Tested: Carly for BMW – Our experience with the automotive App

Carly for BMW is the strongest BMW App solution according to the manufacturer. It supports manufacturer-specific diagnostics, coding, service reset and used car checks.

We took a closer look at the app in our test and see what it really can do in practice!

tl;dr

The following article is extremely extensive. Do you want to get an overview first? Then just have a look at the pictures.

Test vehicles

We had a BMW F30 335i VFL Limosine (2015), a BMW E92 330i LCI Coupé (2011), a BMW E91 320d LCI Touring (2011) and a BMW E87 118d VFL (2005) for testing on site. We have tested the diagnosis on all vehicles. The other features were not tested on all vehicles.

Hardware

Depending on the mobile operating system, a different OBD adapter is required. For iOS there is a WiFi adapter (ca. 62€) and for Android a Bluetooth adapter (ca. 45€). Of course we have both OBD adapters for testing here on site.

The Wifi OBD adapter looks quite large in direct comparison to the Bluetooth version. Nevertheless it measures only 88x45x24mm (WxHxT). It fits perfectly in our test vehicles. It seems to be an individualized ELM327 OBD adapter. There is a status LED on the OBD, which shows the connection status to the car / app.

The Bluetooth OBD adapter, on the other hand, is a tiny device right next to the Wifi version. It measures 48x31x24mm (WxHxD). Thus it also fits perfectly into our test vehicles. It also seems to be an individualized ELM327 OBD adapter. There is a status LED on the OBD, which shows the connection status to the car / app. Additionally there is an on/off button to switch off the OBD adapter without pulling it out.

Software

Entrance

First, the respective app must be installed and the OBD adapter connected in the first step. All you have to do is click on “Connect” at the bottom of the app, select Bluetooth / WLAN depending on your smartphone and establish a connection with the OBD adapter. The PIN “1234” was necessary for the Bluetooth adapter.

Without a license, you can perform a (free) one-time diagnosis and have Carly evaluate the diagnostic data by e-mail. This seems to be a test before the purchase. The used car check can also be used once without a license.

With the annual license for approx. 55€ we have the following features at our disposal: Diagnostics, coding, parameters, service, used cars, digital garage, iDrive, battery, DPF, NOX, brake, gearbox, exhaust flap, OBD functions, manuals and a settings menu.

It is noticeable that the Android App (unfortunately) can only be used in full screen and landscape format. This is unfortunately a paternalism of the user. There is a dark theme in the settings menu, which is recommended for OLED devices. Unfortunately this function is not completely implemented. It only sets the background of the app to black and some menus become difficult to read.

The iOS version, on the other hand, only runs in portrait format. We can only speculate about the reason.

The pictures are primarily from the Android App (landscape format)

Service Reset

In the Service Reset menu of the Carly for BMW App you can view the remaining terms and the previous resets of the individual service intervals.

After the board computer of our BMW E91 320d an oil change was due. Then a service reset must be carried out so that the vehicle can then indicate the oil change again in good time. We were able to do this without any problems with the app.

At our second test vehicle, the BMW E92 330i, new brake pads at the rear axle were necessary. After the change (incl. sensor!) the service could also be reset here with the Carly App.

Manufacturer-specific depth diagnosis

We made a complete diagnosis on our test vehicle BMW E92 330i, because it swallowed up shortly after the engine start and went into an engine emergency. After a restart of the engine the spook was over. The app had found an error in the error memory with the message “Inlet-VANOSS”. The error did not occur afterwards (fortunately) any more and could be deleted with the Carly for BMW App. Every now and then an error with the “cylinder equalization” is created during the warm start. In the attached pictures you can see the feature of the “Freeze-Frames”, which contains detailed data at the time of the error. This is a great feature to identify the exact time and the cause of the error. Unfortunately only a freeze frame was meaningful in this example. Whether this is due to the app or to the diagnostic data itself is unknown to us.

In our BMW F30 335i, there was not only an error memory but also an information memory in which warning and info messages can be stored. These were read and displayed by Carly without any problems.

The diagnoses are always automatically stored as a PDF file when the Digital Garage is activated so that they can still be accessed even after the error memory has been deleted.  Unfortunately the Freeze frames are missing there. More about this later in the test.

Coding

First of all, we have to select the Encoding item in the app overview. After the compatibility check, the respective control device can be selected and a backup of the encoding data must be created manually. In our opinion, this could have been done in the background, as it unnecessarily complicates the use. Afterwards codings can be made on this control device. However, the end user is less interested in the names of the control units and must therefore first go through all control units in order to be able to find the desired encodings. This should have been better accommodated on a mask with search function. The filter function within the individual ECUs would already have been helpful on the overview page of the ECUs.

We have made some test encodings:

Start/Stopp Automatic Memory (IHKA)

Our BMW E91 320d has an automatic start/stop system to save diesel fuel. Unfortunately, this switches on again after switching off the engine. This behaviour can be adjusted with the above mentioned coding so that the last set mode is always kept even when the engine is restarted. We could verify this behaviour after the coding.

Bogus white cleaning (JBBF)

With our BMW E92 330i we wanted to adapt the automatic cleaning of the Xeonon headlights. Especially on long distances, it sucks the wiping water literally empty. With the help of the appropriate codes

  • Number up to headlight cleaning
  • Number of spray pulses for headlamps
  • Duration of spray pulses for headlamps

we were able to reduce the interval and the spray quantity and thus significantly reduce the consumption of wiping water. Even a switch-off would have been possible. However, this is not permitted with xenon headlamps!

Digital speedo (Combi)

With our BMW E92 330i we wanted to encode the very popular digital speedometer. This was as easy and fast as the other encodings.

Protection function

We noticed one point very positively. In one of our test vehicles (E92) the app refused to encode the FRM module. This was done with a warning including a reference to the help page of Carly, in which the cause is explained exactly.

“Some FRM2 and FRM3 with very special firmware versions get errors in the boot sector of the FRM after a few years of use. This means that the FRM can no longer start once it has been completely shut down. However, after each encoding in FRM the FRM must be restarted completely, otherwise the newly encoded settings will not be accepted.”quotation Helppage of Carly

This shows that the manufacturer has dealt intensively with the topic.

Live parameters

We liked the live parameter function very much. It allows you to display various vehicle parameters live on a dashboard or in a list. Among them are for example various voltages, temperatures, speed, rpm and much more. The displayed values were plausible. Some entries are duplicated, but slightly different values are displayed.

The analog display allows the use as a software dashboard in the vehicle, for example at the race track to have certain values always in view. The display can also be helpful for troubleshooting.

NOx / DPF Regeneration

Our BMW E92 330i with direct injection is equipped with a NOx catalytic converter. The app offers a function to burn the NOx catalytic converter if desired. We looked only at the deposited values. We have not done this with our vehicle. A similar function also exists for diesel vehicles with diesel particulate filters. Also there plausible values were to be seen.

The BMW F30 335i was unfortunately not (yet) supported by the app.

With our BMW E91 320d we could read the data of the diesel particulate filter without problems. We could also have started a regeneration.

Train battery

The app also offers the possibility to train a new battery on the vehicle. This is necessary at BMW, because there is an intelligent charging electronics installed, which adapts the charging behavior to the built-in battery.

We didn’t test the function because none of our test vehicles needed a new battery.

Parking brake control

For the maintenance of BMW vehicles with electromechanical parking brakes it is necessary to release them at the brake service. This can no longer be released using the well-known handbrake lever, which is no longer available.

Our test vehicles have (fortunately) all still a classical mechanical parking brake. Therefore we could not try this function.

Train automatic transmission

This function enables the transmission to be adapted to the environment and driving style of the driver. The app can also be used to reset the transmission adaptation. The manufacturer is planning further functions (see last item in the menu).

Our test vehicles are exclusively switches. Therefore we could not test the function unfortunately.

Exhaust flap control

Both our gasoline engines have a flap control in the exhaust to be able to keep the volume regulations in all speed ranges and engine programs. With our BMW E92 330i (2011) unfortunately no control was possible over the App. On the BMW F30 335i, however, we were able to open or close the flap to our liking.

This function will not be StVo compliant. It should only be used on private property to test the flap control.

Used car check

According to the manufacturer, the used car check is intended to uncover speedometer fraud. The mileage, chassis number, engine operating hours, driving profile, average speed and more are read out. Unfortunately the driving profile data of our BMW F30 335i was not read or displayed correctly. This would certainly have been very interesting when buying a used car, as it would have been very easy to determine whether the vehicle was a long or short distance vehicle.

We (unfortunately) had no manipulated vehicle available on site and cannot verify the function. But the explanations on the manufacturer’s website sound plausible: If, for example, the speedometer is turned, the average speed of the vehicle decreases if it is offset against the operating hours of the engine. The app then draws attention to any conspicuous features. Nice idea for unneeded car buyers!

Digital Garage

Here the diagnoses, the used car reports and the coding backups can be filed online with the manufacturer. This gives you access to past error reports and gives you the chance to easily check whether error XY occurred last winter. Even in case of a defect or device change, all data is retained.

OBD functions (diagnostics/parameters)

To use this functionality, the OBD adapter must be set to a different mode. The app disconnects the connection to the OBD adapter and the user has to re-establish it. A standard OBD diagnostic is then available for all vehicle brands. In addition, a number of live data can be queried (as with the live parameters). No errors were displayed for our test vehicles. This will be due to the fact that only HU/AU relevant errors are evaluated, which are identical for all vehicle brands.

Unfortunately it is not clear for unneeded users what OBD Readiness means. A little more documentation would have been helpful.

Rating

The app worked perfectly for us. We especially liked the protective function during coding and the used car check, which does not exist in any other solution known to us.

Only the somewhat difficult to understand coding for beginners, the dark mode and the at first sight unclear price structure with annual subscription model disturbed us. For the coding we would have been happy about a better grouping for beginners.

Positive

  • Intuitive operation
  • Free diagnosis
  • Free and safe Encoding
  • Additional features such as the used car check and the digital garage
  • Legal use

Negative

  • Dark Mode half-heartedly implemented
  • Many functions not understandable for beginners (coding / OBD functions)
  • Single functions not (yet) implemented for all vehicles (NOx F30)
  • Annual cost of approx. 55€ per year

Conclusion

In the course of the test we were able to gain a lot of good experience with the app. We ourselves now have a suitable OBD adapter in our cars. This allows us to check what’s going on with our vehicle in case of vehicle problems, even before the vehicle of the automobile club arrives, and if necessary, to pass on information to the control centre by telephone. For every used car purchase, the Carly used car check during the test drive is now part of our program.

Für uns ist das:

4,0 / 5,0 Stars

Carly für BMW App

Carly für BMW Google Play

Carly für BMW im App Store

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.