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    trouble codes

    i have an 03 x5 3.0 that i just purchased and i have the engine light on. i had it tested and it read codes p0420 and p0430. i found out its o2 sensors. where are these sensors located at? i'm going to change them myself.
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  2. #2
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Oxygen Sensors - maybe the problem, maybe not.

    Quote Originally Posted by james007 View Post
    i have an 03 x5 3.0 that i just purchased and i have the engine light on. i had it tested and it read codes p0420 and p0430. i found out its o2 sensors. where are these sensors located at? i'm going to change them myself.
    These are easy to change on the 3.0 as they are on the top of the manifold and easy to reach from the top of the engine (as opposed to the PITA on my 328iC, where I ended up removing the manifolds. Be sure to route the harness as with the originals, and do one at a time to prevent cross-connecting them.

    Buy plug-and-play parts, too. Don't buy "generic" sensors and try to solder the wires - you will be for a world of woe. Most of the crap that they sell on eBay this way simply doesn't work. And the correct parts are not that expensive.

    You will need a 22MM open end wrench or box end wrench, or you can buy the special tool from the parts catalog people. Both work, and I've used both.

    The O2 sensors on this car are pretty cheap, as I recall - like $125 or so (as opposed to $250 for some other cars, such as the E36).

    They are slated to be replaced at 100,000 miles, although they *may* last longer than that.

    The P0420 and P0430 codes actually read "Catalytic Converter Efficiency Below Threshold" - but you are correct, it is likely an O2 sensor problem, not a Catalytic Converter problem (the latter rarely fails). The Primary O2 sensors, when they go bad, will run the car rich. You can reset the code (a code reader and reset tool and the Bentley manual are both highly recommended) and it will stay off for several months and then get worse with time.

    There are also secondary sensors after the converter which sense the emissions - these can also go bad and trigger these codes.

    The error codes are diagnostic tools and oftentimes, even though they mention a part in the code, the solution is not to change that part. For example, "Oxygen sensor out of range" is often an indication of a crack in the rubber intake elbow boot.

    Good Luck!

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    Curious to hear how the oxygen sensor replacement went, and whether this solved your problems. I have a 2001 X5 3.0 liter that has both the P0420 & P0430 codes. The first P0420 code was over a year ago, and was intermittent, so I didn't bother replacing it because I was able to pass inspection and get an inspection sticker. But now I've got both codes, and it's inspection time again.
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    Robert Bell
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    Should fix the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyjain View Post
    Curious to hear how the oxygen sensor replacement went, and whether this solved your problems. I have a 2001 X5 3.0 liter that has both the P0420 & P0430 codes. The first P0420 code was over a year ago, and was intermittent, so I didn't bother replacing it because I was able to pass inspection and get an inspection sticker. But now I've got both codes, and it's inspection time again.
    It is a good idea to write down the date of the codes and track them. I was getting these codes and over time, with increasing frequency.

    The O2 sensors are slated to be replaced at 100,000 miles anyway. And they are fairly cheap, compared to older BMWs. I think I paid about $100 at Pelican.

    A year later, no codes.
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    Update

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Bell View Post
    It is a good idea to write down the date of the codes and track them. I was getting these codes and over time, with increasing frequency.

    The O2 sensors are slated to be replaced at 100,000 miles anyway. And they are fairly cheap, compared to older BMWs. I think I paid about $100 at Pelican.

    A year later, no codes.
    Thanks for the reply. I know the "stealer" is always really expensive, but I got a quote about a year ago for almost $1300 to replace all 4 oxygen sensors on my car. I'm hesitant to spend this much on an 11 year old car, so I once again found a window of time where I wasn't getting any codes, and passed inspection. I tried getting a quote from another shop, but their quote was $570 to replace all 3 oxygen sensors. Much better price, but are they wrong on the number of sensors?

    Perhaps I should figure out how to change them myself.
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  6. #6
    Robert Bell
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    Try Primaries First

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyjain View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I know the "stealer" is always really expensive, but I got a quote about a year ago for almost $1300 to replace all 4 oxygen sensors on my car. I'm hesitant to spend this much on an 11 year old car, so I once again found a window of time where I wasn't getting any codes, and passed inspection. I tried getting a quote from another shop, but their quote was $570 to replace all 3 oxygen sensors. Much better price, but are they wrong on the number of sensors?

    Perhaps I should figure out how to change them myself.
    If you are going to own an older car, you have to be handy with tools or know a good independent mechanic.

    I replaced the primary sensors, as these control the fuel/air mixture. If the car has close to, or over 100,000 miles and these have not been replaced, you are not "wasting money" by replacing them.

    If the code still pops up, I would try the secondaries next.

    I would shy away from a mechanic who thinks there are three of then. On US spec cars, anyway, there are four - two primary and two secondary.

    That being said, his price is reasonable for a mechanic - make sure he is using a quality part (no Chinese junk).

    I just replaced the primaries.

    Good Luck!
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