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.