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Old 12-29-2009, 01:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation warning lights issue and more. pls. help!

Hi all,

a while ago I got my 2001 BMW 525ia's seat belt light went on, and stay on after start...then days later the air bag light goes on and stay on after start.

then a few days later, the seat belt light never light on, just the air bag light stays on... then days later the lit air bag light becomes dimmed and eventually stoped light on.

at this point, the seat belt and air bag lights won't lit in any circumstance, including when ignition key is in pre-start position.

the steering wheel function keys are not working except for the heater, when button pressed, it will lit up and heat up. after a while the green LED dot also becomes dimmed and almost non-noticeable if it is on or off, however the heater still works.

radio display sometimes flashing, and the clock display won't show up when not listening on audio ( I think it supposed to display time when audio not turned on) but when in normal driving, the radio display seems working better.

seat heater lights are not on, but I didn't test it long to see if actually it produce heat like the steering wheel heater does.

vanity mirror will make the central light goes on.

since those are trivial, and I thought it just some electronical connection issue, maybe the fuse, so I didn't do anything. after checking the fuses are fine. I knew it is more complicated than I hoped.

then a few days ago, the fail-safe tranny light went on, shutting the car off, then try again, it will go on eventually if not immediately.

shortly before that, I can feel the transmission was trying to shift down when I was driving normally (feels like someone is pulling you from behind when you are running).

now I am more worried.

brought it to a servce garage, have it scanned by the autologic computer, has 19 errors. reset them (to see how it works). at the same time the mechanic found my brake light is always on. tried a new brake switch but it didn't solve the issue, the mechanic tried to reprogrammed the lamp module, first time didn't work, 2nd time it worked, so then the fail-safe tranny light goes off. the mechanic ask me to see if the warning light will go on again, if so, I need to bring it back.

I drove it on local, feels good, goes on a highway, when I accelerate to 120KM/Hr, the fail-safe tranny light goes on again. but when I shut the car off and on again, the tranny light is not lighting up (so far after 5 times started the car in the past two days)

that is all up to now. the car now still runs well except the seat belt light and air bag lights always stay off and no function keys on steering wheel works (except for the heater). But I do want to clear things up and got them fixed before it causing more confusion... my car only have 92000KM on it, so I wouldn't think any mechanic issue with the transmission?

Can someone tell me if I shall check the ignition switch as well? and if so how? and how to clean it? the ignition switch is not very expensive, isn't it? or it is actually costly.

thanks for helping!
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
OMFG another one!?
 
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What about a look at the issues the error codes pointed out?
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There is a thread on the bimmerforums that looks really close to what you are describing .symtoms of faulty ignition switch. check it out there is a vid. you can watch.
good luck....
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi All,

I am happy to report that the problem resolved. and I didn't replace anything (knocking on the wood!!!)

what happened is I went over to a BMW dealer and bought the ignition switch. before I left, I asked if I HAVE TO disconnect the battery before installing it. a nice service consultant said he would do that just to be safe (of course). then we chatted about why I need this ignition switch and after I describe all those funky symptoms, he said it might not be the ignition switch, doesn't sound like it, as there are just too many weird errors... and there are all kinds of error code in my scan record (using autologic). On the other hand, he said they experienced a lot of funky symptoms like mine and the culprit proved to be the under charged battery! he recommend I returned the ignition switch first and only get it when I am 100% sure. and the parts department guy took it back because I haven't left the premise (electronic parts are not returnable as a general rule).

I went back home and pull out my Eliminator battery charger. the reading (although might not be very accurate, as I think BMW battery has much higher capacity, so the % reading might not be accurate) is 70%, my hope dimmed a little bit. but charged it to 100% anyway. disconnect, start the car, at first, still same symptoms, at that time, I said to myself, well, at the end, I would have to buy the switch anyway... but wait, I pull down the visor and slide the mirror, magic! all the lights went normal (seat belt light lit up as supposed) and horn, steering wheel control, radio, heater... everything are normal.

so now I just proved that what the gentleman said was 100% correct. my lack of driving mileage caused battery undercharged and all the sensors are triggered. it happened to lot of newer BMW models (not on the older models though, as I was told there were not so many electronic gadgets in older models)

so if your driving pattern might cause bettery undercharge (always up and down around 50%, in my case, even 70% reading from a battery charger, is not enough), just charge it from time to time, it will keep it less troublesome.

p.s. there is one gentleman (Qsilver7) on a forum pointed out the battery check video on youtube, which I should have paid attention to, but I guess I was just too confident on the battery (as it never fail to start and my BMW was not E38 so the battery check trick didn't apply to me) but looking back, all those fainted warning lights, my remote key operational range decreased... all those funky symptoms should have warned me the under powered battery! I just learned my way this time.

the BMW dealer I went to was North York Parkview BMW in Toronto, the nice parts guy was Steve, and the very nice service guy was Juris. thank them to make my day... they are really customer service oriented, although the result was I didn't buy anything from them yesterday. but I received confidence on them!
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thats great news its sorted, most things on BMW's are down to the battery....I know I have an e38....
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