Testing PDC with Inpa

Since I took ownership of my car the back PDC (Park Distance Control) sensors have not been working as they should, they beep a lot as though there is something behind me when there isn’t. I used the Inpa software from Cable-Shack to test the individual PDC to see if I could determine if there was one PDC which was at fault. This showed that the driver side middle PDC though that there was something around 50 inches from the car when nothing is behind.

I bought the car in June and around October time it stopped randomly making the noises and worked as I would expect.  It came back to spring again and the issue started again. This time I used the BMW Scanner software to test the PDC module and it reports no errors. It seems like this issue only happens during the summer months as during the winter I had no issues at all, it started to get warmer again and the PDC started to play up again. This time Inpa shows that both the middle PDC are showing something behind the car, at different distances.

The method I used to test the PDC with Inpa is detailed here.

  1. Start the Cable-Shack menu and choose the Inpa menu option.
  2. When Inpa starts, switch on the ignition to position II. The Inpa software should show the battery and Ignition as being on. This is indicated by the circles next to the Battery and Ignition text fields showing as solid black.
  3. Choose E39 as your car. You select E39 by pressing the F3 button or clicking on the E39 button at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Once E39 has been selected you will be shown a menu of options, select Body from the list of items on the left of the dialog, a new list of items will appear on the right. Select Park Distance Control from the list on the right hand side.
    NOTE: You need to double-click on the Park Distance Control item in the list for it to activate.
  5. If you receive a message box with an error message about language variants do not match, ignore this and press the OK button to continue.
  6. The PDC menu screen will appear. We want to look at the status of the PDC sensors so press F5 or press on the Status button at the bottom of the screen. The sensors on the car will be displayed.
    Initially all the displays should show as black as the PDC is not active. Press the PDC button in the car to activate the PDC. In the screenshot above my sensors are showing that there is something close to the passenger side outside sensor (there was a telegraph pole next to the car) and something in close to the passenger side middle sensor (nothing behind the car at this point so I know this is the sensor giving a false reading).
  7. Now you want to locate your laptop somewhere that you will be able to see it when you go outside the car to move behind the sensors.
  8. Leave the car and go and put your hand at various distances around the sensors, you should see the status screen change to reflect where you are around the car. This is all there is to how I test the PDC sensors.

BMW Scanner

As a side note, using BMW Scanner you can look at the programming of the PDC and set various parameters for distances, etc. You can also program the loudness of the noises from the PDC and whether they use the gong or speakers. I have mine configured at maximum volume and have the front PDC warn through the speakers and the rear PDC warn through the Gong.

You can set if there is a noise when the PDC is activated and when it is deactivated. You can set when the PDC will automatically switch off, by speed, distance or if you come out of reverse. I have mine configured to switch off after I have driven about 50 feet.