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Old 12-27-2013, 02:37 PM   #1
bigjohn66 OP
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ZFE Computer Replacement

I'm suspecting I have a bad Central Vehicle Electronics box (ZFE.) My headlights (mainly low beam, but not always) have been flaky the last few months, showing a fault on the dash display when they are clearly on and sometimes they go out when I turn on the high beams. The fault is pretty random, they will work fine for several hours and then I'll look down, see the fault and find it's correct and the low beam is out. Usually restarting the bike will get them going again, but not always. '05 GS with 82k miles. I do have HIDs in the low beams, but I've replaced every part of the HID system with new and the fault still shows up randomly.

My real question here is: if I buy a used ZFE computer does it have to be programmed by the dealer or is it plug and play? Either the BMS-K or the ZFE controls the immobilizer and is matched to the key. I'm hoping it's the BMS-K.

Also, the fiche list the ZFE is the same part number for several different bikes, if I buy one that came off of, say a F800, but has the same part number, will it plug and play on my R1200GS?
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bigjohn66 screwed with this post 12-27-2013 at 02:48 PM
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:57 PM   #2
bemiiten
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Have you checked the connection at the bulb? A few have reported problems with the plug. Have a close look at the wire to look for evidence of overheating.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
bigjohn66 OP
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Actually, yes I did. The male spade connectors seem pretty tight and there is no discoloration like you get when wires and terminal get hot. Everything is bright and shiny. Also, when it fails, wiggling the connectors and wires in the area of the headlight never makes them come on (or go out, if on.) That's why I'm of the belief the ZFE is at fault.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:28 PM   #4
JimVonBaden
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I would at least check the fault codes before spending huge bucks on a computer that almost never fails.

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Old 12-27-2013, 03:43 PM   #5
bemiiten
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I agree, computer is pretty much last thing it's likely to be. Just noticed you mentioned HID lite. I'd go back to the stock setup and see if that helps.
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:00 PM   #6
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My money's on Jim and bemiiten. These characteristics have been analyzed pretty hard in the past by other inmates here and 99% of the time and better it's the ballast... or setup.

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Old 12-27-2013, 04:14 PM   #7
bigjohn66 OP
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The HID worked fine for 2-3 years. When this started a few months back that was the first thing I suspected. However, after replacing each individual component, first one piece at a time and then recently as a complete system, the symptoms didn't change. A used ZFE can be bought for well less than $100, but if the dealer has to reprogram it or a new key has to be bought the price then gets out of hand. Hence my original question.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn66 View Post
The HID worked fine for 2-3 years. When this started a few months back that was the first thing I suspected. However, after replacing each individual component, first one piece at a time and then recently as a complete system, the symptoms didn't change. A used ZFE can be bought for well less than $100, but if the dealer has to reprogram it or a new key has to be bought the price then gets out of hand. Hence my original question.
The control modules are all locked to each other. Once a module is locked to the bike, that's it. A used one will not work. In the automotive world, there are companies that unlock them.

Put an incandescent bulb back in it and see what happens. H.I.D. ballasts make a lot of electronic noise and I wouldn't trust the cheap "conversion" kits to be well shielded. Maybe something aged enough in the bikes electrical system to cause an issue with interference. Maybe the system has become more sensitive to some sort of electronic noise being fed back into the electrical system. Try wrapping the ballast in aluminum foil and grounding it.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:46 PM   #9
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I am with Anorak on the HID ballast. I had a flaky one (cheap as well) on my LT and struggled with it for a long time. Even replaced it with another cheap one. Picked up a good deal on some quality Phillips ballasts and put one in the bike and never a whimper from the thing again. Original 8 year old bulb now fires every time and comes up to full brightness right away. What a difference.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:53 PM   #10
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ON the HID and Hyperlites setup I have - I'm using diodes to prevent feedback into the canbus system. Even with that when I took my bike in for the 12K service the BMW interface couldn't find the individual bikes modules... the head parts guy and the tech told me I needed a new ZFE. Made another appointment - to which I personally pulled the feed wire to my Hyperlites off of the power wire on the bikes diagnostic plug and - BINGO - the BMW interface read the individual modules correctly. I told them about that wire before the service... Which I have since removed...

To my knowledge (limited) the ZFE upper and lower limits on the low beam change through the years. Here is an example. Which is one reason why certain setups will run on a specific year(s) of the bike. The HID setup I have now I know I am within the range of the ZFE - so if something goes I've got a jump on where to look.

Changing back to the original setup would -help- rule out the HID setup and system.

-Edit-
I think I remember a guy that had his ZFE 'flashed'. So that may be an option if it does in fact go that way. Don't know..


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Old 12-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #11
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Put a normal bulb in and try it from there, at least its a cheap test. Another thing that can affect HID lights working properly is if the battery isn't in the greatest shape.
If it turns out to be the HID kit you can buy CAN friendly kits that might solve your problem.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:37 PM   #12
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zfe replacement

I had an issue on my hp2 with the lights and the instruments. I needed a new brain . It had to be downloaded at the dealer. That is one of the jobs I think are best suited for the dealer. Problems all gone. Richard.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler View Post
I am with Anorak on the HID ballast. I had a flaky one (cheap as well) on my LT and struggled with it for a long time. Even replaced it with another cheap one. Picked up a good deal on some quality Phillips ballasts and put one in the bike and never a whimper from the thing again. Original 8 year old bulb now fires every time and comes up to full brightness right away. What a difference.
Aftermarket, made in China HID ballasts and igniters are, for the most part, poorly shielded, especially the newer ones. They typically use a plastic box with no attempt to shield them. You will not find any FCC part 95 compliance for these things. If you hold an AM radio up close, you'll get the idea.

The ballasts I have are solid alloy with metal top and bottom plates covering the cavity where the circuit board is lodged...no RF or magnetic interference.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn66 View Post
I'm suspecting I have a bad Central Vehicle Electronics box (ZFE.) '05 GS with 82k miles.
I had to have my ZFE replaced back in 2011 on my 05 with around the same mileage. When I turned the key on, the left blinker would come on and would not cancel. If I pushed right blinker, the 4 ways would come on as if pressing both buttons at the same time! The left blinker would never stop unless I turned the key off! And usually the parking light would come on after I removed the key, so I had to disconnect the battery after messing with it.

My Gs-911 said the left switch was faulty. It was not.. I removed the all the signal bulbs and went on a trip. Stopped in a dealer close to where I was spending a few days and they diagnosed the ZFE as the problem. They replaced it the next day and the problem was solved.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:21 AM   #15
Charleetho
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I have a spare ZFE with a matching Key from an 05 if you decide to go that route. PM me.
I would go back to H7 bulbs and see if the problem goes away. Good luck.
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