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BMW Used DME Programming Explanation

Your BMW’s DME is shot? Don’t worry, you can still fix it for cheap!


The passion for the Bavarian machines can be a bitter sweet. We all love our BMW’s and the way they make us feel more than anything, but the truth of the matter is, with so many electronics on board, they just aren’t as reliable as they used to be. It’s not necessarily because the standards in production aren’t as high anymore, but because with so many more components, the chances of something going wrong are considerably higher.

One issue you could run across and make you re-evaluate your relationship with your car could be a Digital Motor Electronics (DME) problem. The signs for such issues come in a variety of scenarios. The DME takes care of every single important aspect related to your car, receiving up to 1,000 separate pieces of data input per second, including engine speed, air intake volume, air temperature and density, coolant temperature, throttle position, accelerator position and vehicle speed.

The DME verifies all incoming data by comparing it with the reaction of the rest of the system. If a defective sensor delivers faulty data, the DME replaces it with preset standard values. If a spark plug fails, the DME immediately cuts fuel flow to the cylinder in order to prevent engine damage.

The DME looks after the electrical power system too, with sensors measuring the charge and condition of the battery as well as current electrical power consumption. By maintaining optimum battery charge levels and thus avoiding flat batteries, it prevents damage to the battery and guarantees maximum battery life, thereby helping to ensure the engine always starts readily.  

Therefore, when something goes wrong inside the DME you can get all sorts of issues, from the car not recognizing your key fob, to rough running and increased fuel consumption or transmission jolts from time to time. Going to the dealer, will usually result in an estimate that includes replacing the unit altogether and then programming a new unit to work with your car. Care to guess how much that would cost you? Several thousand dollars.

There are other solutions out there though. The most common way to deal with it is to get a different DME unit that works, from a scrapped car and have it programmed to your car. This would cost you just $400 and the price you pay for the used DME.

To get it sorted, you’ll have to ship your original DME and the new one to a specialist that can change the programming on them. Once they get the parts, they will make sure the used DME will work on your car, ship it back to you and have you on the road in a matter of days, saving yourself a serious chunk of change.

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