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Thread: BMW series 3 with broken DSC/ABS

  1. #1
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    BMW series 3 with broken DSC/ABS

    My 2007 BMW series 3 needs a replacement hydraulic unit for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), for which I have been estimated £2400, a lot of money to spend on an ageing car. I am not 100% sure what DSC is, I think it is BMW's version of ABS.

    Does anyone know whether it is vital that this is repaired? Will the car still pass its MOT without it? Even if it will, how safe would the car be to drive? I am not aware of ever having used the DSC - it seems a lot of money to repair something that I am not convinced is necessary for the type of boring driving I do.

    The car's mileage is about 75K, so only 5.5K per year, and I have had it from new.

  2. #2
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    IIRC it's an MOT fail.
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  3. #3
    Craftsman SydR's Avatar
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    Does the failure put any warning lights on the dashboard?

    If so, yes, it will fail the MOT.

    As to what it does and safety I’ll leave to others.

  4. #4
    Possibly a daft question but are you sure its the hydraulic unit thats on the blink ? My Civic had the ABS, stability control, tyre pressure warnings go off...the works...turns out it was a faulty speed sensor in the hub...got a replacement sensor for £12 and its been fine for the 2 years since

  5. #5
    Dynamic Stability Control, it applies braking to individual wheels if it detects a potential instability , generally during cornering, in all my years with BMW dealers, about 25, and having a new one every 6 months or so ,as a demonstrator ,I have never experienced the DSC operating without my express provocation. That said, I am not an out and out sporting driver so would not challenge the car's dynamic abilities and, one can turn the thing off , so , I imagine it can be driven perfectly safely.

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    I used to sell BMW’s back in 2007
    DSC is their version of traction control.

    You can drive with it turned off but not sure about the MOT fail.

  7. #7
    Take it for a cheap mot £25 to find out


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  8. #8
    Master Incredible Sulk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweepinghand View Post
    Take it for a cheap mot £25 to find out


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    As others have said, if there is a warning light on, it will fail. Happened to me once. But, as someone else said, you need to get the codes scanned to find out what's going on. In my case, a sensor (which cost buttons) failed. The labour bill was huge, as they had to dismantle half the front of the car to get to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SydR View Post
    Does the failure put any warning lights on the dashboard?

    If so, yes, it will fail the MOT.

    As to what it does and safety I’ll leave to others.
    Yes, there are warning lights on the dashboard

    So even a warning light for something totally innocuous would fail the MOT? Seems a bit harsh...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellietwed View Post
    Possibly a daft question but are you sure its the hydraulic unit thats on the blink ? My Civic had the ABS, stability control, tyre pressure warnings go off...the works...turns out it was a faulty speed sensor in the hub...got a replacement sensor for £12 and its been fine for the 2 years since
    It has been diagnosed by a BMW AD, so I have to trust they know what they are talking about.

  11. #11
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    It's a warning light to tell you something will not function, this will trigger an MOT fail, can the warning light fail?

  12. #12
    So is the dsc light on or the abs light or both?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    It has been diagnosed by a BMW AD, so I have to trust they know what they are talking about.
    I wouldn’t be so trusting, my VW garage has tried to do me over twice with miss diagnostics . They will bleed all they can out of a fault.
    Cheers..
    Jase

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    For that age of car it’s probably worth asking and independent garage how much they would charge to fit and code a second hand replacement, the part can be found very cheaply on eBay.


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  15. #15
    Not a lot of garages will fit second hand parts, it’s not worth their while

  16. #16
    Craftsman SydR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    Yes, there are warning lights on the dashboard

    So even a warning light for something totally innocuous would fail the MOT? Seems a bit harsh...
    A Google search finds the following statement:-

    *The examiner is now required to visually check that warning lights for safety restraint systems, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring systems and anti-lock braking systems are not permanently illuminated.*

    The question then is does DSC count as an electronic stability control?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SydR View Post
    A Google search finds the following statement:-

    *The examiner is now required to visually check that warning lights for safety restraint systems, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring systems and anti-lock braking systems are not permanently illuminated.*

    The question then is does DSC count as an electronic stability control?
    Absolutely yes. It is BMW speak for the Bosch ESP (Electronic Stability Program) which has been a compulsory fit on cars in Europe for a while now and is an MOT fail if not functioning. ESP doesn't work very often but when it does you probably need it as it can bring the nose back if you are heading for a ditch with terminal understeer.

    Electronic_stability_control

    Firstly find a good garage who can diagnose exactly what is wrong, then source a second hand or reconditioned unit (if it is indeed the control unit), get said garage to fit it, job done. Dealers aren't great at proper diagnosis and spanner work, they follow the replace it all at the customer's expense model.
    Last edited by Padders; 16th June 2021 at 19:19.

  18. #18
    I was driving home on a dull winters evening, hit a patch of black ice and out of the corner of my eye and saw the ESC light (think I was driving a golf at the time) flickering like mad before I regained control. Felt like the wheels were scrabbling for grip, let’s just say whatever it did I was pleased it was working!


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    You could sell as is.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the great advice, especially that this would fail MOT, so I have decided to definitely get it fixed, as we want to keep the car going for now. I did phone a couple of independents, one flatly refused to look at it, the other one at first said they wouldn’t do it, then changed his mind and said he would look at it, which did not inspire me with confidence. The BMW AD is by far the most convenient route, but you don’t half pay for it. Still, £2400 is less than I have paid for a watch, which puts it in perspective.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    Thanks for all the great advice, especially that this would fail MOT, so I have decided to definitely get it fixed, as we want to keep the car going for now. I did phone a couple of independents, one flatly refused to look at it, the other one at first said they wouldn’t do it, then changed his mind and said he would look at it, which did not inspire me with confidence. The BMW AD is by far the most convenient route, but you don’t half pay for it. Still, £2400 is less than I have paid for a watch, which puts it in perspective.
    Christ man, don’t go main dealer!
    They may have it spot on. It it may be something else causing the issue. As FFF said, no garage worth their salt will fit second hand parts - particularly with the braking system. But there are firms that can remanufacture your existing module if needed. They’ll be a fraction of the cost. Find a decent local BMW independent and ask them to take a look.

  22. #22
    Master W124's Avatar
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    I have used BBA Reman for a number of abs and dsc issues over 15 years - they are smart guys.

    http://www.bba-reman.com/gb/catalogue/3/

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave O'Sullivan View Post
    Christ man, don’t go main dealer!
    They may have it spot on. It it may be something else causing the issue. As FFF said, no garage worth their salt will fit second hand parts - particularly with the braking system. But there are firms that can remanufacture your existing module if needed. They’ll be a fraction of the cost. Find a decent local BMW independent and ask them to take a look.
    ECU Testing being one of them.....have an engine ECU with them atm, they’ve also successfully fixed a RR ABS ECU and several instrument clusters for us. They have an online form you need to fill out and they will arrange collection. If it can’t be repaired you owe them nothing other that diagnosis.
    if it can be repaired they normally charge c200-£300 plus postage to fix most ECUs
    Used also BBA as below who were also very good

  24. #24
    Where are you based OP?

    We may be able to recommend good independents.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franky Four Fingers View Post
    ECU Testing being one of them.....have an engine ECU with them atm, they’ve also successfully fixed a RR ABS ECU and several instrument clusters for us. They have an online form you need to fill out and they will arrange collection. If it can’t be repaired you owe them nothing other that diagnosis.
    if it can be repaired they normally charge c200-£300 plus postage to fix most ECUs
    Used also BBA as below who were also very good
    I used to use AC Tronics, but now favour ECU testing. Not a fan of BBA personally.

  26. #26
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    My wife had this on her Z4 of similar age a few years ago. Grosvenor are a bmw specialist in Reading, they got it sent away & exchanged for about £600 from memory.

    Still not cheap but cheaper. You may have a similar place near you.

    You will also likely not have brake hold / hill start assist, or ABS.

    Can clean a sensor to clear the code, but it will most likely return based on forum experiences.


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  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Mj2k View Post
    My wife had this on her Z4 of similar age a few years ago. Grosvenor are a bmw specialist in Reading, they got it sent away & exchanged for about £600 from memory.

    Still not cheap but cheaper. You may have a similar place near you.

    You will also likely not have brake hold / hill start assist, or ABS.

    Can clean a sensor to clear the code, but it will most likely return based on forum experiences.


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    A 'smart' OBD device is needed, one that will detect error codes like this as they occur and automatically clear them.

  28. #28
    Grand Master learningtofly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    My 2007 BMW series 3 needs a replacement hydraulic unit for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), for which I have been estimated £2400, a lot of money to spend on an ageing car. I am not 100% sure what DSC is, I think it is BMW's version of ABS...
    It's traction control. Mandatory for about a decade, so far as I'm aware, so almost certainly an MOT fail.

  29. #29
    My track E46 M3 had the same issue, turned out to be a failed steering angle sensor and not the hydraulic unit.

    Apparently a common fault, so definitely get it diagnosed properly and there are plenty of 2nd hand hydraulic units (if it is that) out there for peanuts!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    A 'smart' OBD device is needed, one that will detect error codes like this as they occur and automatically clear them.
    Sorry meant to fix, not clear. Although light will go, the code will remain stored as an error. Don’t believe errors are checked.


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    Quote Originally Posted by j0hnbarker View Post
    Where are you based OP?

    We may be able to recommend good independents.
    I am in Cheltenham, Glos. I tried one BMW independent, and they were not interested. But I hear you guys who are saying not to use the main dealer. This is the only car I have access to, so I have only being considering local garages - I need to get home after dropping the car off!

  32. #32
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    ^^^ Even if you were to rent a car (cheapest category super mini/city car) for a few days, you will probably still be quids in against the repair cost at a main dealer.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobDad View Post
    I was driving home on a dull winters evening, hit a patch of black ice and out of the corner of my eye and saw the ESC light (think I was driving a golf at the time) flickering like mad before I regained control. Felt like the wheels were scrabbling for grip, let’s just say whatever it did I was pleased it was working!
    Had very similar experience (driving very steadily) in BMW 3 series a few times. Very strange feeling but clearly a clever safety feature. Dread to think what would have happened without.

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    For a car of this age, I would not be using the main dealer but a specialist. I don’t know which garages have turned you away but the likes of Kwik-Fit and the Formula One auto centres would not be interested, as that is not what they specialise in.

    I would imagine any independent BMW specialist would be happy to take this job on and it would be much cheaper option overall than the main dealer. Main dealers do have benefits, but in this case, an independent with experience would be able to advise you appropriately.

    Also, nothing wrong with second hand parts, but obviously they have risks attached.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I am in Cheltenham, Glos. I tried one BMW independent, and they were not interested. But I hear you guys who are saying not to use the main dealer. This is the only car I have access to, so I have only being considering local garages - I need to get home after dropping the car off!
    Ah, too far from the BMW independent I know.

    Try and find one locally if no one here can suggest anyone.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by learningtofly View Post
    It's traction control. Mandatory for about a decade, so far as I'm aware, so almost certainly an MOT fail.
    Strangely traction control is not a failure but stability control is .

  37. #37
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    My scirocco is in a local garage now for abs fix. They send module away for refurbishment.. Much cheaper than what a main dealer garage will charge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattleicester View Post
    Strangely traction control is not a failure but stability control is .
    Does an MOT actually test it though? I think they just watch out for the self test on start up & then that the light goes out.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I am in Cheltenham, Glos. I tried one BMW independent, and they were not interested. But I hear you guys who are saying not to use the main dealer. This is the only car I have access to, so I have only being considering local garages - I need to get home after dropping the car off!
    Have you tried Steve Rowley GL51 9PL kingsditch trading estate

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weirdfish View Post
    Have you tried Steve Rowley GL51 9PL kingsditch trading estate
    Wow, I emailed Steve yesterday (found him on Google) and took the car over to him this afternoon to look at. He seemed confident about the problem and that he can fix it. The car is now booked in with him. It is very reassuring that you have recommended him, even after the fact. From the savings I will make I will donate some money to the fundraiser.

    I am grateful to all of you for recommending an independent; I think Dave O'Sullivan‘s “Christ man” gave me the required kick up the backside that I needed!

    I will update here when the car is fixed, in a couple of weeks, if anyone is interested.

  41. #41
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    I am 👍

    Hope it’s as cheap and painless as possible.

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    I had the same problem on a 2007 120d about 4 years back, which shares a lot of components with your E90 3-series. I was quoted around £3k for the replacement unit and fitting from our local BMW AD. My car at the time wasn't worth much more than that at the time.

    The problem lay with the ABS (pump and module) unit. These are available refurbished on an exchange basis. I used a firm in Derbyshire ECU Testing LTD to supply the exchange unit. These are currently around £200 + vat based on a serviceable exchange unit.

    https://www.ecutesting.com/product-c...ned/amc823901/

    I think a local mechanic charged around £300 for fitting, testing and the reset of the fault codes/warning lights.

    The unit had failed, it's a hydraulic pump which had worn. BMW do not repair/refurb, they will simply supply and fit a new part at a frankly ridiculous price.

    If you search the issue on BMW forums you'll see that many have had the same problem and have corrected it for a fraction of the price of the new OE part.

    It's not the end of the world and certainly needn't cost you thousands to fix. Hope these vague recollections help...

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    Wow, I emailed Steve yesterday (found him on Google) and took the car over to him this afternoon to look at. He seemed confident about the problem and that he can fix it. The car is now booked in with him. It is very reassuring that you have recommended him, even after the fact. From the savings I will make I will donate some money to the fundraiser.

    I am grateful to all of you for recommending an independent; I think Dave O'Sullivan‘s “Christ man” gave me the required kick up the backside that I needed!

    I will update here when the car is fixed, in a couple of weeks, if anyone is interested.
    Glad you have got it booked in with him, as far as I'm concerned he's an honest guy who will tell you upfront about any possible costs etc, he'll also keep you informed as well, not many garages have the ability to do that these days.

  44. #44
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    OP reporting back. Steve Rowley (as recommended here) replaced the faulty ABS hydro unit last week, for £750 including VAT; even though he replaced it with a new, genuine BMW part, he was much cheaper than the BMW dealer. I had a run out in the car today and it is running very well, so I am very happy with the outcome.

    As promised, I have donated to the fundraiser in gratitude for the money I saved due to the advice I got here.
    Last edited by Tatters; 28th June 2021 at 17:54.

  45. #45
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    OP reporting back. Steve Rowley (as recommended here) replaced the faulty ABS hydro unit last week, for £750 including VAT; even though he replaced it with a new, genuine BMW part, he was much cheaper than the BMW dealer. I had a run out in the car today and it is running very well, so I am very happy with the outcome.

    As promised, I have donated to the fundraiser in gratitude for the money I saved due to the advice I got here.
    Top news!
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  46. #46
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    Great outcome and good news.

  47. #47
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    Still, £2400 is less than I have paid for a watch, which puts it in perspective.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave O'Sullivan View Post
    Christ man, don’t go main dealer!
    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    Steve Rowley (as recommended here) replaced the faulty ABS hydro unit last week, for £750 including VAT
    What a good ending Vs the £2.4k you nearly sunk with the main dealer.

    £1,650 minus whatever went into the fund raiser back in the watch fund! That's how it works, right?

  48. #48
    Master John Wall's Avatar
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    Main dealer quotes really are a piss take aren’t they.
    Mr Rowley does the job with genuine parts for less than a third of the price.
    Now I presume this wasn’t “mates rates”
    I’m sure he charged the price of the part, his usual labour rate and added vat to the bill
    ...and it’s a third of the BMW quote.
    As the old adage goes, “A fool and his money are easily parted”
    BMW take people for fools.
    Let this be a lesson for us all.
    Last edited by John Wall; 29th June 2021 at 06:51.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by wileeeeeey View Post
    What a good ending Vs the £2.4k you nearly sunk with the main dealer.

    £1,650 minus whatever went into the fund raiser back in the watch fund! That's how it works, right?
    Funny you should mention that...it was my birthday yesterday, and guess what?...I treated myself to a new watch.

    I bought it from Pragnell in Stratford-Upon-Avon, which is fairly local for me. I had never been into the store before, and I was impressed with the set-up - worthy of Mayfair I am sure: two dressed-up doormen outside, strict security on the door (cameras and you have to be buzzed in), a concierge to greet you. They seem to have a very large selection of the top brands; although I didn't get to see much of the shop, it seem quite extensive. Stratford is a fairly small town, so it is definitely punching way above its weight, no doubt fuelled by a lucrative tourist trade.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Wall View Post
    Main dealer quotes really are a piss take aren’t they.
    Mr Rowley does the job with genuine parts for less than a third of the price.
    Now I presume this wasn’t “mates rates”
    I’m sure he charged the price of the part, his usual labour rate and added vat to the bill
    ...and it’s a third of the BMW quote.
    As the old adage goes, “A fool and his money are easily parted”
    BMW take people for fools.
    Let this be a lesson for us all.
    I think I was lucky here. I don't think BMW make this part anymore, so there is a dwindling supply left. As the stock shrinks, so the price rises. Steve had snagged a supply of them some time ago when they were still reasonably available and relatively cheap, and he has been slowly using up his stock. If I had left it much longer he might not have had any left.

    What was even luckier was that I had booked the car in with the main dealer for this repair a few weeks ago, at the £2400 price (I know). I dropped the car off with them for the day, but when I got home they phoned up to say that they had cocked up and the part had not been ordered. After being messed around like that I had a rethink, which is when I started with thread.

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