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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-06-2011, 01:08 AM   #1
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Location: Waukesha,WI
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My Ride: 99 E46 328i
$4 Outside Thermometer Repair DIY

Hello all. After years of reading, learning and using the information gleaned from this forum, I finally have something worth contributing.

I have a '99 E46 5-spd w/ sport pkg. that I have had since 2001. Its a daily driver that take absolutely no mercy on. After 154k miles she still runs like a banshee.

Two years ago I moved from TX to WI where the snow and ice have finally ripped off the outside temperature sensor. Luckily the connector is in perfect condition, only the splash plate and sensor were 'removed'. After finding out how much just the sensor alone costs, I could not bring myself to pay $45 to $50 for what is simply a thermistor (typically $2 to $4 each).

Using a 10k potentiometer hooked up to the sensors connector, I found that 5k Ohm gave me 25C on the dash readout. So over to Digikey.com I went and searched around for 5K Ohm thermistors. There were a number to choose from so I ordered 3, each having a different resistance curve so I could have a better chance of finding a match.

Two days later my order arrived. I soldered some small pins to the thermistors so that they could be plugged into the two terminal connector of the car. Armed with a freshly calibrated digital thermometer I headed to the driveway. The first one I tried gave me a reading of 22F on the dash (I did mention I it's WI) and the digital thermometer read 21.5F - Close Enough!

I went inside and finished off the pins with heatshrink and sealed the ends with flexible superglue. I returned to the car and plugged the unit back into the connector and wrapped it all with electrical tape leaving just the very tip of the thermistor exposed. Finally I tie wrapped the new unit into the front air dam.

For those wanting to give this fix a shot, the Digikey part number is BC2461-ND. This is a Vishay/BC NTC thermistor with a 5% tolerance. My dash readout matches that of the closest Wunderground station to my house - if not off by a degree.

I didn't do this because I'm cheap, it was more a matter of principal. Not to mention it was a fun and easy project.

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Old 02-06-2011, 10:36 AM   #2
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Good info...I've ripped my sensor off 3 times already.
2013 F30 328i - Melbourne Red
2011 E90 M3 - Monte Carlo Blue
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:47 AM   #3
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Going to try this!

Now Coding Cars in the Burlington,VT/Plattsburgh, NY area - PM if needed
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Old 09-29-2011, 01:08 PM   #4
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Nice write up. Definitely going to do this when the sensor disappears again.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:47 PM   #5
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Most Importantly!

Kudos for your engineering prowess!

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Old 10-02-2011, 12:07 AM   #6
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I just replaced mine, new $25 with wires and plug!!
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:21 AM   #7
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Where purchased?

Originally Posted by tikito77 View Post
I just replaced mine, new $25 with wires and plug!!
Great price. From where?
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Old 10-02-2011, 05:11 AM   #8
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i bought the aftermarket on ebay for $16 shipped. Works great!
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:24 PM   #9
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Ambient sensor nowhere-to-be-found...<?>

On my latest project E46 (just bought) I read an outside ambient sensor code. 'No worries, I just replace the pointy bit at the front wheel-well/fascia, right? Well...upon looking for it - both driver and passenger sides - nothing. No sensor, no shards or empty socket etc.

There is nearly nothing on the left side, but on the right (passenger) there IS this odd little disc-plug wired in (attached): It is a couple-inch disc, with two conductors; the non-connector side is flat and FLUSH with the front fascia.
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Might there be differing types of sensors, and those one simply a plug-like version? Have a pointy one on order; simply assumed it would be the same as every other one on the net. Thanks for any guidance.
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