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Don't Panic!
If you've ever seen the "Check Engine" or "Service Engine Soon" light displayed on your instrument cluster, you've experienced a portion of your car's diagnostic system at work. Your first reaction may be to panic or to get frustrated. Is it a big problem, or something insignificant that can be attended to later? Guessing about - or asking other people to guess about it - isn't worth the time it took you to read this sentence. There are literally hundreds of possible causes for the warning to occur, and the only way to determine them is with the use of a diagnostic tool.

Stop Guessing!
When a problem or fault triggers a Check Engine/Service Engine Soon warning light, the computer also generates a fault code. This functionality is not unique to BMWs. In fact, all cars sold in the US produced after 1996 were required to have a diagnostic system to let inspectors and service professionals track emissions related problems. This system is called OBDII (On Board Diagnostics, second generation). Contained within this system is a set of parameters to be monitored and the corresponding fault codes. These government-mandated codes are generic, and any OBDII reader (like those used by auto parts stores) will read them.

OBDII codes definitely serve a purpose, but their generic and emissions related focus could leave a lot to be desired. This is especially true for BMWs, whose complex systems require high tolerance conditions for peak performance. If one of the hundreds of monitored sensors detects an out-of-range value, the car's computer wants to alert you that things are not perfect. This information is not necessarily what the OBDII system is designed to communicate.

BMW Specific Codes vs. OBDII - What's The Difference?
In addition to the required OBD system, your BMW - and in fact ALL BMWs as old as 1987 - maintains its own, factory-programmed and BMW-specific diagnostic system. The parameters monitored by this system extend beyond emissions related faults, and their corresponding codes translate to EXACTLY what the factory wants the technicians to know. While some fault codes will overlap with OBDII codes, many will not. Many more will be more descriptive/accurate than the corresponding OBDII offering.

More importantly, there are some fault codes that OBDII will simply not read. For example, in a review of codes for one specific model (2000 323i) there are more than twenty-five BMW Specific codes that are simply NOT REPRESENTED by the generic OBDII system. This is common for most models. Therefore, by relying on the readings from a generic OBDII tool, you are potentially missing important information.

Because of these gaps, as well as codes that are potentially less accurate, BMW service centers and technicians do not use OBDII tools to diagnose problems. They solely rely on the factory programmed, BMW specific fault codes.

Code Tools from Peake Research - The Right Tool For The Job
Don't want to go to the dealer or BMW technician? You can read the factory programmed, BMW specific codes with an affordable, easy to use tool. Peake Research has been making code tools that connect directly to the BMW factory diagnostic system for nearly twenty years. Their tools are the industry-standard hand-held, BMW specific code readers. These are NOT generic OBDII tools, and they will only work on BMWs. Quite simply - the Peake tools are built specifically for YOUR CAR; OBDII tools ARE NOT.

Why Trust Chain Auto Parts Stores to Diagnose Your BMW?
Some people try to save money by opting for a "free" scan at a local auto parts store. These stores use generic OBDII tools, not BMW specific readers. Even if the tool they use presents "Manufacturer Specific" codes, these are simply extended OBDII codes - not the accurate, factory programmed codes your Peake tool will read. The kid at the store doesn't know your BMW - Peake Research does.

Peake Tools - Convenient, Easy to Connect, and Easy to Use
Small enough to fit in your glove box, Your Peake tool will be ready to read codes when you need it. The process couldn't be easier! Simply connect the tool to your car's diagnostic port (cars older than '01 have the port under the hood, newer than '01 use the 16 pin port under the dash), set the key, and press the button. Directions are even printed on the body of the tool! With only two buttons - one to cycle through functions and one to "go" - a proper diagnosis is at your fingertips.

The codes are revealed with a short series of digits - numbers and letters that actually instruct you where to look in the code manual, then which code to look up. With that information, you have the ability to intelligently decide your next course of action. Whether you choose to seek a professional mechanic's help or tackle the job yourself, it all starts with the most accurate information a hand-held scan tool can offer.

Which Peake Tool is Right For You?
If your BMW was built between 1987 and 2001, there is a Peake Tool that's made for your car. Two basic models - one for engine codes and one for airbag codes - each come in two varieties; one for older cars, one for newer.

Selecting the right tool is very easy - check out your options on Bimmertool's diagnostic tool page - here. Specializes in Tools from Peake Research
Why wait for your engine light to come on? Be ready for it with your own BMW Specific fault code reader NOW. is ready to take your order today. With pricing well below retail, and FREE Priority Shipping for all domestic Peake tool orders, you can't go wrong.

Credit to Peake Research for technical information