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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 10-20-2003, 01:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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hello all, I am new to the forum and am glad I found it. I just bought a BMW 318iS (1996). Before I bought the car I asked about any misc lights that were on. He noted that the airbag light was on and that he would ahve it fixed. When I drove down to look and test drive the car it was all fine. He said that a new seatbelt sensor(along those lines or something) had been installed and the problem was taken car of. I of course did the simple checks when you turn the ignition key to the on position and the light came on , and then went off once the car was started, as it should I believe. I have had the car for almost a week now without any problems at all. Tonight I turned the car on and the light came on and did not go out. I have done some reading and have seen some of the related issues that may cause this to happen. What are your thoughts on the first things to check. It is my thinking that the problem WAS indeed fixed, as the light never turned on for me until now, so I suspect something else making it turn on(something came loose, seat too far foward, but have not been outside again tonight to check these). What checks can you reccomend, and what are the related costs to have the light reset at a service center. As much information as possible is appreciated and as much detail of course.
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Old 10-20-2003, 12:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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sorry this might not be as detailed as you had hoped...

there are dozens and dozens of little things in the system that can trip the light, the most common as you said is the seat belt buckle sensor. while the PO may have fixed one, the other may have gone bad. also included in the seat belt buckle componentry is the tensioner, and maybe a couple of other related things (don't remember off the top of my head). but replacing the buckle involves replacing the entire tensioner unit anyway because they are conjoined. other things could be doing work on the steering wheel or passenger side dash without first disconnecting battery, or removing seats. i've tripped my light by removing the seats and removing the passenger airbag cover with the battery still on.

there is no sure-fire way to diagnose it without a scan tool. they are not cheap and most people blow them off with the reasoning that "ahh that thing only does srs, but not other engine codes." but look at it this way. you said that one week after the problem had been fixed, the light came on again. to have the codes read and the light reset alone will cost you $100 at the dealer. this is in ADDITION to the acutal repair cost. so, who is to say the light won't go on yet again for another problem? the cost of the tool will have already paid for itself after 1.3 resets. you can even reset the lights of friends' bmws for a small fee and dilute the cost there. and if you eventuall sell your car, you can sell the tool on e-bay and i guarantee it will be a high-demand item.

like i said, they are not cheap, but this is what i use:
http://www.peakeresearch.com/
sorry if this sounded more like a tool commercial. i have no affiliation with this company.
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Old 10-20-2003, 05:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi -

I just had my light reset at a local BMW specialist. I drove in, asked if he could reset my airbag light and he came out with the tool and 5 minutes later it was reset. He didn't charge me anything for this.

After a bit, the light came back on and he said probably a sensor in the "seat" - I'm assuming seat belt sensors but may be something else. He said he's charge me an hour ($75) to diagnose and find a solution.

My advice - find a BMW specialist who can help you. I asked the dealer and just to hook up the computer for a reset was quoted $90 plus the repairs on top of that.

Good luck.

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Old 10-20-2003, 05:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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cool, I have some jump off points at least. how much does the reset tool cost and does it tell me what the problem is at all. is this tool just for bmw cars, or does it work for various import cars as well. That is, I have a few friends who might know someone who has one possibly. Seems like a really stupid problem that I wish I could make dissapear. Everything else is gret on the car though.
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Old 10-21-2003, 01:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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i think it is $129 at the website above. and yes, it has a booklet which lists all the codes and tells you exactly what the problem is. it will read the codes. then if you want it to, it will reset the srs light. i think it only works for bmws.
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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the tool just might be what i need. Will it work for anything other than reseting the airbag, or is it one of those things that pays for itself the first time you use it, and then you may be lucky enough for it to get used again, or just sell on ebay once you sell the car. if anyone lives in Maine that would be appreciated if we could hook up, but I am not betting on that for the most part. I will proly just get the tool at my liesure, reset the airbag and attempt to fix whatever it is that is making it go off, but ulimately, i trust the seatbelt to save my life, as it has in the past. Since I have totaled a few vehicles in my days without the airbag ever going off, I dont put much faith in them anyway.
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was looking at the Peake Research website for the scan tools you mentioned to look at. I see two or three different tools, one was for the mini I believe. The frist two how have me confused. There is one for 149 which I was given the link to, but I am not sure if that will work for my airbag light, or will it. The second reset tool is for 129 and does say it is for the airbag. I want to get the more expensive of the two tools because it reads all the codes i think, but i am not sure that it will do anything for the airbag lights, or will it. I will call the company tomorrow, but any insight here would be appreciated. thanks
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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my airbag light is on too... i would just let it go buuuut i gotta get it inspected in a couple weeks.... im just hopin one of the cheaper ways out is the problem or else im gonna be pissed
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i am just hoping that the 149 dollar tool can service the airbag light too, cuz it does all of the check engine lights etc. If it does the airbag light, then it is definately worth the money in my opinion, even to reset the stupid maintence light, for those of us who do our own work, like me.
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Old 10-22-2003, 03:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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no, they are different.

1. the R5/FCX only does engine codes & service & oil lights.

2. the R5/SRS only does airbag codes & airbag light.

3. the R5A/B only resets oil/inspection lights. no codes. i do not recommend this one because there are plenty of people here that can tell you how to reset the oil/inspection lights without this tool.


as far as paying for itself, just doing a couple of scans will pay for it right there. some shops will read the codes for you & reset the light for free... but there is a condition that you agree to let them fix it at the shop rate.

even if you do have to take it to a shop if it turns out to be a terribly complex problem, at least you can keep them honest by knowing what the problem is beforehand because you read the codes. but in most cases it turns out the be seatbelt buckle related, which is basically a DIY.
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Old 10-22-2003, 06:29 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I got the ASSENMACHER Airbag/OilSERVICE/inspection reset tool. It was $149.00. Well worth the money considering how much a BMW dealer would charge. They would keep the car an hour or two and do all the diagnostic checks, etc. which would cost far more than the price of the tool. I wouldn't bother getting the PEAKE tool which reads codes unless you know what the codes mean and have skills in troubleshooting and repairing. As for the airbag light itself, it will reset and extinguish as long as no faults exist. But this light has proven to be a nuisance, nothing more.
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by BMWer+Oct 22 2003, 03:09 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (BMWer @ Oct 22 2003, 03:09 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I wouldn't bother getting the PEAKE tool which reads codes unless you know what the codes mean and have skills in troubleshooting and repairing.[/b]

i thought i addressed that concern:
<!--QuoteBegin-DesmoBob

it has a booklet which lists all the codes and tells you exactly what the problem is. it will read the codes. then if you want it to, it will reset the srs light.[/quote]



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Quote:
As for the airbag light itself, it will reset and extinguish as long as no faults exist. But this light has proven to be a nuisance, nothing more.
the BMW nuisance light. let's extinguish that light without even knowing what the problem was!
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Phunk and Rockyman, I am in the same boat. Failed state inspection becuase the Airbag light is on. The stealership said it was the Airbag it's self that caused the light to come on. So I replaced the AB and had the light reset. Low and behold the light came back on. Now the code says "Control Unit Power Supply" I have been told this is from me disconnecting the batteryt when I swapped the AB. Autozone will not reset the light becuase my E36 is a 95 and they only do the Free check on 96 and above models. I will probably by the tool since it is cheaper then the dealership at $125 for the diagnostics.

Just an question. What would happen if I just removed the bulb from the dash? That would get rid of the light, but would it trip something else in the computer?

Just an FYI, the stealership wanted to charge me $1500 for the AB and labor. I got the AB for $100 from Bavarian Auto Graveyard and it takes 15 minutes to install, and that includes 10 minutes for the capasitor to unload.

Goodluck
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:35 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Airbag light

My 1996 325tds had the same. I left the passenger window open, it rained and the seat was soaked. I dried the seat ,but a few days later the airbag light came on. The agents reset it but 2 days later it came on again. After the second reset and leaving the car in the sun a lot the problem resolved itself. I now have the same on the e39 528i. This time no water though. I had it reset a few times. The light stays out for a while, even with someone sitting in the seat. The just from nowhere when someone sits there again, the light comes on. According to diagnostics it is the seat occupancy sensor. Apparantly a mat type of thing between the sponge and the leather that needs to be repalced. Hope this helps.
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