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Old 3rd April 2006, 05:30   #1
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Blank Nav Screen

Hi all!
I've searched the forums but haven't yet found a solution, hope someone here has suggestions:

The components:
2000 M5, MKII Nav with 16:9 display, no TV-tuner or other mods.

The problem:
Was cleaning the beast with the stereo on. Radio stopped playing and when I tried to start her up: click, click, click. Ok, not quite dead, but marginal battery. Got a jump and all has been fine ever since, except for the blank screen. Radio/CD controls work, screen moves to expose tape player when the button is pressed, the screen's backlight comes on, and no problems getting CD's out of the Nav computer.

Troubleshooting thus far:
1. Based on researching m5board, it seemed most likely that the NAV computer firmware was corrupted due to the battery problem. Note that I was missing one symptom that most folks with Nav computer problems report: radio/CD player shuts off after 3 minutes of play.
2. I downloaded the v27 firmware, burned at 4x to a memorex CD-R, and loaded it. (Used the often quoted thread, thx drewdwn!) No go, still blank.
3. Dowloaded and loaded firmware v23. Still blank.
4. I should mention that I am doing these loads blind. So I wasn't even sure that they were working, until the next step.
5. I inadvertantly botched a second (or 3rd?) reload of the v23 firmware. I assume that I did something wrong because the stereo began shutting off every 3 minutes.
6. Reloaded the v23 firmware. Radio/CD now plays without turning off after 3 minutes, screen still blank.
7. I pulled the Nav unit and reseated it's two cables, still blank.
8. I now begin pressing buttons. I turn the car on, wait a minute, and press the right knob once; the assumption being that I am accepting the "don't play with my knobs while driving" message. Then I begin repeating the following sequence: menu button, turn knob clockwise one step, press knob. This eventually gets me to the "monitor off" menu option (though I can't see the menu) and the display goes dark.
9. Each time I start the beast I can press the right Nav button twice to make the blank, but backlit, display turn off. This means some component in the Nav system is remembering that the "monitor off" option was selected when the car was turned off.

This is where things stand now. I am stumped.

What controls the menu on the display? Can I assume that the Nav is working because the "monitor off" menu option works?

Can anyone give me some other short sequence of buttons I can press to verify Nav computer operation?

Do I have a bad LCD? Is there a self-test or some of way of testing the display itself?

Thanks All!
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Old 7th May 2006, 15:39   #2
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I'm curious to know the possible causes for this problem as well...
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Old 7th May 2006, 17:25   #3
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Hmmm. Pretty thorough job so far...

Have you tried the BMWNAV group at yahoo? Hard to get responses, but clipping your detailed description and posting it there is much more likley to get a response than the "hey, my screen is blank" post.

If all else fails, try to find a buddy with a nav unit to swap out...

I've read a few "killed my nav when jumping" posts- hope it IS software...

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Old 8th May 2006, 20:55   #4
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kewl, I'll give that a try.

The idea of replacing it completely has been rolling around my head for quite a while. Basically I'd be swapping out the exisiting display and controls with as large a display will fit while keeping the existing mechanism and as much of the bezel. Hook that up to a PC and use an I-bus interface so I can "virtualize" all the buttons and knobs I'd be hacking out.

Gut the cassette player, put a code on the display drop mechanism, and I'd have a mini-safe. lol
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Old 16th May 2006, 20:41   #5
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My account at the Yahoo bmwnav group finally got confirmed. I posted my query there and will update this thread with any new information I receive from the bmwnav gurus.
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Old 16th May 2006, 21:19   #6
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The nav systems are very sensitive to dead battery conditions.

The first thing most will recommend is to get a full reset of the system. To do this,

1. open the trunk and wait until the light goes off on the nav unit.
2. disconnect the negative battery terminal.
3. I don't remember how long, but 15 mins or so, leave it disconnected. This allows any power stored in the electronics to bleed off.
4. Reconnect and see what happens.

In general - a very bad thing to let the battery get that low in Nav equipped e39s (and others with our screens). This is a very common failure. When you turned the key, the voltage went from 12 to 0, then kicked back up to 12 as soon as you released (similar to removing and reconnecting the neg. cable very quickly)

Also note that anytime you are going to disconnect the battery, you need to follow the procedure of letting the Nav unit spin down first.

1. Open the trunk
2. Wait for the Nav light to go off (~5 minutes)
3. Disconnect the neg. cable

You can also look here:

for lots of info.

Good luck
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Old 2nd August 2007, 18:15   #7
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Did you resolve your problem with the display? I was doing a search because my display is blank (dark) and found your string. One thing I gleaned was your mention of a back light. Since mine is completely dark, I'm wondering if that is my issue. I was also wondering if there is a relay involed in powering the display. I swapped out my computer for a "known good" nav computer and that didn't fix it, so now I'm looking at the display.

Let me know if you have any insights...

Nor Cal
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Old 3rd August 2007, 03:42   #8
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You nav computer is dead. NEVER JUMP START A BMW WITH NAV. Sorry for the caps.

If you have to jump start a BMW with navigation, with the ignition off give the nav time to spin down and disconnect the blue plug for power. once you get the battery going again you can plug the nav back in.

I would recommend never jump starting a BMW at all, but just buying a new battery when the battery goes flat.... but nobody likes that idea as much.
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Old 3rd August 2007, 05:22   #9
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Can you please explain what you think the difference is between connecting a new battery and connecting one from another vehicle (ie. jumpstart)?

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Old 8th December 2008, 17:24   #10
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Don't jump start your BMW

Having learned the hard way that modern cars aren't like they were was I was a lad - DON'T JUMP START YOUR BMW. Well you can, but you need to know what you're doing. I was without nav for 3 months - I had a blank screen.

It turned out that I had fried my navigation system completely. Dealer said I needed a new monitor. Fortunately, I managed to get one on eBay for about 250 rather then the thousands they'd want for a new one. That didn't fix it, so after a lot more effort I discovered that there was something else. The second component was my TrafficMaster, which since my MK4 GPS is redundant. It fits inline between the nav and the monitor so the dealer simply short-circuited the connection (at my request) and I was back online eventually. I could easily have fried the GPS computer, or presumably the car computer, air bag controller, ABS, anything really. The electrics are very vulnerable and very expensive. Please note this is quite different from the flash corruption issue you can get with the GPS computer just by turning off the power before it's shut down properly, I'm talking about the electrics hardware getting fried.

If you call the AA, make sure the guy that shows up knows what he's doing. The problem ocurrs because of a difference of voltage between your flat battery and the charging unit/car. They have to be connected/disconnected in a certain order and you need to turn on lights, heated window, blowers etc. before disconnect. He should know all this - but if he doesn't, send him away and ask for somebody else.

Basically, the lesson I learned was that as soon as you think your battery is on the way out - change it! It's cheaper in the long run.
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