Yesterday I started my BMW F34 and got a dash warning for an ABS failure. A minute later a chassis stabilization warning came up, then the cruise control wouldn’t work, finally my spoiler was declared non-functional. I feared the next thing would be limp mode. Even though I’m a mechanic all of this would have normally pointed to a dealer visit ASAP. Easier said than done, he’s 90 minutes away.
A bit of searching on line pointed to the likelihood of a speed sensor on a wheel being the cause, since the ABS and all the rest need to have speed information from all the wheels to function. I even found a few videos on how to diagnose the problem with the Foxwell NT520 BMW OBD2 scanner.
Today I hooked NT520 up, did a scan, and all of the faults came up, the first traced to the left rear speed sensor. It said the problem was intermittent. I cleared the codes and all the dash warnings went away. I did an operational test of the speed sensors and they were all working. I took a drive, no new warnings. If the problem comes back I’ll order a new speed sensor, changing them is easy.
If I couldn’t have diagnosed and cleared the warnings myself it would have been a full day to take it to the dealer to have them do the same thing I did. Even if it was a no-charge warranty item time is money, so that saved trip saved me twice what the Foxwell cost. If you can’t change a light bulb and/or your dealer is within walking distance then you can live without one of these, but I’m a real believer now, because all of the on-board diagnostic tools in the iDrive said the same thing: get to the dealer.
The Foxwell NT520 is a diagnostic tool that plugs into your OBDII port. The Schwaben BMW/Mini Scan Tool is a repackaged version. Right now both are available for around $159.
Time to questions and answers on Foxwell NT520 performance:
1. Question: Does the foxwell actually say which speed sensor it is on there or is it like any other scan tool that just gives a code/tells you what the problem is but not where. Example miss fire but doesnt say which cylinder
Answer: Foxwell NT520 tells you which sensor triggered the fault, and it allows you to test them by driving the car, showing the speed at each wheel. If one of the sensors is out it won’t register any speed. It only takes 1 MPH to show up, so I was able to confirm operation in my driveway driving maybe 20 feet. The fault on mine was registered as an intermittent. What happens with the iDrive is that once a fault is triggered the warnings, and their consequences, remain until they’re cleared, even if the problem went away. With the NT520 you can clear them yourself, making sure that there really is something broken before you make a trip to the shop to fix it. Less expensive scanners are as you describe, they don’t necessarily pinpoint the fault source or let you clear the fault.
2. Question: Where did you get it?
Answer: I got mine direct from Foxwelltool.com. Supposedly it was to come from their US warehouse, but it shipped from Hong Kong. I still got it in 5 days. It doesn’t come with the software loaded, you have to download that. Typical of Chinese products the documentation and instructions are horrible, but thanks to youtube you can find videos of everything you need to know, from installing the software to every operation it’s capable of.
Ten weeks later Update: Ten weeks later no repetition of the ABS sensor fault. Glad I didn’t have to waste a day at the dealer for what was probably just a system glitch.
3. Question: Doesn’t the Foxwell allow coding injectors and other more in-depth functions that Carly doesn’t support?
Answer: Yes, foxwell nt520 bmw scanner can code injectors, prime the fuel pump, reset transmission adaptation, etc. I did that on my Z4 N54. My experience with the F30 is that Foxwell is lagging on functionality with the later models. Attached is the NT520 BMW function list.
4. Question: can this tool be use on different car….ie Mitsubishi, honda, ford, toyota and audi . I have all those cars?
Answer: Yes. $60 each for additional brand software.
5. Question: BMW Carly or Foxwell NT520 BMW?
Feedback 1: I have both Carly and the Foxwell NT520. For diagnostic, I always use the Foxwell.
Feedback 2: I have both Foxwell and Carly. Carly is great for coding and code reading, but the Foxwell is a much more robust tool. You can code injectors for example.
Feedback 3: The NT520 allowed me to activate the low pressure fuel pump (to prime) when I changed the fuel filter. When I had a check engine for the DEF tank, I was able to confirm the tank temperature sensor was defective. Carly cannot any of this.
Carly list all codes, pending codes and real codes, in one screen without identifying the type of codes. With the NT520, I can tell which code is pending codes and which code is a real codes.
Note: The pending codes do not turn ON the CEL. Pending codes that only stay for a given amount of time or a number of start will become a real code and turn ON the CEL.
I do not use anymore Carly because the NT520 is far superior diagnostic tool.