Car Mechanics (UK) - - Your Letters - Mark Han­cox

I have been a BMW fan for al­most 10 years and have been run­ning an E90 3-Se­ries, which use the same di­ag­nos­tics sys­tem as the 1-Se­ries, for the last nine years. My cur­rent car is a 2010 325i, which I have had for four years.

In Elec­tronic Di­ag­nos­tics (CM, Fe­bru­ary 2018), you say that the steer­ing locks are pre­pro­grammed to only ac­ti­vate 1000 times be­fore the unit needs re­plac­ing. This can­not be right. If you used the car for three jour­neys a day then it would last for 333 days or 11 months be­fore you needed a new steer­ing col­umn. I don’t think so!

I did once have an is­sue with the steer­ing lock on a 2005 320i, where I would some­times get a warn­ing on the dash that said there was a steer­ing lock fault and the car wouldn’t start. Re-in­sert­ing the key once or twice would clear the fault tem­po­rar­ily. I took the car to my lo­cal BMW spe­cial­ist, which re­set the ECU and I had no more trou­ble.

You also said the ser­vice in­ter­val on these cars is 10,000 miles. How­ever, these mod­els use CBS (con­di­tion-based ser­vic­ing) where the car’s ECU de­ter­mines the next ser­vice mileage us­ing in­for­ma­tion on type of use and oil qual­ity. It is typ­i­cally 20,000-25,000 miles or two years, which I agree is too long.

Mar­tyn Knowles re­sponds: Sorry about that: I think we ex­e­cuted the pro­ce­dure in­cor­rectly. We do men­tion the am­ber warn­ing light – how­ever, it should be an am­ber steer­ing wheel sym­bol that il­lu­mi­nates and this is when the 1000 countdown starts. As you have found, di­ag­nos­tics can re­set the op­er­a­tion in­stead of hav­ing to buy a new steer­ing col­umn. If you ig­nore the lit am­ber warn­ing, a red steer­ing wheel sym­bol will ap­pear, then the en­gine will fail to start. Hope that makes it a bit clearer.

Thanks for point­ing out the maths of 1000 un­locks – it makes sense now!

Yes, the en­gine oil is mon­i­tored by the ECU. We per­haps should have said this, but a change at 10,000 miles or less is best prac­tice for a DIYER, es­pe­cially if the en­gine has a chain to time it up.

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