Refurbish Wiper Arms

The wiper arms on the E52 were looking a bit worse for wear. The black had gone very pale and in some places had come off altogether and there were rust patches. It was time for a refurb.

I used a 17mm spanner to remove the bolts holding the arms on and a battery terminal puller to extract the arms off the spindles.

Using sandpaper and spray that I already had in the cellar I set to work.

Sanded down the arms with 250 grit followed by 1500 grit to remove the worst of the rust and to smooth where the original paint had peeled. I then used three coats of grey etch primer followed by two coats of matt black.

I waited at least five minutes between each coat of paint and then left the arms for 24-hours to dry before fitting back on the car.

The end result is astounding and makes such a difference.

The Before
The After

 

 

 

Coding Using BMW Scanner 1.4.0

I’ve been thinking for a while about what to write about next and then it hit me, what have I been doing a lot of lately with the E53 X5 and before that the E39 530i, I have been playing with different coding options. I have also done some coding for other people at various meets.

I started off when I got the E39 buying the software and cable from http://www.cable-shack.co.uk/ as I wanted to be able to program the remote central locking to make a sound when locking and unlocking the car.

The cable shack software was OK and I got the INPA software to connect to the car and I took a look at NCS expert but couldn’t get my head around it. Coding with NCS is not for the faint-hearted. All the messages are in German, you have to know what modules you have available and where things are to export the current settings, modify them in a text file and then import them back in to the car again. This was all a little too complicated for me. I do still use INPA for testing PDC.

BMW Scanner is much simpler to use for coding. You simply pick the module you want to look at from the list presented, go in to the coding section, change the options you want and write them away. Job done.

For more details on BMW Scanner, visit http://bmw-scanner.com/

You can purchase BMW Scanner from a popular trading site by simply searching for “BMW Scanner”.  For my E39 and E53 I use BMW Scanner version 1.4.0

One thing that is asked a lot on the many group pages is whether BMW Scanner can run on Windows 10. The simple answer is Yes. I have this running on Windows 10 Professional. There is a registry hack to allow the drivers to be installed but after that it installs and works as well as it does on Windows XP or Windows 7.

As an example of how easy BMW Scanner is to use I will make the most frequently requested coding change, to have the indicators act as sidelights. Most people think that this is the Daytime Running Lights option but it isn’t.

Coding the Turn Signals as Sidelights Using BMW Scanner

When you first start BMW Scanner it will interrogate the car and provide you with a list of details about the car. This can be turned off in the settings if you don’t want this to happen every time you start the application but I like to keep it on so that I know the software is communicating with the car.

You will be presented with a list of all the possible modules. At this point you can perform a scan which will go through all the modules and tell you if they are present or not and will show you if there are any errors reported by the module.

Double-click on the errors column to see what errors are currently known by the car and be able to clear them.

To code a module, double-click on the name of the module.

The screen for the module will be shown. We want to double-click on the Light Check Module.

Click on the Coding Data Button. The screen of coding options for the module will be displayed.

Here you can tick and untick the options that you want to code.

To have the indicators act as sidelight, place a tick in the Front Turn Signals as Side Lights option and click on the Write button. Now when you put on the side lights the indicators will also illuminate.

It’s as simple as that. All point and click.

I have heard that Carly BMW which runs on your mobile phone is also able to perform coding and various other functions. I do keep having a look at this but the price for the software and being required to use their Bluetooth adapter makes this option a little too pricey for me based on the feedback I have seen on the Android Store. I have used the lite version with the cable shack cable and this was able to talk to the car but with the lite version you can’t actually do anything useful.

 

 

 

Headlight / Tail light refurb instructions

Here are some notes on how to refurb your headlights or tail lights.

Pre-requisites

  • Ensure that the lights have been washed and dried
  • Mask off all the area around the lights to avoid the sanding and polishing going on to the bodywork around the lights
  • Use sanding pads on a fast drill or polisher

Step-by-step

  1. Using a P800 sandpaper, use medium pressure and move side to side and up and down to remove the worst of the scratches. Periodically dust off the lens and the paper to ease the sanding. When finished, the lens should look a little milky. Check all the defects have been removed and then move on to the next stage.
  2. Next use a P1500 in the same manner, at the end, the lens should look more translucent but still a little milky.
  3. Move on to a P2000 and with a little water on the lens and pad continue in the same manner. Avoid the lens becoming dry. By the end the lens should look a  little cloudy.
  4. Next move on to a P3000 and again with a little water and the same movements. Avoid the lens becoming dry. By the end the lens should look more translucent.
  5. The final stage is to polish the lens until it is clear. Use a polishing pad and compound. Apply the compound to the pad and then dab it on to the lens before switching on the drill. This is to avoid compound being thrown all over. Add more compound as needed. Keep polishing until the lens is clear. Wipe down the lens periodically to check. If there are still defects, go back to the P3000 stage.

How to refurb tail lights with Toothpaste

Ok, now I have your attention. Did you really think I was going to go on about how you can get your lights back to looking brand new using only toothpaste from the bathroom? We all know that this will just not work, unless…. You use it brush your teeth before going out to refurb your lights properly.

It appears to be a common issue on the E39 Touring where the lights on the tailgate start to look faded and battered. They do the same thing on the E53 X5 as well I have noticed. The lights on the Saloon and on the side of the Tourer don’t seem to have the same issue and look sparkling.

Anyway, this has been bugging me for a while and I have looked around on Fleabay to see if I could get some replacement lights or lenses at the very least. Nada. Nothing. Just don’t seem to be able to find them. If anyone has a link to some, please do let me know.

I have watched numerous videos on YouTube on how to refurb your headlights, all the different methods that people use, all the different products, including toothpaste.

It just so happened that in my cellar I had some sponge pads that would fit in the drill and some Halfords compound. Surely this must be worth a try. I set about putting on the masking tape and had a go on one of the lights with the rubbing compound. This did make the lens more smooth to the touch but was no way going to make the lights sparkle as they should.

I have been weighing up getting the Maguires 1-step headlight restoration kit and I nearly bought the kit for this very job whilst at the BMW Festival the other week. The thing that stopped me was that Maguires were selling it at the show for around £23-24 and I knew I could get it at Halfords for £21 (the cheapskate Yorkshireman in me). I had also read that the Autoglym Headlight restoration kit was good to use.

When I got to Halfords both products were in stock, the Autoglym being more expensive at £24.99. As I generally like the Autoglym products I took a punt and paid the little bit extra.

The Maguires product just seems to be a wool pad with some compound and they now throw in a couple of sanding blocks for the harder parts. The Autoglym product comes with the drill attachment, various sanding pads, the sponge pad for polishing and the compound.

As it was a nice warm day I set straight to work. I have to admit that at first I didn’t think that was going to do too well but I persevered and after about 20-30 minutes on each light I was generally chuffed with the outcome. There is a visible difference and when I put the lights on you can actually see the light on now rather than just this foggy mess.

Conclusion

As you can see from these pictures, the results are quite good. This was only the first time I had tried to refurb any lights so I wasn’t expecting too much. I had had my headlights done a few months ago by a proper company and they looked awesome (£35 each lense in case you were wondering). The back lights I have done are not as good but I think if I had spent more time on them they would have come up as good as new. I think it would also have been easier if I had removed the lights from the car. I was desperate not to scratch the paintwork and I think I would have been rougher with the sanding if I had not to worry about this.

All in all, I am pretty chuffed with the results and would certainly recommend the Autoglym product.

Testing PDC with Inpa

Since I took ownership of my car the back PDC (Park Distance Control) sensors have not been working as they should, they beep a lot as though there is something behind me when there isn’t. I used the Inpa software from Cable-Shack to test the individual PDC to see if I could determine if there was one PDC which was at fault. This showed that the driver side middle PDC though that there was something around 50 inches from the car when nothing is behind.

I bought the car in June and around October time it stopped randomly making the noises and worked as I would expect.  It came back to spring again and the issue started again. This time I used the BMW Scanner software to test the PDC module and it reports no errors. It seems like this issue only happens during the summer months as during the winter I had no issues at all, it started to get warmer again and the PDC started to play up again. This time Inpa shows that both the middle PDC are showing something behind the car, at different distances.

The method I used to test the PDC with Inpa is detailed here.

  1. Start the Cable-Shack menu and choose the Inpa menu option.
  2. When Inpa starts, switch on the ignition to position II. The Inpa software should show the battery and Ignition as being on. This is indicated by the circles next to the Battery and Ignition text fields showing as solid black.
  3. Choose E39 as your car. You select E39 by pressing the F3 button or clicking on the E39 button at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Once E39 has been selected you will be shown a menu of options, select Body from the list of items on the left of the dialog, a new list of items will appear on the right. Select Park Distance Control from the list on the right hand side.
    NOTE: You need to double-click on the Park Distance Control item in the list for it to activate.
  5. If you receive a message box with an error message about language variants do not match, ignore this and press the OK button to continue.
  6. The PDC menu screen will appear. We want to look at the status of the PDC sensors so press F5 or press on the Status button at the bottom of the screen. The sensors on the car will be displayed.
    Initially all the displays should show as black as the PDC is not active. Press the PDC button in the car to activate the PDC. In the screenshot above my sensors are showing that there is something close to the passenger side outside sensor (there was a telegraph pole next to the car) and something in close to the passenger side middle sensor (nothing behind the car at this point so I know this is the sensor giving a false reading).
  7. Now you want to locate your laptop somewhere that you will be able to see it when you go outside the car to move behind the sensors.
  8. Leave the car and go and put your hand at various distances around the sensors, you should see the status screen change to reflect where you are around the car. This is all there is to how I test the PDC sensors.

BMW Scanner

As a side note, using BMW Scanner you can look at the programming of the PDC and set various parameters for distances, etc. You can also program the loudness of the noises from the PDC and whether they use the gong or speakers. I have mine configured at maximum volume and have the front PDC warn through the speakers and the rear PDC warn through the Gong.

You can set if there is a noise when the PDC is activated and when it is deactivated. You can set when the PDC will automatically switch off, by speed, distance or if you come out of reverse. I have mine configured to switch off after I have driven about 50 feet.