In this guide, we take a look at how to troubleshoot BMW Universal Charging and the hands-free facility, also known as the ULF module or MULF2.
In this guide, we review several all-system OBD-II diagnostic scanners for BMW.
Overall the Foxwell NT510 for BMW remains one of the best scanners for BMW owners. It is able to diagnose all systems such as transmission, airbag, ABS, engine, EGS, DME, ABS, EPB, SRS/Airbag, iDrive, Body, Chassis, etc. It also allows you to register a new battery with the same specifications as the original.
Foxwell NT510 / Schwaben
Foxwell NT510 for BMW is an affordable scanner that supports all systems on most BMW models.
For example, it can read and erase codes from the engine, transmission abs, traction control, SRS/airbag, reset oil reminder. It works both on gasoline and diesel BMWs.
It is one of the few all system BMW scan tools under $200 that provides advanced features such as battery registration, and component actuation. Such functions are usually only available from BMW dealer level scanners or much more expensive professional scanners.
A key advantage of the Foxwell NT510 is the fact that this is a handheld unit and doesn't require a laptop.
In our opinion, this is a BMW scanner that is the perfect alternative to the K+DCAN/INAP setup.
It will work as a generic OBD2 scanner on any make without the need to upgrade.
- Easy to use
- Multi-System Diagnostic | All Systems
- Turn off any warning light
- Show live sensor data
- Reset oil service
- Electronic parking brake functions
- Component actuation
- Module coding
- EOBD Compliant
- Register new battery
Autel MaxiCOM Advanced Diagnostic Scanner
Autel MaxiCOM scanner is a professional level diagnostic scanner. It has a wide vehicle coverage for BMW but also works on European, Asian and American cars. You normally would see independent repair shops use the Autel Maxi scanners.
This is an alternative to the popular but the more expensive Snap ON Solus. It can read and clear fault codes from most systems. It can perform coding and programming which is not possible with most scanners in this list.
It can Reset EPB, SAS, DPF, BMS, ABS, SRS, TPMS, etc. It can perform new battery registration and reset service reminder intervals.
Autel MaxiCOM is a great tool for independent BMW repair shops, home mechanics, and enthusiasts. It delivers OE-Level diagnosis on all the electronic systems including Engine, ABS, SRS, Transmission, Body, Chassis, 4X4 and much more!
It is capable of advanced functions such as actuation, adaptation, and programming. It lets you access the most common essential service features such as oil service light reset, EPB, SAS throttle body adjustment, DPF regeneration and much more.
View and record live vehicle sensors data in text and graph format to focus on any suspicious or symptom-specific data parameters. The powerful graphing capability gives you the real picture of what's going on in the vehicle.
- Multi-vehicle coverage
- Diagnose All Systems
- Oil Reset
- Professional Level
- Register Battery
Carly for BMW
Carly for BMW allows you to perform a multi-component health check on your BMW.
If you are looking to easily diagnose your BMW and also code it, then Carly for BMW is the best choice.
It is easy to use, and you can't mess things up very easily. Carly for BMW provides some troubleshooting functionality and a ton of coding options.
The downside of the Carly for BMW is that you will need the Carly adapter but also a yearly subscription.
The Carly Lite version which is free provides one free diagnostics and not many coding features. There are too many in-app purchases. For example, if you want to program the IDRIVE for DVD/TV in motion you have a buy a $20 addon.
- Recurring Yearly Subscription
- Easy to use
- Program features
- Read codes and clear from all systems
- Battery registration
- Requires purchase of Carly Pro version to
- take full advantage of the software.
- Regenerating the diesel filter,
- NOx Regeneration,
- DVD/TV in motion,
- service reset.
Launch Creader VII+/ X431
Launch Creader VII+ is one of the few scanners in this list that isn't just for BMW but for all makes.
While it may not be able to read and clear fault codes from every possible BMW module, it covers the most problematic areas which are the engine, transmission, ABS, and airbag.
It is easy to use and cheap when you consider its model coverage and functionality.
Launch Creader scanner is definitely worth considering if you are looking for a multi-system scanner that will diagnose multiple cars not just BMW.
You can read and clear codes from Engine, Transmission, ABS, and airbags on nearly every car including Audi, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and many other makes.
Launch Creader scanner may be referred to as X431, CRP123 (CRP129 newer) and VII+.
- Works on most makes and models not just BMW
- Supports Engine, Transmission, ABS, SRS ONLY
- Easy to use
- Great price on a multi-system, multi-make scanner.
- Does not support all systems on BMW
- No coding
- No battery registration
Creator C110+ C310
Anyone who is looking for a cheap OBD2 scanner the Creator C310 for BMW is a great choice.
Creator for the BMW scanner is much more powerful and supports more systems than generic OBD2 scanners or Bluetooth adapters.
The Creator scanners allow you to read BMW specific fault codes and display live sensor data. It works on newer BMW cars. C110 applies to BMW made from 1997-2008. C310 covers models from 1997-2013.
The Creator scanners can be updated online. Scanner language is in English by default but can also be switched to German.
This is the perfect BMW OBD2 scanner for owners who have an older car 1997-2013 and don't want to spend too much money on a BMW scan tool.
During our testing, the scanner performed well and read multiple fault codes. The only issue we had is that the scanner would freeze when we tried to display live data from the engine module.
Based on our research updating Creator's software to the latest version should fix this issue.
- Cheap scanner for BMW
- Easy to use
- Live sensor data from speed sensors, steering angle sensor, etc.
- BMW scanner under $100
- Model support limited
- Limited diagnostics
- Limited year coverage
- Airbag resetting doesn't work on all models
- Random communication errors
It may not be the best option for BMW owners who are just starting with DIY auto repair and are looking for a quick way to diagnose their BMW without worrying if they are going to cause more problems. Worth considering if you are a BMW auto repair shop.
There are several INAP alternatives out there that can diagnose all systems on BMW cars, yet they are a lot easier to use. While K+DCAN is a very powerful BMW tool, it is important to point out that it has a learning curve. The busy BMW owner may not want to spend hours (or days) trying to setup K+DCAN & INPA software.
Also, keep in mind that it is easy to cause problems and misconfiguration by a beginner.
K+DCAN is a USB interface that requires a BMW specific software (INPA) and a laptop to work. It provides advanced diagnostic and coding for BMWs.
This is the software that was used at BMW factories for programming. It allows you to diagnose all systems and perform any coding that you like.
- Very powerfully BMW Diagnostic scanner
- Read and Erase all Diagnostic Trouble Codes
- Unit Adaptations
- BMW Coding and Programing
- Double K-Line Support
- Flash Data
- Input-Output Control
- Supports BMW cars from 1993-2016
- BMW INAP Software that is downloaded online may contain viruses.
- Some BMW specific codes are hard to understand.
- Descriptions may be only in German.
- A very powerful BMW diagnostic and programming software.
Bavarian Tech is a great BMW scanner. Unfortunately, it is designed for the BMW technicians and repair shops in mind, not BMW owners. A less expensive DIY version is available.
The professional version offers similar capabilities to the factory BMW scanner. Overall this BMW scanner is too expensive for the DIYer. The typical price for the Professional version of Bavarian Technic ranges in the $700-$800.
Bavarian Tech scanners provide in-depth troubleshooting and coding of BMW systems including engine, airbag, ABS, automatic transmission, alarm, air condition and much more.
It covers all BMW models from 1996 to present including 1, 3, 4,5, 6, seven series, X1, X3, X4, X5, X6, Z3, Z4, Z8, and Mini models.
It can read and clear BMW specific fault codes. It will also show stored codes or in BMW terms, shadow fault codes. Show actual sensor values. It can activate components that help tremendously if you are trying to troubleshoot BMW problems.
It can reset condition-based service reminders and code control units. It also provides access to the BMW DCAN systems for 2007 and newer models.
- Professional BMW Scanner
- D+KCAN / INPA Alternative
- Too expensive for BMW DIYers
- Requires training to use
- Price Professional $700-$800
iCarsoft BMW Scanner
iCarsoft BM II is another alternative that is a better scanner for BMW than most generic OBD2 scanners.
It allows you to read and clear fault codes from multiple BMW systems including chassis and body modules. It can read and clear trouble codes from transmission, engine, ABS, and airbag systems.
Within minutes you can read and clear BMW specific fault codes from most systems on your BMW. It ranges in the $100-$200 price range.
Unfortunately, it cannot perform a new battery registration. It is locked to BMW but will work as generic OBD2 on most cars.
It provides multiple functions such as:
- Read Codes and Erase Codes
- I/M Readiness indicates whether or not the various emissions-related systems on the vehicle are operating properly and are ready for Inspection and Maintenance testing
- Data Stream
- Freeze Frame -- When an emission-related fault occurs, certain vehicle conditions are recorded by the onboard computer. This information is referred to as freeze frame data. Freeze Data is a snapshot of the operating conditions at the time of an emission-related fault
- O2 Sensor Test -- This option allows retrieval and viewing of O2 sensor test results for most recently performed tests from the vehicle’s on-board computer
- On-Board Monitoring -- This function can be utilized to read the results of on-board diagnostic monitoring tests of specific components/system
- Evap System Test -- The EVAP test function lets you initiate a leak test for the vehicle’s EVAP system.
- Vehicle Information -- The option displays the vehicle identification number (VIN), the calibration verification number (CVN), and other information of the test vehicle
- Carsoft V12 Scanner for BMW & Mini
- Alternative to K+DCAN / INAP
- Full coverage for BMW and MINI
- Free software updates
- Module Coding
- Component Test and Calibration
- Quick, complete diagnostic of all systems
- Error Code Explanation
- Requires a laptop
- The laptop must have the serial port
- Limited year coverage
Just like the BMW K+DCAN/INPA setup, it requires a laptop, Carsoft software and hardware. Unlike the K+DCAN/INPA, it is much easier to set up and install.
It allows you to diagnose multiple systems on BMW cars.
Not only can it read and clear fault codes from multiple systems including transmission, ABS, SRS/Airbag, Instrument Cluster, iDrive, Immobilizer, Light Module, A/C, Convertible Top, Body Units such as ZKE, CAS or RLS but you can perform programming, coding, and unit adaptations.
We found that the Carsoft software is a lot easier to use that most OE dealer scanners.
One of the features that we like on Carsoft scanners is that they allow you to perform a full system test.
The scanner checks for fault codes on all of the systems and displays a report if there are any stored/shadow or current fault codes.
Carsoft will also provide a code explanation, provide a description of the location and even show you a picture in some cases. Provide wiring diagrams and electrical component locations.
AUTOPHIX ES910 BMW Diagnostics Scanner
Autophix ES910 is capable of reading and clearing fault codes from multiple systems and works on many BMW models.
It works on all 2003 and newer BMW models. It also works in a limited number of BMW made between 1998-2001. Check vehicle coverage before buying.
Autophix ES910 is another OBD II scanner that allows BMW owners to read and clear fault codes from multiple systems such as ABS, steering angle sensor, EPB electronic parking brake, DDE, DME, EGS, CAS, IHKA, etc.
It can also perform a new battery registration which we think is a must-have feature even though the registration failed on our 2006 BMW 5-Series.
- Read and clear codes from multiple BMW systems.
- CMS Reset and correct
- Clear adaptation values
- New Battery Programming & Registration
- Easy to use
- Stream and graph data
- Works on MINI and Rolls-Royce
- Displays monitor and I/M readiness status
- Reasonable price
- Autophix ES910 is a good scanner for BMW owners very similar to Foxwell for BMW but cheaper.
Overall we think Foxwell NT510 for BMW is one of the best OBD-II scanners for BMW.
Carly for BMW is a great tool if you are interested in coding functionality.
There are even more BMW scanners out there such as INPA, DIS, GT1, BMW Scanner 1.4.0. While they provide in-depth troubleshooting capabilities, the majority of BMW owners find them expensive or not very easy to use.
With hundreds of OBD2 scanners on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best OBD2 scanner for BMW.
We hope that this article helped you learned enough to buy the best BMW OBD2 scanner based on your needs and budget.
Diagnose Old BMW
Note that older BMW cars have a 20 pin DLC connector under the hood. You will need to use a 20 pin to 16 pin BMW adapter to troubleshoot your BMW.
Otherwise, you will only be able to read and clear fault codes from the ECU (DME/DDE).