View Full Version : DIY: E46 steering angle sensor replacement

02-07-2011, 10:54 PM
After unsuccessfully searching high and low for a DIY, I’m posting my experience.

The DSC and brake light (yellow) on the dash of my 2001 325i automatic came on and wouldn’t go off. I took it to the local indy shop and they hooked it up to their Launch x431 and showed all wheel sensors and DSC unit working but the steering angle sensor was dead. No output. So, armed with a new sensor (#32306793632), the BMW TIS disk and the Bentley’s manual, I dove in.

I drive up on ramps then use the jack to boost up the front end and place stands under the side jack points with chucks on the rear wheels. BEFORE detaching anything, lock the steering wheel in the straight ahead position. Put the key in, turn to on, move the steering wheel back and forth to center and remove the key. Wiggle slightly and it’s locked. It is also easier to get to everything if the splash guard is removed and the left front wheel is off.

First chore is to disconnect the lower steering column with attached flexible coupling or “guibo.” The bolt on the bottom of the coupling is a star bolt which takes either E10 socket or 8mm 12 point socket. I could get the socket on with the ratchet and loosen the bolt but there wasn’t enough room to remove the ratchet and socket to get the bolt out. Screwed the bolt back in to get the socket off, then used an 8mm 12 point closed end wrench to unscrew the rest of the way.

“Remove clamping screw and force disk joint off steering gear.” This was very discouraging until I took to heart the instruction to “force” the disk joint off. I sprayed PB Blaster over the connection and released the lever on the bottom of the steering wheel cover that holds the position while driving. With this down, the column could move as needed (but the wheel was still locked in the straight ahead position.) The needed motion is pushing the spindle up toward the firewall and then down toward the rack. Doing this gently took up a lot of time and didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It really takes a big upward shove and it comes off. Be sure not to take off the plastic cap on the rack after you’ve got the disk joint off.

Now pull down away from the firewall and the bolt at the universal joint on the upper end of the steering spindle will be “easy” to reach. I used the E10 socket, a 3/8 flexible universal adapter, 2 6-inch adapters and the ratchet to reach, unscrewed and voila, the lower spindle was out. My guibo looked great with no cracks or softening after 140000 miles so I didn’t change it.

Moving to the cabin, remove 3 screws on the left side of the panel above the pedals. Two clips hold the curved section under the steering wheel and these come off with a straight blade screwdriver. The fastener on the firewall just turns ¼ turn left to release. The fastener on the right side requires you to pull out the center and then pull out the fastener. Lower the panel and disconnect the light and the speaker. Slide the gray slide back and push out the OBD connector from the front. Set the panel aside.

Now you’re going to be working under the dash. The spindle that extends through the firewall is fluted. There is a “crash screen” consisting of a metal washer and a plastic base. Pull the metal piece up with your hands to get it off the plastic piece which will then come off the spindle. Now you need to pull away from the firewall to telescope the spindle up into the brass column. Finally force off the white plastic bushing at the lower end of the spindle.

There’s a long bolt going through two white guides and the column housing that has to be removed. Don’t break or lose the guides. I had to loosen the bracket that holds the stop light switch to swing it out of the way and get the bolt out. The return spring came off and was a bear to get back on at the end so try not to detach it. With the bolt out you can pull the spindle down toward the floor a bit. You need to push in on two plastic locking hooks and slide the old sensor off. Take note of where the two hooks are in relation to the sensor. They don’t move now because the wheel is locked. The toothed ring of the sensor moves to line up with them. Unplug it and set aside.

(The new sensor is supposed to be put on with a special tool that no one has. All the BMW dealers I called said they don’t have it and don’t use it. But they could get one in a few months for >$300.)

Make sure your new sensor has the toothed ring on it lined up the same as the one you took off. It’s easy to get disoriented on your back cramped under the dash so take your time. There’s a little square opening on the sensor the rod from its holder engages to keep it from rotating with the spindle. The rod and the hooks have to all be engaged correctly. It is easier to do it than say it. Plug it in.

Once that is all taken care of, you need to pull the spindle out some to reinstall the white plastic bushing on the end and the crash disk with washer. Make sure the metal disk is out of the bracket before seating. Now reinstall the long bolt between the plastic guides and through the column bracket. I used red loctite on the nut. Torque is 9.5 Nm, not foot pounds. Pull on the spindle to get it extended through the firewall.

Under the car again, note the groove in the universal joint and the tab on the end of the spindle. The spindle will try to go back through the firewall when you try to push the lower spindle universal joint on. There may be another method but I needed a second pair of hands to hold the spindle in extension while shoving the universal joint on it. I’ll add I did thoroughly clean the joining parts and then relubricate with the PB Blaster before attempting reconnection. Once it’s pushed on fully, use the same socket setup to tighten the bolt back in. TIS says "replace" the bolt. Does that mean use a new one or put it back? I didn’t use a new one as the torque on it is not high, only 22 Nm or about 16 foot pounds. I did use the red loctite on this bolt.

Replacing the spindle at the disk end back on the rack was easier than getting it off. It can only go on in one orientation. I applied red loctite to the clamping star bolt and used the closed 8mm wrench to “hand tighten” then tightened with the socket.

Put the wheel back on, replace the splash guard and inside panel, come down off the jacks and head for dealer/indy, whoever can code and calibrate the new sensor.

03-21-2011, 08:20 PM
How much did it cost you to get it coded? I just got a brand new sensor on ebay for less than $100. My car is a 2007 though

04-10-2011, 01:58 PM
at bmw base price $115 for recode

11-04-2011, 12:16 PM
This would have been awesome with some pics. When they did the re-code for the sensor,did they do the adjustment?

11-06-2015, 10:18 PM
how do you recode it?

04-27-2016, 09:42 PM