How to Code Your BMW at Home With Coding Software

Paul Smith
Oct 12, 2020

The BMW iDrive comes packed full of features, and chances are you'll find one or two that aren't quite what you're looking for. It could even come down to something as simple as your country; BMW deactivates some iDrive features in certain markets. Not ideal if it means missing out on something you could really do with.

Luckily, in many cases there's a simple solution: Coding Software for BMW. We take a look at what it is, how to use it and how picking the right BMW coding options can make a world of difference to your car.

remote coding for BMW

What is BMW iDrive coding and programming?

In short, BMW iDrive coding involves making small software changes to your car, unlocking new features or changing how existing ones work. In most cases, those features are already baked into your iDrive by BMW, and coding is only required to make them available. An example is coding to activate an aftermarket backup camera — iDrive is already designed to accommodate a rear view camera in cars that come optioned with one from the factory, and activating a retrofit kit only requires unlocking those software capabilities.

The result is that, when done correctly, BMW iDrive coding is very safe.

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What is the difference between BMW programming and coding?

For some, that is the difference between coding and programming on BMW. Coding usually refers to making minor changes to your vehicle's software configuration, generally unlocking features that BMW itself makes available in some of its vehicles. Programming, on the other hand, is often used to refer to more drastic changes that fundamentally change the way your vehicle works through new software. For example, a tuner might program your vehicle to alter the engine management systems. These processes carry a far more significant risk.

Does BMW coding void my warranty?

Many jurisdictions defend individuals' rights to make changes to their vehicles without voiding their warranty. In the US, this is covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and similar legislation may be in place in other countries. American consumers are free to take their car to an independent shop or work on it themselves, and can also use aftermarket or recycled parts without affecting their coverage. To deny service under warranty, the warranty provider must demonstrate that the fault was caused by the modification or poor quality work done by an unauthorised party.

Similar rules apply when coding. Making changes to your iDrive parameters won't stop you from making a warranty claim on a faulty wiper motor, but if your iDrive system starts malfunctioning, BMW might not be willing to pick up the cost.

Fortunately, careful coding totally eliminates the risk of causing any problems in the vast majority of cases. As the coding options being activated were designed by BMW and are often available from the factory in select vehicles and markets, changing the parameters won't do any damage to your vehicle. Issues resulting from coding are usually the result of inexperienced coders making the wrong changes to their software, which is why it's always best to rely on an expert.

BMW coding for beginners

If you want to try coding your BMW yourself, you only need a coding interface cable (ENET or DCAN depending on your vehicle) and a BMW coding tool.

How to use coding software for BMW

To code your car, you'll need to connect your laptop to your car with the appropriate coding cable. When buying a BMW coding cable, it's important to make sure you've bought the right one for your vehicle; F and G Series cars will need an ENET cable, while older E Series cars need a DCAN cable. You can then use your coding tool to navigate your vehicle's software and modify the different parameters. You're likely to need a reference to make sure you're changing the correct options.

Though dedicated software makes it possible for anybody to code their own car by following a BMW coding tutorial, it isn't without its risks. Many people don't feel comfortable making software changes to their vehicles, and it's easy for inexperienced coders to make mistakes. If you do decide to code your BMW by yourself at home, it's important to make sure you always back up your car's iDrive system configuration before making any changes. That way, if you make a mistake, you can roll back to the latest working version.

BMW coding near me - Cable & USB Coding

For a more stress-free experience, it's often better to have the work done by a professional. While a coding shop will require you to take your car in for their technician to work on, BimmerTech's innovative BMW iDrive coding process means you can code your car quickly at home at a time you choose.

By far the easiest option is our USB iDrive coding. You only need to save a coding file onto a USB stick and put it in the USB port in your BMW, whenever you want. It has all the convenience of coding by yourself using coding software for BMW, without the risk of making a mistake.

For vehicles that don't support coding via USB, we also offer remote coding with our expert technician. Make an appointment at a time that suits you, connect with our technician online and your chosen coding options will be activated in around 30 minutes. Unlike a coding shop, you won't have to drive across town or leave your car in the shop overnight. With BimmerTech, both USB and cable iDrive coding couldn't be easier.

Which BMWs support USB coding?

Whether your vehicle will be coded via cable or USB depends on your BMW's iDrive version, as well as which coding options you're having activated. Cars with CIC or NBT iDrives can generally be coded with our easy USB process, as can most NBT Evo vehicles, depending on what software version they're running. The exception is Chinese, Japanese and Korean BMWs, which can't be coded by USB.

Most other vehicles will be coded via cable by our technician. Then again, a few options can only be activated via cable, in which case even a car that supports USB coding will need a remote coding session with BimmerTech.

To find out what options BimmerTech can activate for you, check out our range of  BMW iDrive coding options, personalised for your vehicle.

The most popular BMW coding options

What options can you activate through coding? And what do they all do? With coding, there are so many options that it can be difficult to keep track of them all and figure out which options are going to make a difference to you.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular options people go for when customizing their BMW.

Legal disclaimer deactivation

For liability reasons, BMW shows a warning whenever you start your car, telling you to use iDrive safely. Safety first, of course, but many people find it more than a little monotonous to be reminded several times a day. Disabling the BMW legal disclaimer is one of the most popular coding changes.

With the BMW safety warning switched off, you'll be able to access iDrive immediately after getting in your car.

Video in motion & services in motion

For liability reasons, BMW makes it impossible to watch videos, DVDs and other content, or access valuable resources like the User Manual while you're driving. Though you should always keep your focus on the road, your passengers might still want to watch a film on the road. A sensible driver could also enjoy a TED talk or podcast on YouTube.

BMW Video in Motion coding lets you disable the block on video and services when driving. Just be sure to always use your iDrive responsibly.

BMW automatic folding mirrors coding

Many people like to keep their mirrors folded when their car is parked, reducing the risk of nicks and dings. Instead of having to fold them manually each time you get out of your car, iDrive coding can automate the process with the remote power folding option.

Your mirrors can be set to automatically fold when the car is locked, meaning you'll always know your mirrors are safely tucked in. What's more, it also gives great visual confirmation that your car is locked.

Remote windows control

And why stop there? Coding can also let you close your windows and sunroof with your remote key fob, simply by holding the lock button. Holding the unlock button on returning your car will return the windows and sunroof to their open positions.

This is a great option for anybody who regularly travels with backseat passengers, who might leave the windows open without you noticing. With remote windows control, it's easy to confirm your BMW is secure when leaving your car.

BMW Enhanced Bluetooth activation

Bluetooth connectivity is now a standard feature, but that doesn't mean there isn't more to get out of your smartphone with Enhanced Bluetooth. If you're not sure what BMW Enhanced Bluetooth is, here are the highlights:

  • Pair two phones at once, great for couples and families.
  • Access Office features (like reading and sending SMS) through iDrive.
  • Play music from your phone through the USB port for better sound quality.

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In most recent BMWs, Enhanced Bluetooth is a simple coding procedure, but in some older vehicles, you may require some additional hardware. Get in touch to find out what you do in your BMW.

Full text message display

With your phone and BMW connected, coding can also make it easier to access information through the iDrive display. By default, the BMW Mobile Office feature only shows a preview of incoming text messages. After coding, the full text message can be displayed, making it easier to get all the information you need on the road.

Apple CarPlay activation coding

Many BMWs built since 2017 come with the CarPlay Preparation (S6CPA) option, which includes the hardware required to use Apple CarPlay in your BMW. Having a car that's ready for CarPlay doesn't necessarily mean you'll actually be able to use it, though, if you didn't add the CarPlay activation option from your dealer.

In that case, you may be able to activate Apple CarPlay in your BMW in a coding session with our technician. Check compatibility with your car to find out more.

Coding SiriusXM satellite radio

When coding with BimmerTech, it will also be possible to activate SiriusXM satellite radio in your BMW. Like CarPlay, this isn't something you'll be able to do yourself — it requires a verified activation code from BMW.

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SiriusXM activation is available for almost all US/Canadian BMWs produced in the last decade, without requiring any additional hardware. Some vehicles may require adding an antenna or new radio before activating SiriusXM through coding.

RDC safety

Coding your BMW isn't just for entertainment or convenience. It can also improve safety when driving.

The RDC Safety option adds a digital display of tire pressures to your iDrive screen. That way, you can be sure your tires are always operating in a safe range. Vital for anybody living in an area with a changeable climate.

Sport+ driving performance option

With your tire pressure in a safe range, coding can also help you squeeze more raw performance out of your BMW.

F Series vehicles with automatic gearboxes can unlock the BMW Sport Plus driving option, promising improved throttle response, quicker gear shifts and reduced traction control for a sportier driving experience. Activated in a remote coding session with our technician, Sport+ brings your BMW's full potential to life.

BMW Map update 2020

While you're modifying your car, why not also update your BMW navigation maps for 2020? Despite what some people think, updating your maps doesn't require any coding at all. You only need to load the latest BMW map data to your iDrive system through the USB port, then enter an activation number on the screen. With that done, you'll have the latest map data, complete with up-to-date speed limits, used for on-screen speed limit information.

The confusion might come from the fact that the map update process looks a lot like BimmerTech's easy USB iDrive coding. Both only require a specially prepared USB stick with the correct file, and are quick and user-friendly.

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Real-time traffic information USA

Navigation is about more than just maps, though. Mobile apps like Google Maps and Waze have changed the way people drive by giving up-to-the-minute info on traffic and congestion. In a rush? Dodge the streets that are busy at the moment and take a quieter route to save time.

In select marketsincluding the USABMW can give you the same experience using your iDrive's own navigation system. Activated through coding with BimmerTech, you'll always know which roads are congested, and where traffic is still flowing.

Battery registration

Are you preparing to replace an old car battery in your 2002 or newer BMW? At BimmerTech we offer a battery registration service, which will ensure your vehicle’s longevity.

Until now when it came time to choose your new battery you had to pick one of similar type and capacity.  Luckily, our registration process frees you from that necessity; BimmerTech specialists will handle adjusting your vehicle to the new battery specifications. 

Our experts will help you register the new battery and code your BMW on-board computer in less than 30 minutes — as usual, all from the comfort of your own home.

BMW software update 2020

Though not strictly coding, you may also be interested in  updating your BMW's software. This is a far more complex process that should only be performed by a professional. It also brings greater risks of causing problems, so isn't generally recommended without good reason.

However, if you have a specific issue with your car that you need solving, our expert technician is on hand to help in a remote session. A BMW iDrive software update can help improve software compatibility, but won't change your iDrive interface.

If you'd like to learn more about the process and whether it is the right option for you, contact our team to discuss your needs.

Charging your BMW's battery when updating iDrive software

During your session, you'll need to keep your vehicle switched on and powered for a longer period of time. If your BMW isn't attached to a high quality charger with a consistent 15A output throughout the session, you run the risk of your iDrive shutting down with the update still in process, corrupting your iDrive software.

As your vehicle will be powered on, it's also important to complete the software update outside or in a well ventilated area.

Custom coding for BMW

Need something coded on your BMW, but can't find it listed on our website? Our expert technician has seen it all, and is on hand to tackle your unique requirements. Whether activating new features, setting up hardware or resetting a new battery, we're ready to help.

Just contact our team with your VIN and coding request, and we'll get back to you about what we can do.

What next?

Interested in unlocking your BMW's hidden features? If you've decided to have your vehicle coded by a professional, you can check the full list of options available for your car on our easy BMW iDrive coding page. Just enter your VIN and get a personalised list of compatible BMW coding options.

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