BMW E93 – Which diagnostic tool is the best?


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You are the proud owner of a BMW E93 and want to know more about your car? You want to save yourself unnecessary workshop costs and prefer to perform vehicle diagnostics yourself or maybe even personalize certain vehicle functions? It is not necessary to run to the mechanic immediately for every warning light. You can get a diagnostic tool for your BMW E93 instead and take matters into your own hands. There is a wide range of such tools and in this article we would like to help you find the right diagnostic tool for your BMW E93.

Which diagnostic tool is best suited to your BMW E93? Given the variety of available tools suitable for the BMW E93, prices naturally vary. For example, you can get a simple scanner for reading error codes for only 30 euros, or professional devices with a variety of functions that cost several thousand euros. An excellent and cost-effective solution is the Carly app and scanner. The Carly app costs between €21 and €80 annually, while you can purchase the Carly Universal OBD scanner for a one-time €59.90.

In this article, we will give you a comprehensive overview and show you what to look for when buying a diagnostic tool for your BMW E93.

The BMW E93 – the very special Bavarian convertible

The BMW E93 is a convertible from BMW’s popular 3 Series. With its distinctive body shape, powerful engine and open-top driving experience, the E93 embodies the ultimate in driving fun in the sun. Let’s take a closer look at the model history, the various trim options, and the special features of this remarkable vehicle.

The model history of the BMW E93 goes back to 2007, when it was first launched. It was the successor of the BMW E46 convertible and was produced until 2013. During its production period, there were several facelifts and model variants to meet individual customer preferences.

The various models of the BMW E93 offer a wide range of options tailored to different needs and driver profiles. The base model is the 328i, which offers a 3.0-liter inline-six engine with an output of 230 hp. For those looking for even more power, the 335i is available. This model is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged engine that puts an impressive 306 hp on the road. There is also a diesel option in the form of the 330d with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel engine and an output of 245 hp. All E93 models are equipped with an electric soft top that allows you to open or close the roof at the touch of a button for the ultimate convertible experience.

What really makes the BMW E93 stand out, however, is not just the different models, but also the special features of the vehicle. The E93 has excellent roadholding and precise handling, making it a real pleasure to drive. The premium interior offers comfort and luxury at the highest level, while the latest technology such as navigation systems, Bluetooth connectivity and a high-quality audio system make the driving experience even more enjoyable. The soft top provides effective noise and heat insulation, so you can enjoy a quiet and pleasant ride even at higher speeds.

BMW E93 – image by ahlop1988 on Pixabay

Basic knowledge

Before suggesting the most suitable diagnostic tool for your BMW E93, let us first introduce you to the basics of vehicle diagnostics. This will help you better understand the different elements. If you are already familiar with these basics, you should still take the time to read the text in its entirety so that new information is not lost on you.

Types of diagnostic tools

To perform vehicle diagnostics, you need the right diagnostic tool. Basically, there are three different types on the market: standalone external devices, laptop software, and smartphone apps. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, but in our opinion, the smartphone app is the best solution, as its advantages far outweigh the few disadvantages.

External diagnostic tools usually have a small screen and are well suited for simple diagnostics. The exception is equipment for workshops, which cost thousands of euros, but give up mobility. Portable external diagnostic tools may be inexpensive, but offer limited features and small screens that only display error codes. You will then have to determine the meaning of the codes by doing your own research. Plus, you always have to take the device with you when you travel, which requires extra organization.

Laptop software is rather unsuitable for the average car owner or car enthusiast, as both the laptop and the associated adapter cable have to be carried along. The software must be purchased and may not be updated regularly. When updates do occur, they are often chargeable, which increases the overall cost in the long run. Nevertheless, laptop solutions offer extensive diagnostic capabilities and the computer’s large screen can display a lot of data.

By and large, smartphone apps prove to be particularly practical, as the smartphone is always at hand. The apps are user-friendly, offer a wide range of features, and are usually updated regularly and for free. Our top recommendation is the Carly app. In addition to comprehensive diagnostic functions, it offers a number of other functions, which we will explain in more detail in the course of this article.

Error codes system

Vehicles are equipped with many control units, each responsible for a specific system. Within these control units, certain parameters are set within which the connected systems should function properly. When deviations occur, error codes are created and stored. There are tens of thousands of such error codes, known as DTC (Data Trouble Codes), which are divided into two categories: international standardized codes and manufacturer-specific codes. Almost all diagnostic tools can read general fault codes, but only manufacturer-specific scanners and smartphone apps can interpret manufacturer-specific fault codes.

However, the error codes all have the same structure and consist of five characters. The first character indicates the general fault area: B for body, C for chassis, P for powertrain (engine and transmission) and U for the communication network(OBD interface). The second character indicates whether the error is a standard error (“1”) or a manufacturer-specific error code (“2”). The third character, a number between 1 and 8, specifies the affected system in more detail. Finally, the fourth and fifth characters (numbers from 00 to 99) describe the actual error.

Simple diagnostic tools only show you the general error code, e.g. P1588 or U0463. After that, you need to research online to find out what these codes mean, what their causes are, and what corrective actions are needed. Higher quality devices also provide a description. The best apps, such as Carly, even analyze the errors and let you know which ones should be fixed urgently, which ones can be dealt with later, and which ones can be ignored.

BMW E93 – image by Toby Parsons on Pixabay

Control units in the BMW E93

Each ECU in your BMW E93 is an independent mini-computer that manages a specific system in the vehicle. For example, one control unit might regulate the air conditioning, while another monitors engine performance, and so on. In total, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of these control units in your car. They are all connected to each other and to the OBD2 interface via a central communication network that forms the vehicle’s communication infrastructure.

Many deviations from the specifications stored in a control unit are corrected directly by the unit itself, so that the connected systems can continue to run smoothly. In such cases, an error code is generated, but it usually has little relevance. However, larger deviations that the device cannot correct independently can trigger a warning to the driver or lead to a significant error. The Carly app interprets these error codes and presents the most critical ones in descending order. You’ll also get a report on the general condition of your vehicle – more on that later.

Access to the OBD2 port

The aforementioned OBD2 port is accessible via a socket located on your BMW E93 below the dashboard and near the brake pedal on the left side. An external diagnostic device can be connected to the vehicle via this port. It is essential to use a reliable OBD2 scanner to ensure effective communication. Inferior scanners could misinterpret errors or even cause damage to the control units. The scanner converts commands into a language that the vehicle understands. When using an external diagnostic device or laptop software, the connection is usually wired, while a mobile app uses an OBD2 device such as the Carly 20-pin scanner, which communicates wirelessly with the smartphone or tablet. Bluetooth or WLAN are the usual connection technologies. The scanner can remain permanently connected as needed, such as for real-time monitoring, or can be stored in the glove box or similar storage when not in use.

For those who are interested, OBD stands for on-board diagnostics. This standard was introduced in the U.S. over four decades ago to monitor all exhaust-related values of a vehicle. The aim is to warn the driver if, for example, emission levels are too high. However, it is the driver’s responsibility whether or not to take appropriate action. This situation could change with the introduction of the OBD3 standard, which is currently under development. With this new standard, faults in exhaust systems would be reported directly to competent authorities, possibly via a SIM card or satellite. In such cases, the driver could be required to repair the system within a certain period of time, or else penalties could apply. It is still unclear whether and when this new standard will also be introduced in Europe.

The role of the CAN bus in the BMW E93 (for technology enthusiasts)

We’ve talked before about the “information superhighway” in your vehicle. This data highway is the CAN bus system in your BMW E93. On this “highway”, data packets move continuously from one station to the next. For example, when you make a new setting in the app, this command is sent to the OBD2 adapter via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). There, the integrated ELM 27 chip translates it into a language that your BMW understands. The data is then sent via the bus to the corresponding control unit, where it is converted. The confirmation takes the form of a data packet that travels back the same way, is translated into a readable language, and is sent wirelessly to the app. This entire process takes only a fraction of a second, which means that the feedback appears to you almost immediately after you enter it.

What to expect from vehicle diagnostics?

At the heart of every vehicle diagnosis is the reading and interpretation of fault codes. Simple and inexpensive devices, such as a basic diagnostic device for your BMW E93, can only display the error codes, but not interpret them. Some can clear error codes, but they often do not offer any other functions. When using such devices, you often have to research the codes on your own to understand their meaning. Higher quality devices provide you with an easy-to-understand description of the respective error.

For example, take code B0115, which indicates a short circuit in the side airbag leads (which are controlled by the SRS control unit). A simple diagnostic device could only display “B0115”. A more advanced device, on the other hand, would display “B0115: Short circuit in side airbag leads”. The best diagnostic tools will not only provide you with a description of the problem, but also information about the urgency of the repair, whether you should do it immediately, postpone it or ignore it.

What are the costs of a vehicle diagnosis for your BMW E93?

The cost of vehicle diagnostics is made up of two aspects: direct diagnostic costs and the potential for cost savings through early detection and correction of faults before they lead to serious damage.

A simple diagnosis in a workshop can cost between 25 and 60 euros, depending on the model, manufacturer and the specific workshop. Assuming you perform quarterly diagnostics and the average price per visit is 40 euros, the annual cost is about 160 euros. In addition, there is the time and expense of making the appointment, bringing and picking up the vehicle, and possible transportation costs during the diagnostic period.

The Carly app is available for your BMW E93 at a price of about 6 euros per month. In addition, there is the one-time purchase of the Carly Universal OBD scanner for 59.90 euros. A high-quality external adapter such as the Carly scanner is indispensable for external diagnostics, including BMW-E93 diagnostic devices. The full functionality of the Carly app is included in the price, so you can save additional costs of several hundred euros. You can find more information at the end of this article.

The follow-up costs saved are difficult to quantify, but are likely to be several hundred to a thousand euros per year. With a diagnostic device, you can run diagnostics as often as you like, even several times a month. A good BMW E93 diagnostic tool will allow you to detect and fix minor faults and problems early on, before they get worse and lead to costly repairs. This way you can save considerable costs in the long run.

What are the costs of a vehicle diagnosis for your BMW E93?

The cost of vehicle diagnostics is made up of two aspects: direct diagnostic costs and the potential for cost savings through early detection and correction of faults before they lead to serious damage.

In a workshop, a simple diagnosis can cost between 25 and 60 euros, depending on the manufacturer, model and the specific workshop. In case you perform a diagnosis quarterly and the average price per visit is 40 euros, the annual cost is about 160 euros. In addition, there is the bringing and picking up of the vehicle, time and effort to make the appointment, and possible transportation costs during the diagnosis time.

The cost with a Carly app for your BMW E93, on the other hand, is only about 6 euros per month, plus the one-time purchase of the Carly Universal OBD scanner for 59.90 euros. A high-quality external adapter such as the Carly scanner, including BMW E93 diagnostic equipment, is indispensable for external diagnostics. The full functionality of the Carly app is included in the price, so you can save additional costs of several hundred euros. You can find more information about this at the end of this article.

The follow-up costs that can be saved are difficult to quantify. However, they are likely to amount to several hundred to a thousand euros per year. With the help of a diagnostic device, you can run diagnostics as often as you like, even several times a month. A good BMW E93 diagnostic tool will give you the opportunity to detect and fix minor faults and problems in time, before they get worse and lead to excessive repairs. In this way, you can save considerable costs in the long run.

Which diagnostic device is the best choice for your BMW E93?

Our goal is to make you understand that the Carly app is the optimal solution for you. It offers a variety of additional features, which we’ll get to in a moment, and is available for download from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The Carly app has already recorded over 1 million downloads. What’s more, you can start with the free version of the app, which gives you access to a limited, yet impressive selection of features. In the following text section, we will introduce you to the most important features of the Carly app.

Diagnosis and condition assessment of your BMW E93

The Carly app can not only read and interpret general fault codes, but also manufacturer-specific codes that are specifically relevant to BMW and the BMW E93. The Carly BMW E93 diagnostic tool does not leave you in the dark, but provides detailed explanations of the identified errors. But that’s not all. Carly goes beyond that and shows you the technical condition of your vehicle, ranking the faults according to their urgency. A traffic light system is used here: If the relevant indicator in your car is green, it is in good condition and no action is required. If the display is orange, you should consider further diagnostics, as there are errors that should be fixed. However, if the indicator is red, your car has serious problems that require immediate action.

Carly Smart Mechanic

Carly Smart Mechanic answers the main question of all car enthusiasts: “How serious is the problem and what do I need to do to fix it?”. The app gives you specific details on the severity of the problem and the ease of repair, along with practical repair instructions written by expert mechanics.

We combine the error data of your specific problem with our carefully compiled expert database of repair manuals and vehicle system descriptions. This will give you a better understanding of your car’s trouble codes and detailed repair tips. The Carly OBD Scanner combines real-time data with extensive mechanical expertise to give you applicable advice so you can increase your repair skills and do more repairs yourself. This way you can save time and money while having confidence that your BMW E93 is in optimal condition.

Carly used car inspection – a real lifesaver for your BMW E93

This feature is exclusive to Carly! When buying a used car, such as a BMW E93, finding a reliable vehicle is a major challenge. Unfortunately, even the most attractive cars can have manipulated mileage. Speedometer manipulation is a serious problem and statistics show that up to one third of used vehicles are affected. The Carly Used Car Inspector is a unique feature that examines all relevant ECUs and detects signs of speedometer tampering to produce a detailed report. This way you can determine if the seller is trustworthy or not and save thousands of dollars with our BMW E93 diagnostic tool!

Coding – customize your BMW E93 individually

Coding may sound technical, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all about customizing your personal preferences for numerous features of your BMW E93. You can set different parameters for a variety of aspects, such as cornering lights, turn signals, brake lights, corona rings, convenience features, parking sensors (PDC), entry assist, power windows, power liftgate, welcome home lights, automatic climate control, engine start/stop, and more. There are hundreds of ways you can customize. In a workshop, this would cost you between €30 and €50 per adjustment. With Carly, on the other hand, you can make as many adjustments as you like, try out different options and switch between them.

Real-time data query – monitor important parameters in real time

Do you want to monitor parameters such as fuel consumption, exact driving speed, oil temperature or other values in real time while driving? With Carly you can do this. You simply call up the corresponding parameter and can monitor it live. This will give you important information to get the most out of your BMW E93.

Goodbye workshop? – Save time and money with Carly

So does this mean saying goodbye to the workshop? Unfortunately no. It’s true that with Carly you can reduce workshop visits and the associated costs, but avoiding them altogether is not possible. No app can do that. There will always be minor and major repairs that need to be done in a workshop, as well as complex problems that only a professional can identify. However, you can use Carly to perform minor diagnostics, coding and service resets yourself, saving you time and money.

Summary – Carly, the optimal solution for your BMW E93

After reading this comprehensive article about the best diagnostic tool for your BMW E93, we are confident that we have been able to make you understand the benefits of the Carly App. With Carly you can use a wide range of functions: Read fault codes, perform basic maintenance, optimize your fuel consumption by monitoring real-time parameters, custom code your BMW E93 and much more.

The biggest advantage, besides the benefits of these features, is that you can save significant costs. You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by doing a lot of maintenance yourself and foregoing the repair shop where possible. The Carly app will definitely exceed your expectations and help you better understand and care for your vehicle. So you’re always in control of your BMW E93 and can enjoy the ride to the fullest.

Cover image: Image by ahlop1988 on Pixabay

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.

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