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failed hydro unti + sensor = BIG unexpected bill - need advice

Discussion in 'E46 (1999-2006)' started by SRH2004330cic, Jul 3, 2010.

    SRH2004330cic guest

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    My E46 chassis (2004 CCI convert) is lovely. I luv the darned thing but BMW bit me hard the other day.

    After zero problems and less than 50,000 miles, "brake" light lit on dash with warning light in center. Dealer said it might mean brake pads. The say, "code found hydro unit for ABS and sensor internal malfunction" Est cost $3,700 because warranty expired two months ago (my fault for not tracking).

    Girl went on the say it would take two weeks just to get the parts because there are only two units in USA.

    Car is drivable but no ABS, they say.

    I want to get the car fixed so I can ethically and legally get rid of it. Auto trans with no warranty is too big a risk for this guy.

    Live in Ocean City MD but can get to Annapolis or DC area.
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    MGarrison

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    Sounds like it's time to hit the junkyards or BMW dismantlers & a good indy shop (assuming you find the part and don't want to swap it yourself). Sounds like it may be a bit of an unusual failure, if there's only two in the dealer parts network, but that's only a guess.

    I consider Anti-lock braking systems to be a big plus, but they've only become relatively universal in the U.S. in the last 20 years - the car should drive and stop without ABS.

    It's pretty easy to see if your ABS is working - all you have to do is brake really hard (as in, emergency stop hard) and if your tires lock up, obviously there's no ABS. No reason to skid to a stop though and risk flat-spotting your tires. Don't try that test with anyone behind you, they wouldn't be expecting you to come to a screeching halt for no obvious reason.

    I don't think there's anything illegal or unethical about selling a car with mechanical faults as long as full disclosure is provided to the prospective buyer.

    M3Driver guest

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    It is an unusual failure. Ours went out on our 2000 528i when the vehicle was out of warranty at about 60000 miles. The service manager contacted BMW NA and we each split the repair cost 3 ways. I was out about $500.00. The part did have to be ordered from Germany.

    It's worth a shot.
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    CRKrieger

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    So is mine. I prefer it that way.
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    az3579

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    +1.

    Though, with an automatic, it isn't a very pleasant feeling braking without ABS. The "drive" in an automatic completely ruins the feel of the brakes.

    I can actually floor my brakes and they'll stop at 100% efficiency and not lock up. I love it!

    alstroberg guest

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    not an uncommon failure..

    The ABS control unit can be repaired - I have used BBA ReMan & very happy with their product. (http://www.bba-reman.com/catalogue/Products.aspx?category=53)

    You can still drive the car without the unit- just no abs.
    Dealers will not send these out for repair so they only sell you a complete abs unit, which you probably don't need.
    The failure can also can also be caused by wheel speed sensors. They're relatively cheap but not obvious when it is the culprit.
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    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    The problem is not normally the ABS hydraulic unit, the problem is the brain. Get it remaned as mentioned in the previous post. It usually costs less than $300! If you can't pull the brain yourself (it is attached to the ABS pump) take it to a good indy shop.

    SRH2004330cic guest

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    Thanks all for comments

    I live in Maryland and our inspection before sale doesn't allow a non-functioning part. So, I'm going to fix the machine.

    RE: the statement "the problem is the brain. Get it remaned as mentioned in the previous post. It usually costs less than $300!" I have talked with an indie shop and they quote $250 to install a new wheel ABS sensor and $1,500 to install a reman hydro unit.

    I need help to understand the lexicon. what's the difference between a hydro unit and "the brain"? Is there a chip in the hydro unit that is the brain? I'm confused.

    alstroberg guest

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    take a look at the link I provided above. Here it is again (http://www.bba-reman.com/content.aspx?content=bmw_bosch_abs_pumps).
    Look at the picture on the right with the things that look like thread spools- that is the controller unit. Taking it off takes ~ 6 screws & a wire connector. It is not connected to the hydraulic unit so you don't have to worry about brake fluid etc.
    Send the unit off to bba-reman & you get it back in a few days, repaired. Unless it is OK (they test before "fixing") then it is probably a wheel speed sensor which is ~$90.

    talk to them- you'll save yourself a pantload of money
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    lkchris

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    No ABS can mean LOTS more than simply braking like it used to be in the "good old days."

    It means also no traction control of any kind, i.e. no Dynamic Stability Control, no Electronic Brake Proportioning, no Dynamic Brake Control.

    Not really something ethically "recommended" on a forum.
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    bcweir

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    I have NONE of the items mentioned in this sentence

    My car has NONE of those things, but it does have ABS. Nothing ethically wrong with my car for that reason.

    The automatic transmissions in the E46 3-series are known failure items. My standpoint regarding this issue is that if he can restore functionality to the car for $90, $300, $500, instead of nearly $4,000, I'd say go for it.

    Lastly, I want to point out two very important things: 1) These are not Toyotas and they're not Hondas, and have nothing in common with those brands. 2) And no, all cars are NOT the same. I am certainly not defending what's probably a worthless GM transmission in that E46, but it's time to take your reality pill: it's a 6 year old car with 50,000 miles on it. It's time to check your heart and your wallet for the level of financial and emotional investment in this vehicle. This ABS issue is going to be just the tip of the maintenance iceberg. You're going to start seeing a lot more maintenance needs with this car as it ages and accumulates mileage. This is part and parcel with owning this vehicles, and if that's a problem for you, it might be time to check your expectations and act accordingly. Not even Hondas and Toyotas run indefinitely without maintenance. BMW's simply cost more to maintain BECAUSE they are BMW's.

    A better alternative would probably be to buy an E46 with a manual transmission, and learn to row your own gears if you don't know how already. While the stickshift cars still need maintenance too, the manual E46 cars have shown to be generally less problematic than automatics.

    This is why people who don't want the financial and emotional investment of maintaining a car as it ages LEASE these cars then dump them before the warranty expires. Sure you get a warranty, but you don't get the satisfaction of OWNING the vehicle by leasing it. When you turn it in, you walk away from it and have nothing to show for what you have spent in lease payments.

    Up to you. Good luck.
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    CRKrieger

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    It CAN mean that, but it doesn't on mine. All it means is no ABS - because the E28 doesn't have any of those other things.
    I didn't "recommend" it. I merely observed it.

    Even without all the 'nanny' aids you list, the car should be perfectly driveable on the street. The average observant driver should need none of those to drive safely. Certainly, no one driving on the street should rely on them (except, possibly, in snow).
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    Zeichen311

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    All of which are driver aids, none of which is absolutely necessary for safe operation of the vehicle. While it's worth pointing out that an ABS problem may disable a substantial number of these assistive technologies, it does not instantly turn the car into a rolling deathtrap. There's nothing unethical about reminding someone they can still drive their car even when it is no longer doing its best to compensate for their every mistake.
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    lkchris

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    Oh, electronic stability control is now required on all new vehicles.

    An ethical mechanic wouldn't risk the liability of letting a vehicle with nonfunctioning ABS and traction control systems leave the shop without being fixed.

    Rationalizations aren't good enough.
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    bcweir

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    The mechanic won't let him leave his shop without working ABS?

    Man, I hate agreeing with Krieger, but he's nailed this one. He's absolutely correct. NotTheStig is correct too. There's no reason the vehicle can't be driven CAREFULLY.

    What's the tech going to do -- build a fence around the vehicle to keep the motorist from leaving? Have you actually been to a service center lately? These service techs are way too busy doing their jobs to bother playing "safety police" too. Chances are, they're going to talk to the motorist, adult to adult, warn them of the diminished functionality and let them take their chances. No law on the books mandates unwanted service on a vehicle (and certainly not for free), but by the same token, a service center isn't going to be liable if the motorist ignores the advice and drives off. A customer still has to sign off on a work order before work can be performed. No work will be performed without this signature -- no matter how grave the car's diagnosis. A customer is perfectly free to decline service and even drive off. Of course, if the customer gets into an accident, it's THAT motorist who will be liable (and likely ticketed) for driving an "unsafe" vehicle.

    I'd love to visit this planet you're talking about. You know, the one that legally mandates that a shop repair safety issues on a vehicle. I've never heard of that one, and chances are, it's a new one on most service centers too.

    BMW would not have engineered the ABS without also engineering a way of operating the car in the event of a systems failure. ABS is designed to allow the vehicle to be operated as a non-ABS-equipped vehicle in the event of a failure of the ABS system. Of course, any systems that rely on the ABS will also be offline as well (traction control, DSC, stability control, etc). However, the vehicle should still be driveable as a conventional non-ABS vehicle.

    There's no way BMW would engineer a car that would be inoperable if the ABS failed. Do you have any idea how many squads of lawyers would be lining up to sue BMW for stranding motorists with no backup to an ABS failure?

    That goes for every other auto manufacturer. They spent millions of dollars testing these systems (usually manufactured by Bosch, Siemens, TRW, etc) to ensure they won't later get sued for millions in liability costs specifically for this reason. No customer in the world would buy a car that would be inoperable in the event of an ABS failure -- which is why there is every reason the car should still be operable as a non-ABS vehicle.

    Just don't do any hard braking or panic stops, or any other high speed shenanigans requiring one of the offline systems. Put simply, don't drive the car like an idiot because the electronic nannies are offline.
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    Zeichen311

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    Yes, the law requires stability control systems on all new vehicles. That's at the time of sale, after which any fool or purist is free to rip them out or voluntarily switch them off (until some vote-seeking legislator sees fit to criminalize tampering with them). It requires airbags for certain vehicle classes, which likewise could be disabled without criminal penalty by a sufficiently motivated fool. It also requires prominent, ugly, difficult-or-impossible-to-remove warning stickers about the dangers of said airbags--which impart no information not already provided in the owner's manual--with no penalty for their removal by the owner. It requires an interlock to prevent shifting an automatic transmission into gear unless the brake pedal is depressed. That, too, carries no penalty if disabled or malfunctioning. It requires (or soon will) tire pressure monitoring systems and again, does not require them to be maintained.

    The list goes on and the pattern should be obvious. All of these "features" were mandated in the name of "safety." In fact they are as much or more about reducing liability, insurance payouts and the degree of personal responsibility expected of a motor vehicle operator. Anti-tampering clauses, where included, can be nothing more than coercive measures to minimize the cost of enforcing regulations of dubious merit.

    Are there risks and possible non-criminal consequences to any of these scenarios? Of course. Nonetheless, the ethical and in most cases, legal responsibility of a mechanic begins and ends at advising the owner that certain safety-related systems have failed and require attention. (A failed system that makes the car a significant threat to other motorists would be an exception.) All anyone here has done is educate the OP on the precise nature of these systems and what the vehicle can (and cannot) do until they are repaired.

    Rational arguments are not the same as rationalizations.
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    CRKrieger

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    Don't I know it! ;)
    This is the point. Although my E28 doesn't have any of this stuff, my wife's X-Type Jaguar does - pretty much all of it. We have had a failed ABS sensor take out those systems in the summer and, other than the light on the dash saying so, she never would have noticed. It did put the engine into 'limp home' mode (which limited rpm to 4500, IIRC), so I noticed that; but she doesn't rev it that high. Her main encounters with the traction control system occur in winter when it takes over to brake an inside rear on corners or limits straight line acceleration or any braking on extremely slick surfaces. Even then, she could easily drive around it if the systems didn't intervene. Most people I've instructed in all kinds of driver schools are the same way. Very few of us routinely operate near the limits of traction, where these systems make a difference - and most who do tend to regard them as more of a nuisance than a benefit. :D
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    bcweir

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    That's one thing I like about my 750iL

    It's a very fast, comfortable and luxurious automobile, yet has very few nannies aside from ONE airbag (I don't have eight or nine exploding pillows going off in my face), ABS, and limp home mode. No traction control, no ASC, no DSC, no EDC, etc. That means if I screw it up, it's my fault. I can't blame it on some electronic chip taking a dump on itself and scattering its silicon all over its own motherboard.

    It also means "buckle up, fool." That seatbelt is not a fashion accessory, and it's NOT some frilly unnecessary option I have the luxury of skipping (you wouldn't believe how many people write in these internet forums asking how to disable the seatbelt reminder because they don't feel like buckling up and don't want to be reminded). Why not skip the vehicle purchase and buy yourself a nice coffin instead?

    Nothing against you people with the modern techmobiles, but this is what a REAL car feels like. My car doesn't second-guess me or try to correct my driving, and it doesn't distract me with every bell and whistle conceivable. Paul Duchene even wrote about an Australian interactive-speed limit system. Yeah, just what we need -- a big electronic blurb in my windshield yelling "HEY DID YOU KNOW THE SPEED LIMIT IS ONLY 70 MPH? SLOW THE F--K DOWN OR I'M CALLING THE COPS!" Freaking killjoy -- even if I am only doing 5 mph over the limit.

    What's next, an inflatable, talking "mother-in-law" in the backseat? You married guys ought to love that one.

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