How to Reset the ABS Light on a BMW E36

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A good rotor and high-tech computer combine to make for brakes with both brains and brawn.
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The ABS light on a BMW E36 is designed to alert the driver to potential problems with any part of the anti-lock braking system. The ABS computer continuously monitors a number of sensors throughout the vehicle in order to ensure that the anti-lock braking system is functioning properly at all times. When the ABS computer detects a problem with the system, it stores a trouble code in its internal memory and turns on the ABS light. An automotive scan tool with ABS capabilities is the only tool that can properly clear the codes from the ABS computer in order to turn off the ABS light.

Step 1

Drive the vehicle onto a flat surface and shift the transmission into "Park" or first gear (manual transmission). Turn off the engine and apply the parking brake. Turn the ignition back to the "On" position so the dashboard has power.

Step 2

Locate the vehicle's diagnostic data port. This port is located underneath the dashboard, just above the pedal area. It is approximately 2 inches wide, a half-inch tall and made from black plastic.

Step 3

Connect the scan tool's data cable to the diagnostic data port. Power on the scan tool and choose "ABS" from the scan tool's main menu.

Step 4

Choose "Trouble Codes" from the ABS menu. Select "Clear All Current and Stored Trouble Codes" from the Trouble Codes menu. Wait a moment while the scan tool clears the trouble codes.

Step 5

Turn off the scan tool, unplug it from the vehicle and start the engine. Confirm that the ABS light is no longer on.


Automotive scan tools are small, portable computers that are used to perform diagnostic tasks on modern vehicles. They can be rented or purchased from most local auto parts stores and tool retailers.

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