Have BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) to read all the basic systems, more than 8 BMW scanners are advised and attached with genuine user’s reviews, these scanners include INPA software running with K+DCAN cable, ISTA, EDIBAS, PA Soft, NCS Expert, WinKfp, Foxwell nt530/ nt520/, Schwaben unit, X431 Diagun, Autel Maxi check pro, snap-on solus pro, Peake R5/FCX-3 OBD2 reader etc. The price ranges from 18usd(INPA) to Foxwell NT530 (179usd) to over 600USD (lanunch, autel).
- So, have you considered theINPAsoftware suite . It is free. Though it requires a cable that costs about $30, and a Windows laptop with a USB port.
INPA of course reads pretty much everything. It displays faults in German however.
Here is one INPA software for free:
Google “bmw k+dcan cable switch” to buy the cable, actually, as to the INPA software, you will get it on a CD when you buy that cable., and then you don’t need to take risk to download the free software with virus.
- There are various links in the forum to download EDIBAS (OS for INPA) or you can get prepackaged deals or other direct providers.
Depending on the version you may need either a WindowsXP SP3 System, emulator, or modern. It may need to be a standalone unit (nothing else on it). You may also need to “tinker” with the files so everything works.
INPA is the developer level software: powerful and if you mess up van brick stuff.
DIS is the old-school dealer level: more limited but can do everything a dealer can do, harder to brick.
ISTA is the modern dealer level: roughly same as DIS just different layout.
Each has their lovers and haters. You have the cabin connection only, so easier for you to use but still awkward if Test driving etc.
If you were closer I’d let you use my extra EDIBAS system, but by the time of paying shipping to CA you’d probably have a handheld or other system paid (or mostly) for.
Another option is the Creator 310 (might have a 510 now?). It is a handheld scanner for about $40-50. It is fine but only a scanner (no coding or programming) for diagnostics. I’d say about 20%(?) have had issues of incorrect readings or not working out of the box.
I have a review of the Foxwell/Schwaben unit on the forum, same on the Carly.
There are others (autel, SnapOn, etc) with varying levels of capability and price.
- I use a couple of things:
I have a Peake R5/FCX-3 OBD2 reader that I keep in the car. It is powered by the OBD port and reads and clears most BMW-specific codes, although it does not reset the ABS light. . It has a small paper manual that lists the codes. you can pick one up used on Ebay or craigslist for $50.I also have INPA, PA Soft, NCS Expert, WinKfp, etc loaded on a dedicated windows XP laptop with the appropriate cable. I uses these tools to code in or out certain features – like turning off automatic door lo locks. daytime running lights, etc. I can also use these tools to read and clear error codes.I really try to avoid the “generic” readers that just list “p” codes, but I recently purchased OBDFusion on my iphone and use it with a wifi OBD2 reader. It provides live data while driving and has some great logging capabilities. I have used it recently to identify a lean condition I am working to fix.
I personally use Foxwell NT530 with BMW software (ordered nt520 they sent me a nt530, saying nt530 can cover F series models), it is a plug-and-play scanner without loaded on one computer.
Very pleased. it performed Check codes, bleed brakes, see live data, compare data, clear codes all done with ease and I can keep it in the door pocket of the car to carry with me all the time.
I have the buy the cable software is free and use a laptop setup for another car (Durametric) and much prefer a handheld.
Foxwell NT530 is the best scanner for the money.
if your car is preface lift you will need the 16pin to 20pin round cable to read all modules in the car from under the hood.
And for BMW diagnosis / scan, purchase Foxwell NT530 with BMW software preinstalled will be better.
Differences between the ECS/Schwaben and Foxwell:
Both are 100% the same, they have same functionalities. Foxwell is the maker of the software and producer of the tool. So, Schwaben and ECS gets their support from Foxwell.
- I use SnapOn Modis Edgeand it works well. I cannot code keys but can see about every module.
- Carly has had a ton of BMW users, but lately has had a ton of bad press for lack of support, etc. Caveat emptor
- Just got Launch X431 Diagun, shipped directly from China, I opened the box but didn’t have time to register and set it up yet. It said to be able to do bi-directional control and is pretty powerful professional level scanner, I am excited to try on my 3 cars, E39 540i, E70 X5 and 2nd gen Saab 9-3. My 540i has this trifecta for over a years, I think I need to bleed ABS, this scanner can do ABS bleeding, it even said it can program keys, I saw someone on youtube programmed a Chevy key with this scanner.
- I have an old snap-on solus pro, works fine on all modules i also have an Autel Maxi check pro, also works fine with all modules, for the price & what it can do im really happy with it.
Really depends on the depths you want to go, usability, and where/when. A laptop requires a cable power(or dependable battery), a handheld is powered from the vehicle, and there is also the smartphone option (powered from vehicle). Each has pros and cons with varying levels of support and cost.