2006 325i BMW with ~24,700 - BRAKE failure and Steering Angle sensor failure MYSTERY


#1

Help! I 4B5: DSC Steering column am hoping this community can shed light on this mystery

CarB6, :
2006 325i BMW with ~24,000 mi
taken care of - babied - serviced regularly and garaged up until a year and a half ago

Recent service
2/17 Brake specialist - BRAKE FLUID FLUSHED AND BRAKES INSPECTED, used something DOT 4 fluid and reported no issues, brake pads good
2/17 later the same day - oil change at Jiffy Lube - technician checked brake fluid in the brake fluid reservoir using an electric moisture content sensor and visually and said was okay
Not sure if it matters for this story, but the battery died and was replaced a couple of months ago

FLASH FORWARD ONE WEEK…
2/25 Raining, I rushed to get into the car parked on the curb in front of my house. I start the car and drive two house lengths to the end of the street, apply the brakes, pedal drops and brakes fail. I roll through the stop sign 3/4 way into the four way intersection before I was able to stop the car
Took car back to brake specialist around the corner after I determined I could press really hard on the brakes to get them to stop.
Brake specialist inspected the car, called me and told me they see that the car has damage on the drivers door that they didn’t see the week before
They keep the car overnight and call me to tell me that they have found a problem with the STEERING ANGLE SENSOR
When they reset the steering angle sensor and drove the car, the brake light and traction control light would come one and the brake pedal would go soft
They were able to reproduce this multiple times.
They were unable to fully diagnose what the issue was
They advised having the car looked at by a BMW specialist to determine what was happening with the brakes.
I picked up the car and saw the damage to the door. The brake specialist believed the issues were related to the damaged based on the position of the damage
The BMW specialist advised to contact insurance first.
Insurance contacted and a claim started. Car flatbedded to an authorized repair facility.
Authorized repair facility has car a little over a week and replaces the drivers door, but couldn’t diagnose the safety issues and told me they would send it to the dealer, but that in their opinion they do not believe that the safety issues are related to the car being hit.
Dealer gets car after body work completed at the authorized repair facility and does an initial inspection.
They inspected brake fluid reservoir and found BRAKE FLUID LEVEL WAS FULL but BRAKE FLUID CONDITION POOR AND RED IN COLOR. They found that the brakes had excessive play and were spongy and no leaks were found
The dealer performed a vehicle test and found fault codes 0094B6, 0094B5: DSC steering column switch center internal fault.
Code 005E43 DSC steering angle sensor adjustment
Dealer performed test plan “DSC STEERING ANGLE SENSOR” and determined the steering angle sensor internal fault stored 13 times
Dealer recommends replacement of the STEERING COLUMN SWITCH CLUSTER and reprogramming

Insurance company says I have to prove the safety issues are related to the accident and are not willing to pay for the repairs
BMW NA will not assist until liability is determined and say even if the determination is the car has an inherent safety issue, they will not guarantee assistance

Okay, so I asked a separate BMW specialist if the accident could have caused any of these issues. This is what he told me:
The BMW expert cited three links:1) the impact to a stationary car could cause jarring that could damage the sensor, 2) the wheels may have been turned out when it was hit and shifted abruptly affecting alignment and steering, and 3) when the car was hit it may have been dragged and rocked hard against the curb, further affecting alignment and steering.

The insurance company says I could have gotten this information from anywhere and are still claiming it is not related.

SO THE MYSTERY>>>
Is this all a bermuda triangle type coincidence/twilight zone freakishness?

How can a does brake fluid go bad in one week - if indeed it was bad when the brakes failed? Or in two weeks when the dealer inspected it? How does a car in perfect operating condition coincidentally have steering and brake issues after being hit - related to car being hit or inherent BMW fault with the vehicle?

Do you think that the steering and brake issues are not related to the car being hit? Why?
OR
Do you think that the steering and brake issues can be related to the car being hit? Why?


#2

My suspicion is that the wrong fluid was used in the brake system and that this issue is unrelated to the collision. I have no idea how hard this would be to determine now.

On another note, I’m pretty sure that many folks here will point out that “babied” and “Jiffy Lube” do not go together.


#3

My BMW specialist highly regards the brake specialist who originally did the brake flush. They are also highly regarded in our small community - a third generation family owned business. They are also rated very highly for customer satisfaction on YELP and other sources, so I find it hard to believe that a business whose bread and butter is brakes would put in the wrong fluid.

Regardless of Jiffy Lube being a national chain, I have never had an issue with our local location nor do they do brake flushes. They check brake fluid with a sensor.


#4

I am–more or less–in agreement with lion9car.
This is just a theory, and it is likely that nobody will ever be able to prove or disprove it, but after reading “BRAKE FLUID CONDITION POOR AND RED IN COLOR”, I think it is possible that one of the kiddies at Jiffy Lube mistakenly added transmission fluid or power steering fluid to the master cylinder.

In other words, the brake shop did the job correctly, and then the untrained kid at Jiffy Lube un-did it by topping off the master cylinder with the wrong fluid.

Trust me–this type of screw-up (adding the wrong fluid to the wrong system) happens weekly at quick lube places nationwide, so the possibility exists that this is what happened.


#5

I agree with VDCdriver on the brake fluid. As for the steering issues, need more details about this accident. Was the car parked when hit? Did you know who hit it?


#6

@‌ Nice try - only oil changed, no other fluids
@ keith - car parked at the curb in front on my house when it was hit - hit and run. I suspect it was contractors working across the street on house, but selling agent organizing repairs on the house isn’t returning my calls… sigh


#7

Maybe the color doesn’t matter. From http://www.advancepetro.com/differentbrakefluid.htm
Brake fluid Color:
Brake Fluids are available in various colours like Brake Fluid DOT 3 is available in clear, Pale Yellow, Blue & Crimson Red colour, similarly brake fluid DOT 4 is available in Clear, Pale Yellow & Crimson Red colour, brake fluid DOT 5.1 is available Clear, Pale Yellow & Blue colour. Brake Fluid DOT 5 is available in Purple & Violet colour so colour is not a criteria to distinguish between the different types of brake fluids. The color is added in brake fluid to detect the leakage easily and color does not effect the quality of brake fluid.


#8

Part of the oil change service at Jiffy Lube is to top up all fluids. Don’t bet on them not putting ATF in the brake fluid. If the brake fluid is red, then someone put ATF in it. If not Jiffy Lube, then who?

As for the steering issue caused by the accident, I think it could be but I don’t think that is likely and it may not actually be an issue. I’m not sure what this code really means, BMW keeps that to themselves. You might need a wheel alignment. How bad was the damage to the door and did the damage extend past the door? The steering and the brake issues are not related, two different things going on here and the brakes are not a result of the accident.


#9

“only oil changed, no other fluids”

Even if you tell the people at Jiffy Lube that you “only want an oil change”, they will check (and–possibly–fill) other fluids, just as they will also remove your air filter and tell you that you need a new one, even if you specified only an oil change.

These other “services” are done in order to attempt to produce the type of profit margin that is not possible with just an oil change.


#10

The brake fluid was already full - so no topping off to be had.
When I called them, the manager told me that they do not even open up the master cylinder, unless they are going to do a brake service. So no, they didn’t use a sensor as I thought, they only conducted a visual to note low or full fluid level. And in their report it was full. And since you can see the level of the fluid at the reservoir, I doubt they would open an already full reservoir, especially when it isn’t on their checklist, to take out and add the wrong fluid.
Oh and the manager (nice guy) said he was happy to comment to this post…


#11

I don’t think the brake issue has anything to do with the steering. There could be air in the brake lines and they need re-bleeding if the bleeds were not tightened. More than likely this is a Master Cylinder failure.


#12

“oil change at Jiffy Lube”

Bzzzzzzzzt!!
Never take a car you care about there! Or any other chain…


#13

Alas the mystery still exists and neither BMW or the insurance are willing to invest in solving this safety issue.


#14

If your brake fluid is bright red, and you can check this yourself, then get the brake system flushed immediately or you will have more damage in the near future. Don’t wait for someone else to pay for it because the damage won’t wait.

At least have the alignment checked. If it is out, that could very likely be due to the accident and be the source of the steering codes. If its out, get it aligned now and then negotiate with the insurance company over that or get a lawyer, but it also needs to be taken care of now.

Brake fluid is never bright red so if yours is red, something, most likely ATF got put in there by someone, but that is not the result of the accident. Brake fluid can turn a sort of rusty red, but that would indicate that the first mechanic never flushed you brakes in the first place. You paid for something you never got.