emissions related focus could leave a lot to be desired. This is especially true for BMWs, whose complex systems require high tolerance conditions for peak performance. If one of the hundreds of monitored sensors detects an out-of-range value, the car's computer wants to alert you that things are not perfect. This information is not necessarily what the OBDII system is designed to communicate.

BMW Specific Codes vs. OBDII - What's The Difference?
In addition to the required OBD system, your BMW - and in fact ALL BMWs as old as 1987 - maintains its own, factory-programmed and BMW-specific diagnostic system. The parameters monitored by this system extend beyond emissions related faults, and their corresponding codes translate to EXACTLY what the factory wants the technicians to know. While some fault codes will overlap with OBDII codes, many will not. Many more will be more descriptive/accurate than the corresponding OBDII offering.

More importantly, there are some fault codes that OBDII will simply not read. For example, in a review of codes for one specific model (2000 323i) there are more than twenty-five BMW Specific codes that are simply NOT REPRESENTED by the generic OBDII system. This is common for most models. Therefore, by relying on the readings from a generic OBDII tool, you are potentially missing important information.

Because of these gaps, as well as codes that are potentially less accurate, BMW service centers and technicians do not use OBDII tools to diagnose problems. They solely rely on the factory programmed, BMW specific fault codes.

Code Tools from Peake Research - The Right Tool For The Job
Don't want to go to the dealer or BMW technician? You can read the factory programmed, BMW specific codes with an affordable, easy to use tool. Peake Research has been making code tools that connect directly to the BMW factory diagnostic system for nearly twenty years. Their tools are the industry-standard hand-held, BMW specific code readers. These are NOT generic OBDII tools, and they will only work on BMWs. Quite simply - the Peake tools are built specifically for YOUR CAR; OBDII tools ARE NOT.

Why Trust Chain Auto Parts Stores to Diagnose Your BMW?
Some people try to save money by opting for a "free" scan at a local auto parts store. These stores use generic OBDII tools, not BMW specific readers. Even if the tool they use presents "Manufacturer Specific" codes, these are simply extended OBDII codes - not the accurate, factory programmed codes your Peake tool will read. The kid at the store doesn't know your BMW - Peake Research does.

Peake Tools - Convenient, Easy to Connect, and Easy to Use
Small enough to fit in your glove box, Your Peake tool will be ready to read codes when you need it. The process couldn't be easier! Simply connect the tool to your car's diagnostic port (cars older than '01 have the port under the hood, newer than '01 use the 16 pin port under the dash), set the key, and press the button. Directions are even printed on the body of the tool! With only two buttons - one to cycle through functions and one to "go" - a proper diagnosis is at your fingertips.

The codes are revealed with a short series of digits - numbers and letters that actually instruct you where to look in the code manual, then which code to look up. With that information, you have the ability to intelligently decide your next course of action. Whether you choose to seek a professional mechanic's help or tackle the job yourself, it all starts with the most accurate information a hand-held scan tool can offer.

Which Peake Tool is Right For You?
If your BMW was built between 1987 and 2006, there is a Peake Tool that's made for your car. Two basic models - one for engine codes and one for airbag codes - each come in two varieties; one for older cars, one for newer.

Selecting the right tool is very easy - check out your options on Bimmertool's diagnostic tool page - www.bmwscantools.com.

Bimmertools.com Specializes in Tools from Peake Research
Why wait for your engine light to come on? Be ready for it with your own BMW Specific fault code reader NOW. Bimmertools.com is ready to take your order today. With pricing well below retail, and FREE Priority Shipping for all domestic Peake tool orders, you can't go wrong.

If you have questions about the Peake tools' functionality, applications, or which tools are right for you, Bimmertools.com can answer them. You can browse their Peake tool selection at www.bmwscantools.com, or contact them via their exclusive Concierge Service found on the website. Ken at Bimmertools is also easily reached by email - ken@bimmertools.com.



Credit to Peake Research for technical information
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:05 AM   #2
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The only problem with the peak tool is that it reads as a chain (like other OBD's) if a problem is detected by the the computer it triggers other faults causing guessing (like Dominoes). When one fault is detected a chain reaction is caused that no tool can specifically diagnose. So the peak tool is not the perfect tool to read "check engine lights". Peak cannot gurantee that it can diagnose the exact problem it only narrows it "less" than a auto parts store. All I am saying is be careful what you here about the "perfect tool". I will wait for the gurantee before I buy a reader.
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:11 PM   #3
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What about cars made from 2002-current? is there a tool for those?
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnatalie View Post
The only problem with the peak tool is that it reads as a chain (like other OBD's) if a problem is detected by the the computer it triggers other faults causing guessing (like Dominoes). When one fault is detected a chain reaction is caused that no tool can specifically diagnose. So the peak tool is not the perfect tool to read "check engine lights". Peak cannot gurantee that it can diagnose the exact problem it only narrows it "less" than a auto parts store. All I am saying is be careful what you here about the "perfect tool". I will wait for the gurantee before I buy a reader.
That makes no sense. The tool doesn't pretend to diagnose the problem, just display the fault code. Without the code you have no real place to start without guessing. This gives you the same starting point as the dealer. What you do with the codes is still up to you.
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Arsevader View Post
That makes no sense. The tool doesn't pretend to diagnose the problem, just display the fault code. Without the code you have no real place to start without guessing. This gives you the same starting point as the dealer. What you do with the codes is still up to you.

i dont get what he means either, saying that it will cause other codes?
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:31 AM   #6
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I'm not sure I follow the assertions made above. The diagnostic system generates codes in response to faults being detected. These faults are stored until they are read and erased. A fault code will not 'trigger' other fault codes unless the ECU detects an issue.

The Peake tool reads the BMW-Specific codes, and generic OBDII tools read the generic, government mandated codes that were not intended to be used for diagnostics. For BMW owners trying to simply diagnose a problem as indicated by a check engine light, the Peake tool is the proper choice. No one is claiming that the tool will do any diagnosing itself - it just presents the basic facts. How that information is applied is up to the user.

Please email me directly if there are any questions about these toolls: ken@bimmertools.com
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:33 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bimmerguy82 View Post
What about cars made from 2002-current? is there a tool for those?
The current selection of Peake tools (As of this post date)
R5-FCX3 - BMW engine codes for '87-'06
R5-SRS - BMW airbag codes for '94-'03
R5-EMX - Mini engine codes

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Old 03-10-2009, 09:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by tim330i View Post
If one of the hundreds of monitored sensors detects an out-of-range value, the car's computer wants to alert you that things are not perfect.

The parameters monitored by this system extend beyond emissions related faults, and their corresponding codes translate to EXACTLY what the factory wants the technicians to know.

there are some fault codes that OBDII will simply not read.

You can read the factory programmed, BMW specific codes - the Peake tools are built specifically for YOUR CAR.

Peake Tools - Convenient, Easy to Connect, and Easy to Use
Can be kept in the glove box so it's there for instant diagnosis if you get a fault away from home (and can be used quicker than you could even boot your laptop)

Also your car may store fault codes in memory. Sometimes intermittent codes are stored temporarily (until a certain number of fault-free start / drive cycles have elapsed at which time the DME will clear them) , which in themselves are not deemed either serious enough or persistent enough to trip the engine light. An OBDII code reader *may* not show these, a Peake does.

As a satisfied user I can vouch for the Peake R5-FCXIII-16.

If you've lost your manual or are just wondering how comprehensive the fault code lists are, the manuals are here to download in pdf format:

http://www.peakeresearch.com/manual.htm
(As a post 2000 e46 owner you may become familiar with table 19 codes).
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:45 AM   #9
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Im borrowing a friend's OBDII today. my Service Engine Soon just lit. i was thinking of securing one for 2001xi 3 series for about $140+. Can anybody show me picture of where in the dashboard its located? many thanks!
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Old 03-11-2009, 12:06 PM   #10
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Are you considering buying a Peake tool, or a generic OBDII? I hope after reading this thread you're aware of the differences.

Our Peake tools are $139.95 shipped (domestic). www.bmwscantools.com to see our selection.

The port for your car is under the dash on the driver's side. It may have a small plastic door covering it. It is trapezoidal in shape.

ken@bimmertools.com if you have any questions about the tools we carry, or which is appropriate for your car.

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Old 03-11-2009, 12:25 PM   #11
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Ken.

Im not sure, but i see a small opening like a regtangular size the one thats fits the 16 pins of the Peake. at first i thought unscrewing the panel will reveal a connection but i dont see one! maybe ill take a pic. of it.
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Old 03-11-2009, 12:36 PM   #12
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The 16 pin port is the correct one. It is the main electronic connection port for many components, and is shared by the OBDII system as well as the BMW-Diagnostic system the Peake tool communicates with. Think of it as your car's "Serial" port.

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Old 03-11-2009, 12:38 PM   #13
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Here is a photo of the port:



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Old 03-11-2009, 02:05 PM   #14
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mine is 2001 325xi wagon, are all have the same port. tried opening it, but cant find it. im afraid of breaking. how do you open yours?
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:09 PM   #15
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finally! i squeeze the side of the port and walla! many thanks, Ken! ill let you know once i i get hold of the OBDII.
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:11 PM   #16
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My pleasure. I'm just curious why you're using an OBDII tool instead of a Peake tool.

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Old 03-11-2009, 07:53 PM   #17
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My cousin has one that he uses on his cars. he said i could try this one and see before buying the peake. sad to say i had a misfire on cylider 2. or P1345. now, i dont know how to proceed. any imputs will much appreciated.
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Old 03-11-2009, 08:13 PM   #18
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Lots of possible causes for a misfire - coils, vacuum leaks, etc. Reset the code, drive as normal, and see if it returns.

Realize that the Peake tool, while similar in concept, will be reading a different set of codes. The Peake tool may reveal a similar result, it may not.

Using a Peake tool is a somewhat different experience. The first thing the Peake tool will do is check to see which diagnostic module/ECU your car has. It then reports that to you by specifying which table within the manual you should refer to. That table is specific to your car, and will always be the table you refer to.

Within each table is a list of codes programmed by BMW to help a technician diagnose your car. They are not generic (like OBDII), they are the same codes the dealer or BMW mechanic would see.

The only thing using an OBDII tool would prepare you for using a Peake tool is where to plug it in. Beyond that, they are different animals.

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Old 03-12-2009, 08:05 AM   #19
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Thanks! im still reading the manual on how to reset the code on this OBDII.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:33 AM   #20
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I have both a USB OBDII laptop interface with Scantool software and a Peake tool.
Each have unique advantages, if I were to buy just one, on balance it would be the (albeit more expensive) Peake.

More details on OBDII tool and Peake tool here:

My OBDII interface with Scantool software how-to:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=576850

OBDII Fault Codes:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=303141

Ken's Peake tool info thread:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=549635
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