How to read BMW fault codes
In this guide, you will learn how to read and clear codes from BMW cars using various BMW diagnostic tools.
If the error codes are present, you will need to fix the underlying problem then clear the codes. BMW fault codes may also be referred to as DTC or Diagnostic Trouble Codes. First, we show you how to read engine codes.
Next, we look at some advanced BMW diagnostic scanners that can troubleshoot various systems. Watch the following videos to learn how to read fault codes on a BMW.
Read BMW Check Service Engine DTC Fault Codes
A generic OBD2 scanner will allow you only to read and clear codes related to check engine light/service engine soon. Check engine light or also referred to as Service Engine Soon codes are stored in the DDE/DME module. Even a cheap generic OBD2 scanner can read and clear these BMW error codes.
The limitation with a generic OBD2 scanner is that they can not retrieve BMW specific fault codes. Code description may be too general and not always helpful for BMW vehicles. A BMW specific scan tool will provide better descriptions and even retrive more codes.
BMW Specific Scan Tools
Generic Scan Tools
Read Fault Codes with BMW Scan Tools
If you need to diagnose the airbag system, ABS, DSC or any other module, you will need a scanner that can access multiple systems. In this section, you will learn how to use several advanced BMW diagnostic scanner and reset fault codes.
AutoPhix ES910 is another scanner worth considering if you are \looking for a good BMW Code Reader. While it works only on BMW it can access most systems including ABS, SRS, EGS and more.
It is one of the cheapest BMW scanners that you can buy. Great value for the money. Usually, retails for around $150-$200.
Launch Creader is a scanner that works on BMW plus over 20 other makes. It is primarily able to scan four main modules: ECU, ABS, SRS, and transmission fault codes. It can't get into too many BMW modules, but it provides access to the four modules we mentioned in most cars.
It is a better option and more powerfully than a generic OBD2 scanner or ELM327 Bluetooth Adapter or Torque App. Its main advantage is that it covers multiple makes and models. Typically retails for around $150-$200.
Carly for BMW
One of the most popular BMW scan tools in the market. It can access the majority of modules on 1996 and newer BMW. It can read and clear codes. Register a new battery. It is one of the few scanners that can code and program BMW features such as for enabling folding mirrors, getting rid of the iDrive warning message, change the low fuel warning setting and a lot more.
Be careful with this scanner as you can cause damage to your BMW is you misconfigure a module. While the Carly adapter costs under $100, to use the advanced features of Carly for BMW you will need Carly for BMW Pro version. Carly for BMW setup ends up costing around $150-$180. It works with Android and iPhone but it requires a different adapter for each.
Update December 2018: Carly for BMW Pro version has changed a yearly subscription plan.
If you want to learn more about choosing a good BMW diagnostic scanner read this great article on Choosing a OBD2 scanner for BMW.
Autel MaxiDAS BMW Diagnostic Scanner
Autel MaxiDAS is a professional diagnostic scanner. It works on the majority of cars that you see on the road. This scanner is very easy to use and often you will see technicals and independents repair shops use it.
Not only can access multiple BMW modules, but it allows you to test sensors and activate them for in-depth troubleshooting. Costs around $800-$1000.
Foxwell NT510 BMW Scan Tool
Foxwell NT510 is a powerful BMW scan tool which is capable of reading and clearing codes form over 70 different modules. It also allows you to register a new battery and look at sensor data.
Foxell NT510 doesn't offer coding capabilities. If you are looking for an easy to use BMW scanner, this is a great choice. Usually, retails for about $150-$200.