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Old 11-13-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
Mr.Philadelphia
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DIY: Changing Temperature Gauge Buffer Range with PA Soft 1.4

Though I am the author of this original post, it really has become a thread by committee. Thanks to TerraPhantm's & Silbervogel's contributions, this thread is incredibly useful to all e46 owners.

Many e46 owners complain that the non-M coolant temperature gauge is practically useless given its wide buffer range (75C-115C) and high range settings. The 12 o'clock position represents the buffer range, which means that the needle will stay at this position when the coolant temperature is between 75C and 115C. This is problematic for at least a couple of reasons. Your needle will stay at the 12 o'clock position even if you have the all-too-common soft failing thermostat (See jfoj's excellent thread on this issue and related problems ). This was true on my wife's car, which ran in the 77-87C range without turning on the service engine soon light (SES). Secondly, an upper limit of 115C for the buffer range doesn't give the driver much time to shut off the engine in the event that it overheats. Given the relatively high failure rate of t-stats and other cooling system components on the e46, performing this revision can help avert catastrophe.

TerraPhantm has made it possible to reprogram the temperature gauge to behave in a more linear manner, which provides the driver with a more accurate representation of what's happening under the hood. It does so by setting the buffer range to 90-100C instead of the factory programmed range of 75-115C and also by adjusting the lower and upper ranges of the gauge. After you perform this modification, you'll know if you have a soft failing t-stat by simply looking at the gauge. You'll also have more advanced warning of overheating and, therefore, more time to shut the engine down. Furthermore, because the lower limit of the buffer range will be set at 90C instead of the factory preset of 75C, the driver might be less inclined to flog the engine before it reaches operating temperature. By all accounts, the baseline operating temperature for these cars is 95C.

TerraPhantm is responsible for most of the useful information that follows. Any errors are, of course, my own.

The first set of instructions that follows can also be found in this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
I was asked details on how to make the coolant temp gauge buffer smaller in another thread. Since the procedure requires PASoft and this thread gets a decent bit of traffic, I thought I'd post here.

The following only applies to facelift cars; I'm sure the same can be done to prefacelifts, but the procedure will differ. Even on the facelift cars, the EEPROM addresses may vary.

Read your cluster's EEPROM with PASoft. Open the resulting file with a hex editor and go to offset 0x34D (my edit: 0x340 may be the correct offset; either way, the codes will be identical). Take note of the following 8 bytes:

Code:
06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D
0x0F = 15C = Gauge Start (not sure about this one)
0x32 = 50C = First Notch (I know the ZHP guys say it's 65C, so it might represent the end of the blue)
0x4b = 75C = Buffer Start
0x73 = 115C = Buffer End

0x7D = 125C = 3rd Notch (or maybe start of red)
0x8F = 143C = Gauge maxed out

So as you can see, the buffer is 40 degrees in this case. I would change it to the following:

Code:
06 0F 41 5A 64 6E 78 00 10 2D 2D
That still leaves a small buffer of 90 - 100 which is an appropriate range for the car. And if it's anything like the M3 (which also has a 10 degree buffer), small variations do cause it to wiggle around in the buffer zone; it's not noticeable on the non-M since the range is so wide. I haven't tried eliminating the buffer, but I imagine you'd set the buffer start and end values to the same thing (95C would be 5F) -- I'm not sure exactly how I'd scale the surrounding values, but you can play with that.

(if you're wondering why I included the unbolded values, it's because NCS defines that whole region as the coolant gauge characteristic curve)
But I could not find offset 0x34D (nor 0x340) in my EEPROM so I sent him a line that looked very similar:

Code:
 0x0F0: OF 00 32 1F 4B 5A 73 5A 7C 94 7D A4 06 0E 1E 0F
From this, he deduced the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm pm w/ revisions for accuracy
This is pure conjecture of mine, but I think the format is:

- angle; temperature - angle; etc.

So for 15C and below, the gauge is at the bottom. From 15C - 50C, it moves from 0 to 31; from 50 to 75C, it moves towards 90. From 75-115C it stays at that angle. From 115 to 124C it gets to 148, and then 125C onward it jumps to 164 (and turns on the light?). That seems to cover the range of motion of that gauge.

If I'm correct, you'd want to set to something like the following
0F 00 41 1F 5A 5A 64 5A 6E 94 73 A4

Which basically translates to:
15C - 0; 65C - 31; 90C - 90; 100C - 90; 110C - 148; 115C - 164

You might want to play with the values a bit, but I think 100 is about the max the M54 gets under normal operation. 115C triggering the light should give you enough time to shut down.
Code:
Factory     0x0F0:  0F 00 32 1F 4B 5A 73 5A 7C 94 7D A4 06 0E 1E 0F
Revision #1 0x0F0:  0F 00 41 1F 5A 5A 64 5A 6E 94 73 A4 06 0E 1E 0F
Worked like a charm. I used the values shown above, but you may want to play with upper range values depending on your driving style and operating conditions. Here's a chart that can help you do it (Added on 11/23):

Code:
Decimal       20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140
HexaDecimal   14 19 1E 23 28 2D 32 37 3C 41 46 4B 50 55 5A 5F  64  69  6E  73  78  7D  82  87  8C
For example, if you want to eliminate the buffer altogether and make needle behavior in the upper range almost linear, here's another option (added on 11/23):
Code:
  
Factory     0x0F0: 0F 00 32 1F 4B 5A 73 5A 7C 94 7D A4 06 0E 1E 0F
Revision #2 0x0F0: 0F 00 41 1F 5F 5A 69 7C 73 94 78 A4 06 0E 1E 0F
---------------Bottom Hash Mark---Upper Limit of Blue---2nd Hash Mark--12 o'clock---3rd Hash Mark---Lower Limit of Red---Red (Maxed Out/Light On):
Needle Angle-----------0----------------31-----------------55---------90----------124--------------148----------------164--------------
T(Factory 0x340)------0-15C------------ 50C----------------60C----75-115C-----120C----------------125C---------------143C-------------
T(Rev. 0x340)---------0-15C-------------65C----------------75C------90-100C---105C----------------110C---------------120C----------
T(Factory 0x0f0)------0-15C-------------50C----------------60C----75-115C-----120C----------------124C---------------125C-------------
T(Rev. #1 0x0f0)----- 0-15C-------------65C----------------75C------90-100C---105C----------------110C---------------115C----------
T(Rev. #2 0x0f0)------0-15C-------------65C-------------75C-----------95C--------105C-------------115C---------------120C-------------
T=Temperature

The upper range is, of course, not observed, but we can assume that the needle will move accordingly.

*Take a mental note of the corresponding needle positions and temperatures in the chart above so that you know how to read the reprogrammed gauge, which will now be much more sensitive in the upper range. This is merely a result of the "new normal" gauge behavior that this modification seeks to achieve. Though the baseline operating temperature is 95C, the electrically controlled t-stat allows normal operating temperature to fluctuate in the 75C-113C range depending on driver input and operating conditions. For more details on how it works, look here. As mentioned, the reprogrammed temp. gauge is advantageous because it will, among other things, help you recognize a soft failing and give you more time to shut off your engine if it overheats.

The following is a graphic of the factory vs. revision #1 temp. gauge, courtesy of SilberVogel. His original post can be found here. He has also attached a screenshot of his revision of offset 0x0F0 with PA Soft 1.4 in post #62 of this thread.



Here are step-by-step instructions with PA Soft 1.4
1) Click on IKE.
2) Click "Read EEPROM"
3) Hex editor functions are in the lower left hand corner. Click the floppy disk icon to save the factory loaded file onto your desktop as backup.
4) Make revisions from "factory" bolded values to "revised" bolded values shown above: Find the corresponding offset and move the cursor over the bytes to be revised. You can use arrow keys to move the cursor as well.
5) Click "Write EEPROM." Your cluster will flash and beep several times after completion -- and like magic, your gauge will now reflect more accurately what's happening under the hood.

To TerraPhantm, I send a big "thank you." If you're ever in Philly, I'll take you out for a beer, a cheesesteak and whatever else you want.

Subsequently, Silbervogel improved the graphic with this incredibly useful tool for those of us who do not regularly work with hexadecimals but want to play around with the values; and even for those well versed, this visual representation of gauge behavior is invaluable. His contributions make moot my charts above, but I've not deleted them in order to show the evolution of this thread and contributions of others.

What follows are his words and can also be found in post #132 of this thread.

Silbervogel: I decided to take the temperature gauge graphic a bit further and made an interactive version.

It's a basic hex generator that translates the string from P.A. Soft and displays the corresponding temps. It will also convert the temperature ranges you give it back into hex and properly format it again.

Here's a screenshot of the program's interface:



It's a standalone application that runs on Windows and can be downloaded here:
http://www.bmwpnpc.com/silbervogel/E... Generator.exe

Find this to be a hugely beneficial modification and think it has a lot of value. For anyone who might feel it's beyond their abilities or comfort level, I hope this tool helps alleviate some concerns and makes the process even easier.

Last edited by Mr.Philadelphia; 07-27-2014 at 10:05 AM. Reason: clarity, accuracy
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Old 11-13-2013, 05:31 PM   #2
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Very cool! Thanks for providing the "PA Soft 1.4 For Dummies" directions too.
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:23 PM   #3
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Philly,

Thanks for guinea pigging this.

Would be interested to see what the same line in an M3 looks like, might be slightly different to offset the cooler running temps on the M3?

I was connected to an M3 earlier today, too bad I could not have captured the info. The M3 I was looking at today had a soft thermostat, but it may have been softer than I even expected, because I expect the M3 to have the coolant temperature sensor directly on top of the thermostat housing like my M5, but I think it is located in the rear of the cylinder head? I now have to track down what a typical M3 coolant temp baseline is, I think it is actually a bit higher than the E39 M5 based upon where the coolant temperature sensor is actually located.

I think BWM buffered the standard E46 and most other models of the same vintage/design class due to the how the heater thermostat works and keeping the "customer" isolated from the fact the engine coolant temperature is dancing around by design. I think BMW was trying to keep the customer complaints down by buffering the temp gauge. Hell, VW only put a light in many of their cars and the DME low temperature error algorithm was as wide as a house, the VW could run 165-170F all day long vs the expected 205F and never trigger a low engine coolant DTC.

Also I think the EU version E46 may have a cooler thermostat that may maximize performance along with the EU DME tune. Would be interesting to see what the EU E46 temp hex values are and I also wonder if anyone in the US that is running the EU tune on their E46 would be better off with the cooler EU thermostat?
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Last edited by jfoj; 11-13-2013 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Philly,

Thanks for guinea pigging this.

Would be interested to see what the same line in an M3 looks like, might be slightly different to offset the cooler running temps on the M3?

I was connected to an M3 earlier today, too bad I could not have captured the info. The M3 I was looking at today had a soft thermostat, but it may have been softer than I even expected, because I expect the M3 to have the coolant temperature sensor directly on top of the thermostat housing like my M5, but I think it is located in the rear of the cylinder head? I now have to track down what a typical M3 coolant temp baseline is, I think it is actually a bit higher than the E39 M5 based upon where the coolant temperature sensor is actually located.

I think BWM buffered the standard E46 and most other models of the same vintage/design class due to the how the heater thermostat works and keeping the "customer" isolated from the fact the engine coolant temperature is dancing around by design. I think BMW was trying to keep the customer complaints down by buffering the temp gauge. Hell, VW only put a light in many of their cars and the DME low temperature error algorithm was as wide as a house, the VW could run 165-170F all day long vs the expected 205F and never trigger a low engine coolant DTC.

Also I think the EU version E46 may have a cooler thermostat that may maximize performance along with the EU DME tune. Would be interesting to see what the EU E46 temp hex values are and I also wonder if anyone in the US that is running the EU tune on their E46 would be better off with the cooler EU thermostat?
I don't have the data in the pre-2003 format, but this should still tell you enough

KMT_KENNLINIE (Coolant Gauge Curve)
Code:
2003(?)+ Clusters
E46 M3:  06 0F 3C 55 5F 69 73 00 10 2D 2D
Non-M:   06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D
Revised: 06 0F 41 5A 64 6E 73 00 10 2D 2D

2002(and others?) Clusters:
E46 M3:  0F 00 3C 1F 55 5A 5F 5A 69 94 73 A4 06 0E 1E 0F (hypothesized values)
Non-M:   0F 00 32 1F 4B 5A 73 5A 7C 94 7D A4 06 0E 1E 0F
Revised: 0F 00 41 1F 5A 5A 65 5A 6E 94 73 A4 06 0E 1E 0F
Code:
Non-M Default	M3 Default	Recommended non-M	Function / Angle
0x0F (15C)	0x0F (15C)	0x0F (15C)	Gauge Start (0)
0x32 (50C)	0x3C (60C)	0x41 (65C)	End of Blue (15.5)
0x4B (75C)	0x55 (85C)	0x5A (90C)	Center (Buffer Start) (45)
0x73 (115C)	0x5F (95C)	0x64 (100C)	Center (Buffer End) (45)
0x7D (125C)	0x69 (105C)	0x6E (110C)	Start of Red (79)
0x8F (143C)	0x73 (115C)	0x73 (115C)	End of Red or LED on?? (84)
(note, last two temperatures appear to be different for early clusters)

M3 buffer is from 85 to 95C. Which is odd because the car comes with an 82 thermostat and it's rare that I can get it above 85

115C might be a little aggressive to max out the gauge, but I figure the early warning would be good. You guys can tweak the values to your liking
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Old 11-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #5
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Nice! I'll do this once I get my PA Soft. Temperature gauge is useless with a 40C range buffer zone.
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
I think BWM buffered the standard E46 and most other models of the same vintage/design class due to the how the heater thermostat works and keeping the "customer" isolated from the fact the engine coolant temperature is dancing around by design. I think BMW was trying to keep the customer complaints down by buffering the temp gauge. Hell, VW only put a light in many of their cars and the DME low temperature error algorithm was as wide as a house, the VW could run 165-170F all day long vs the expected 205F and never trigger a low engine coolant DTC.
Agreed, with the factory loaded parameters for the temp., gauge, it may as well be a dummy light, and this satisfies the vast majority of consumers. My wife has learned over the years to be very good about paying attention to the temp. gauge and other warning lights so I'm just happy that she has one that's more honest.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:55 AM   #7
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Excellent write up.

I'll try this on my 2001.
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Old 11-14-2013, 11:10 AM   #8
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Great info. Thank you Terra for the discovery and Philly for testing and summarizing it. Going to do this on my 2005 now.
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac_2007 View Post
Excellent write up.

I'll try this on my 2001.
Worked exactly as described.

Go do this now! Basically a free CoolantSnitch sans buzzer.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:35 PM   #10
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So i just did this, I think this converted it to farenheight? Not sure what this really does lol.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:28 PM   #11
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You reduced the buffer range for 12 o'clock position on the coolant gauge. Not sure where you're getting Fahrenheit from, all temperatures are in Celsius.

Now if you start to overheat, you'll have more time to catch it.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:29 PM   #12
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DIY: Changing Temperature Gauge Buffer Range with PA Soft 1.4

Oh that makes more sense. Thanks!


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Old 11-19-2013, 07:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac_2007 View Post
Worked exactly as described.
Go do this now! Basically a free CoolantSnitch sans buzzer.
Glad you got it to work for you.

Factory programmed gauge + temperamental cooling system = the perfect storm.

Reprogramming is a no brainer.

Last edited by Mr.Philadelphia; 11-21-2013 at 11:15 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 11-21-2013, 08:17 AM   #14
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Worked like a charm. I didn't see line 0x34D, but I did find the string of code Terra pointed out starting in the middle of line 0x340 and continuing into line 0x350. A bit different than what I expected, but I triple checked to make sure it was the exact same string and then gave it a go:

Original: 06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D

Modified: 06 0F 41 5A 64 6E 78 00 10 2D 2D

Question, if 0x8F reflects gauge's maximum, then what is the result of changing the value to 78?
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:07 AM   #15
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Interesting write up. Could you program the buffer out entirely, and have the needle respond to temperature, with 100C being at 90 degrees? In other words, why do we need the buffer?
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
Interesting write up. Could you program the buffer out entirely, and have the needle respond to temperature, with 100C being at 90 degrees? In other words, why do we need the buffer?
It would appear that you could. You would set both values for the buffer to 90C, which Terraphantm mentioned in his first set of instructions. One benefit I see for keeping the upper limit of the buffer range at 100C is that you have a better index of the gauge for the upper range, which would then also be reserved for instances when you really need to pay attention to it (T>100C).

Quote:
Originally Posted by HLG600 View Post
Worked like a charm. I didn't see line 0x34D, but I did find the string of code Terra pointed out starting in the middle of line 0x340 and continuing into line 0x350. A bit different than what I expected, but I triple checked to make sure it was the exact same string and then gave it a go:

Original: 06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D

Modified: 06 0F 41 5A 64 6E 78 00 10 2D 2D

Question, if 0x8F reflects gauge's maximum, then what is the result of changing the value to 78?
Awesome.
0x78 = 120C, your new maximum.

Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy, probably a typo. in Terraphantm's post. I'll edit my original post to reflect this.

Last edited by Mr.Philadelphia; 11-22-2013 at 05:23 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
Interesting write up. Could you program the buffer out entirely, and have the needle respond to temperature, with 100C being at 90 degrees? In other words, why do we need the buffer?
You can eliminate the buffer by making both values 100C

These are the original values:
Code:
 
0x4b = 75C = Buffer Start
0x73 = 115C = Buffer End

Original: 06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D
These are buffer-less values:
Code:
0x64 = 100C = Buffer Start
0x64 = 100C = Buffer End

Modified: 06 0F 41 64 64 6E 78 00 10 2D 2D
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:24 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Mr.Philadelphia View Post
Ox78 = 120C, your new maximum
Got it. Thanks again to you and Terra. Very interesting and handy modification.
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:50 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac_2007 View Post
You can eliminate the buffer by making both values 100C

These are the original values:
Code:
 
0x4b = 75C = Buffer Start
0x73 = 115C = Buffer End

Original: 06 0F 32 4B 73 7D 8F 00 10 2D 2D
These are buffer-less values:
Code:
0x64 = 100C = Buffer Start
0x64 = 100C = Buffer End

Modified: 06 0F 41 64 64 6E 78 00 10 2D 2D
Yep, that'll work, too. The only caveat is that your needle will now hang a touch below 12 0'clock at baseline running temps. (@95C).
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:10 AM   #20
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Thanks. Great info guys!
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