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YELLOW OR RED ELV STEERING LOCK FAULT WARNING LIGHT IS ON
Later model BMWs with fob-style key (that do not insert into the steering column and turn to unlock the column and start the engine and vehicle systems) employ an electronic steering lock assembly. The lock/unlock function is electrically operated when the key fob is activated and the ignition is turned on.
Typically, when the system sees a fault, the yellow warning light will come on in the Check-Control display Ignoring the fault warning can result in a no-start situation if the lock assembly fails altogether. Obviously, addressing the fault during the “yellow” warning stage is recommended. Once the system goes to a red warning, the engine will not start.
The first stage in addressing a yellow fault warning is to reset the ELV counter. This is done using a full access diagnostic tool, such as a well equipped independent shop would have. Additionally, the system fault codes should be read, using the same tool. If an actual fault is found, address the fault. Faults may be at the the actual ELV column lock assembly, the CAS (Car Accessory System), ESL circuit (Electronic Start Lock) or other electrical faults.
GOT A TON OF FAULT CODES, “LIMP-MODE” OR A DEAD BATTERY?
Late model BMWs and MINIs are very sensitive to system voltage. All of the electronic control units must run at a specified voltage. If the system voltage is low, this can often cause various odd fault codes, system malfunctions and engine running problems.
Testing the battery health and the basic alternator output is a first step in diagnosing suspected low voltage or battery charging issues. All that is needed is a basic multi-meter (using the DC voltage range of the meter) or a higher featured electrical circuit testing tool like the Power Probe III.
Test the battery voltage after running the engine (this can be done right at the battery or via the under-hood positive and negative jumper terminals). It should be at least 12.7 to 12.9 volts (it may higher, right after charging). Check the voltage after a couple hours or the next day. The voltage should be 12.5 (75% charge) to 12.7 (100% charge), at this point. If the voltage is lower, the battery may be weak and incapable of holding a full charge. If the voltage drops overnight (or in a couple days), charge the battery and disconnect the battery cables. If the battery holds the charge over the same time period (same period that it was dropping voltage, with cables connected), test for errant current draw.
Test the alternator output by connecting a digital voltmeter across the battery terminals or the under-hood jumper terminals. Start the engine and check the voltage with the engine at idle. You should see at least 13-volts (more is preferable). Turn on the heavy current draw accessories (headlights on high, rear defroster, heated seats, blower motor, etc.). The voltage should still be 13-volts, or more. If the voltage drops a bit (but not below 12.5-volts) as it sits and idles, rev it to about 1100 to 1200 RPM. The voltage should come up to above 13-volts.
If the above test looks suspect, the alternator output may be low and this certainly can cause all form of faults and system malfunctions on the later BMWs (about 2000-on), not to mention simple battery charging issues.
NEED TO REPLACE YOUR BMW OR MINI POWER STEERING PUMP OR RACK & PINION?
There’s no way around it, eventually our BMWs or MINIs are going to require a replacement steering pump or rack. These items last a long time, but given enough time and/or mileage, they will need to be replaced due to seal leakage, parts wear or outright failure. Fortunately, we typically have a choice between new replacement assemblies or remanufactured assemblies at a much lower cost (compared to new). These options allow the vehicle owner to repair the vehicle in the manner which they feel most comfortable. One owner may wish to only use fully new replacement parts. Another owner may wish to keep the repair cost down by using a quality remanufactured part.
Remanufacturing is different from rebuilding
A properly remanufactured part/assembly is fully disassembled, cleaned and inspected. All wear-out parts are then replaced …. whether they are currently “worn out” or not. The part is then reassembled to original specs.
Typically, a rebuilt part/assembly is only disassembled enough to replace any faulty or worn out parts and is then reassembled and made available for sale. Cleaning and re-finishing may or may not be done.
A remanufactured part is as close to a brand new part as you can get. A rebuilt part is made to be functional again, but all the parts that were not replaced still have the same amount of life and wear as they did before the “rebuild”.
Atlantic Automotive Engineering (AAE) is a part of the highly recognized CRP Automotive group (ContiTech, Rein, Pentosin and more). Atlantic offers fully remanufactured steering components for our BMWs and MINIs, to include power steering pumps, Steering racks and gearboxes.