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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 08-06-2012, 06:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Who can tell me a cheaper obdii code scanner?

I want to buy a obdii code scanner for my BMW E36 for a rainy day. And I find the some in the internet, and the Maciscan FR704 is the cheapest one. But I can't afford the prize. I want I can by a cheaper one. If you know, please tell me. Thank you very much!
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Old 08-10-2012, 04:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If you have a laptop, go to the diagnostic software section of Bimmerforums.com and have a read. No matter what anyone tells you, you need an ADS interface to communicate fully with an E36 - you will find links to software and plenty of information on what program to install and can get an interface that will work with your car for between $80 and $140.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is there any other ideas? please help me!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by David Mc View Post
If you have a laptop, go to the diagnostic software section of Bimmerforums.com and have a read. No matter what anyone tells you, you need an ADS interface to communicate fully with an E36 - you will find links to software and plenty of information on what program to install and can get an interface that will work with your car for between $80 and $140.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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elm327: ELM327 WIFI OBD2 EOBD Scan Tool support Android and Iphone/Ipad
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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ELM327 is useless for an E36. It is a typical generic OBD scanner, which I would not use on any BMW.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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David Mc I think you should reevaluate your response. Now a days an even better (and less expensive too!) is to get a bluetooth OBDII adapter and connect it to your Android smartphone or tablet. The devices are really cheap , i bought mine for $21 (BAFX on AMazon) because it had good reviews from people that it would work with my phone (Droid X) and the smartphone software. The best software i have seen is Torque for Android available on Google Play. Highly recommended and highly customizable.

When i say customizable it has a variety of interfaces you can set up to show real time displays. For data the basic OBDII functions are always covered (as per the industry standard OBDII specification which they HAVE to comply with) and this is the most critical troubleshooting tool you will need. What David Mc is alluding to is supporting specialized PIDS that are specific to BMW, like what they might use for instance to access information and reset data for the airbag systems for instance. So in that regard the bluetooth adapter will support all interface data (including extended PIDS) and the Torque software (which has its own forum btw) also can support PID customization as well.

Face it nothing will every be as good as the factory test system, but that is NOT possible. For literally $21 for the bluetooth adapter and $5 for the Torque software this is a NO brainer. Really useful and it will save you a ton of money. My BMW is older (OBDI) so I have the Peake Research tool, but i have used the described setup on my other cars (VW and Japanese) and it works great! I have access to extended PIDS (specific to my cars manufacturers) for several of my cars.

There is absolutely NO reason a generic OBDII reader would not work on an OBDII compliant BMW (post 1996) and in fact i have used my setup on a friends E36. You will get access to all the basic codes without a problem.

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Old 09-12-2013, 03:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Flotsam, there are a number of reasons why a generic OBDII reader is not the way to go with a BMW - firstly, OBD is a US initiative only and Euro-spec cars such as are in widespread use elsewhere in the world (Europe, UK, Japan and Australia) did not have to be OBD compliant until much later than 1996 - in fact in some countries, not until 2007. Secondly OBD relates only to emissions-related matters, so provides very limited access to the diagnostic modules of BMWs (typically only the DME and EGS). The P**** codes generated by OBD tools also represent a compromise and do not always reflect the more comprehensive list of BMW diagnostic trouble codes which are available from the BMW diagnostic system with 100% accuracy. Thirdly the bulk of pre-MY2000 BMW's require an ADS-compliant interface to gain full access to the diagnostic system, which the ELM327 cannot do.
If you just want to play with your car, fine go the WiFi and smartphone option, but if you expect to do any real diagnostic work, requiring access to ABS, ZKE (Central Body Electronics), DSC, DME, EWS and EGS etc., a generic OBD2 code reader is definitely not the way to go. I actually own Peake tools, a couple of generic OBD SCAN tools in addition to a number of ADS, DCAN and KCAN interfaces and can tell you are lucky to get $26 value from the OBD tools.

Last edited by David Mc; 09-12-2013 at 03:08 AM.
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