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E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

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E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby gmbm » Fri, 10 Jul 2009 22:52:42 UTC

Would be grateful for any advice from anyone who has had similar problems. Car is 1999 523i. First of all, here are my symptons, ASC light on, ABS light on and no speedo. What I've also noticed is that my mpg needle gauge isn't working and my fuel gauge doesn't stay steady. Only developed the fault over the past number of days.

Reading through previous posts and in particular advice posted by gstyle.

Below are the pinouts of the ABS connector which fits into the ABS control module in the engine bay. Thought I'd unplug this connector and I know it's a bit primitive as I think they are hall effect sensors, but measure the resistance. By the way, I'm pretty sure these pinouts are correct, as I unplugged one sensor just to confirm and OK

15 & 16 DSF = 4.86 Mohm
12 & 28 PSF = 4.86 Mohm
30 & 31 DSR = 4.87 Mohm
13 & 29 PSR = 4.11 Kohm.

So based on this information, it looks like my PSR is faulty as it's rerading 4.11 K Ohm compared to the other three which are in the M Ohm range. Then from info posted below by garybmw,

no speedo + abs / asc light on = n/s/r sensor
no cruise control + abs /asc light = o/s/r sensor
niether of these symptoms = front wheel sensor

This double confirms that NSR or if you wish to call it PSR is faulty as similar symptons. However, after reading through many forums particularly in the US, it seems that cars 99 / 00 have a very poor ABS control module. OK, looks like I have a faulty sensor, but I'm just hoping the ABS module hasn't damaged the actual sensor. I will go ahead and replace the sensor, but has anybody else had similar problems especially the NSR which controls speedo. This particular failure on the NSR seems to be the most common, especially in 99 / 00 cars!!!

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Postby gmbm » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 11:30:11 UTC

Would like to know if anyone has changed their rear near side ABS sensor and still having problems.

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Postby Clavurion » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 11:55:11 UTC

The usual fault in these ABS units is broken internal wiring (from wheel speed sensors) from unit connector to circuit board. At first it's usually heat related and occurs after the engine bay has heated up and cures when cold. These faults in the units can be repaired.

Your car definately has problem with left rear wheel speed signal and your measurements point to sensor itself or external wiring (rarely a problem).
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Postby mcdowall » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 15:34:51 UTC

My 530 Sport had been running with DSC & ABS lights
permanently on.

Had my car at BMW Indi this week.
Diagnostic showing N/S/R Sensor
As my speedo was still working my Indi was sure that
the ABS Control Unit was faulty. Told me to find the black
electronic part only.

Fell in with one today for £50 problem solved.


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Postby gmbm » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 20:18:49 UTC

Thanks for the replies so far. I'm trying to get a price for a new NSR sensor, but, can't seem to locate it on the new ECP site. Other option is the dealers, but would like to price around first. If I can get a VDO / Siemens from ECP, I'll go for that. How much from the dealers??

Now that I have checked the resistance on the other good three ( I know primitive ) but at least I have something to go on, and I can measure the resistance on the new one just to double check I have correct type.

Been reading quite a lot about the internal failures of the ABS Control Module as Clavurion has mentioned. So far, with the tests I've done, I'm pretty sure my NSR is gone. Checked wiring and OK.

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Postby garybmw » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 21:03:33 UTC

I own a 98 e39 523i and have had excatly the same problem, my speedo was intermittant tho, abs/asc lights on, mpg gauge worked when the speedo worked and the fuel gauge fluctuated. I took my motor to my brothers garage, where he had pre ordered a new sensor. Whith the car on the ramp an inspection of the excisting sensor, n/s/r, showed it to be perished and cracked. the old sensor was removed ( not without the drill being deployed i might add ) and the replacement sensor fitted. this sensor however turned out to be the wrong one, a perfect fit in the wheel bearing housing but the connection, where it plugs in under the wheel arch was different. My brother got onto the suppliers emmediately and the right sensor arrived about two hours later, after the year AND chasis no. was supplied (perhaps a lesson when ordering the sensor). The correct sensor was fitted.
As soon as I drove off the speedo operated and mpg gauge, all is well thought I, allthough, as I stated earlier the speedo was intermittant. My journey home was about 70 miles, about halfway home the speedo stopped working and abs/asc lights came on. Oh bullucks , not again ! I stopped about two thirds of the way home and when I set off again the abs/asc light stayed out and the speedo worked for the rest of the journey home.
This intermitant operation continued for about a week after replacing the sensor, then one day, about 6 days in, the abs/asc light went out as it should and I have had no problems with the speedo/abs since. I had the sensor replaced about 6 months ago now. My brother has no explanation for this, his garage is not bmw but his qualifacations and experience are excellent.
The sensor cost me about £40, although this was trade price and was genuine bmw. I have read on this forum that non genuine sensors can be false economy, giving false readings or not functioning at all.
I hope my experience with this problem is helpfull and if the problem dosen't seem to go away after the sensor is changed , maybe give it a week or so before persuing other options ?
All the best

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Postby gmbm » Sat, 11 Jul 2009 22:25:25 UTC

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the info - very useful. I'll get it changed hopefully next week and get back with an update.

Just reading through your post I'm just wondering if your car might have a dodgy ABS Control module. Apparently the Bosch units around this era have poor internal soldering - and with the thermal effects of running the car over time - this can cause hairline cracks on the internal solder joints. The Module just screws off with six Torx screws and they can be repaired by a send and repair service. Looks to be a specialised job - not for the faint hearted!!!!

However, fact that your car has been fine for over 6 months suggests you should be OK - just something to keep in mind if it shows up again.

Thanks for the detailed description - I hope mine is just a sensor as well.

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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby Junkie » Sat, 25 Feb 2012 12:08:10 UTC

Howdy folks, an old but very useful thread.

I have changed the rear n/s sensor after intermittent alarms, no speedo etc etc and the problem is still there.

After trying to meter the pin outs as suggested above I can't actually get any readings from anything, so I'll have to make some rigid pins to insert into the plug and measure from them with the meter probes.

I had a look inside the control box itself (Bosch) and its visually ok but I didn't fancy taking it any further myself so put it back!

Refitting the plug made it clear its a snug fit and you can feel the resistance of the pins as they reconnect.

Let's see how it goes...

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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby gmbm » Sat, 25 Feb 2012 17:18:03 UTC

What you need to do on the cable connector side. Use a single core very fine wire so you can insert it into each female pin..... it needs to be small enough, but strong so it can be inserted it. Don't use mutistrand wire as it virtually impossibe to insert......You will need 2 wires. Then set your multimeter on Ohms and check the resistance. Be aware you will get different readings depending on the polority...but jot each down. If you have a faulty sensor, it is easy spotted with the multimeter.

I see your E39 is a 1999, so should be the same as mine. Earlier models have a completely different Bosch ABS unit.

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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby Junkie » Mon, 27 Feb 2012 21:12:26 UTC

I did sort out some pin sized steel wires but absolutely no readings on the ten meg ohm range, not even on auto range.

I'm fairly handy as an electrician with a multimeter so I'm confident the pins were inserted fully, the meter did register when I held both probes as you might expect, my final inspection will be to trace the wire up through the wheel arch cover for damage or poor connection.

After that I'm a bit perplexed, especially with the lack of readings from the multi plug.

The fault is so random that it's often clear for days and then pops up just when I start to relax... Typical.

Does anyone know of anything in the hub carrier that may affect the performance of the sensor?

Maybe crud in there?

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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby artrix » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 15:29:23 UTC

I own a bmw 520i 2.2L e39 2002 Msport Automatic.
When I switch the ignition on and start the engine the ABS and assocated lights go out.
When driving the ABS and assocated lights come on radomly ie I can do a whole journey
and the lights will stay out, or I can travel for a few minutes and the lights will come on.
If this issue is not resolved, and the lights come on during the MOT which is due shortly
The car will fail the test. ( My garage estimates a £1400 JOB)
So I would appreciate some help.


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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby gazza3535 » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 19:30:35 UTC

just to throw in another possible, the module on the back of the ignition switch, is well known to throw up all sorts of problems if its dicky, try changing that, loads of them for sale on ebay for next to nowt, plus its an easy change
just my twopennyth worth
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Re: E39 ABS problem - advice needed.

Postby Dick » Sun, 13 Oct 2013 10:48:59 UTC

In my experience - don't bother fitting non BMW ABS sensors - more trouble that they are worth, at least the BM ones work, and they carry a 2 year guarantee as well! They aren't cheap, I think I paid around £80 for one. The ABS module does go too, but a message to Atrix, it wont cost £1400!! They can be repaired far, far cheaper, my indy carries repaired ones in stock (which goes to show how many fail!), I think mine cost £300 odd including fitting etc - no small amount, but not totally wallet busting! I think there are a few firms that repair them, on almost a by return post basis. It also might be worth contacting Fab Direct near Gloucester for a s/h one, they are an excellent firm, and charge sensible prices!
If in doubt - when all else fails try reading the instructions!!
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