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Oct 20, 2020
BMW’s 5 Series has always proven popular, and that didn’t change with the sixth-generation F10. But with the seventh-generation G30 in production since 2017, its predecessor is starting to show its age, particularly when it comes to the latest in-car technology.
So what can you do? Do you really have to upgrade to the latest BMW 5 Series, or can you stick with the F10 a little while longer?
To help you decide, we take an in-depth look at the F10 5 Series, how it is for owners and what you can do to revitalize your older vehicle. Thanks to our range of retrofits for BMW F10, it’s particularly easy to upgrade your vehicle with BimmerTech. We offer park assist cameras, Apple CarPlay, navigation retrofit , car audio upgrades and more, all for the BMW 5 Series.
Let’s start simple. BMW uses so many overlapping terms — BMW 5 Series, BMW 535i, BMW F10 — that things can easily get a little confusing. Of the three, F10 is the one you’re probably least likely to hear. People usually refer to their cars as a BMW 325i or BMW 335i, rather than an F10.
It’s clear how everything fits together when you break it down, though. The 5 Series is BMW’s family of executive cars, sitting above the more compact 3 Series and below the luxurious 7 Series. BMW has been making 5 Series vehicles since 1972, across several different versions.
The F10 is the model code BMW uses internally for the sixth-generation 5 Series sedan, produced between 2010 and 2016. The model code sets it apart from earlier-generation 5 Series vehicles, like the E60, E39 and E34.
For each different body style in a series and generation, BMW uses a separate model code. Most of the world had three sixth-generation 5 Series models to choose from: F10, F11 and F07.
The F10 is the standard, four-door sedan. Within the same model family is the F11 wagon (branded as the 5 Series Touring), and the F07 5 Series Gran Turismo, a five-door hatchback with a sloping, coupe-style fastback.
There are a lot of similarities between the three BMW 5 Series models, including many engine options. That means there’s no way of knowing whether BMW 530i refers to a family-friendly wagon or an executive sedan. Of course, not all configurations are available for all three models, with the F10 sedan having the biggest range of options.
As the different models have so much in common, they are often considered alongside each other. For example, major BMW F10 forums also see plenty of discussion about the F11 and F07.
Being newer, the current G30 5 Series packs in more technology than its predecessor, but the F10 was quick to get the latest features available at the time, so it doesn’t lag too far behind. If having a car with plenty of tech matters to you, you won’t be disappointed by a used F10 5 Series with the Technology Package.
The Technology Package includes:
Enhanced Bluetooth (S6NSA) was sold as a standalone option, so is not included as part of the Technology Package. Enhanced Bluetooth adds support for greater smartphone integration, so you can browse the music library on your phone over Bluetooth, pair two phones and check your texts, emails and calendar events on the iDrive screen with BMW’s Mobile Office feature.
If your vehicle didn’t come with this option from the factory, with BimmerTech’s remote iDrive coding it’s easy to activate Enhanced Bluetooth in your BMW F10. Contact us for more information, or learn what BMW Enhanced Bluetooth does.
All BMW F Series vehicles, including the F10 5 Series, use the same remote key fob. That means owners of the F10/F11/F07 can generally follow usage instructions and demos made with key fobs for the F30 3 Series, F25 X3, F15 X5 or other models from the same generation.
If your F10 doesn’t have Comfort Access, the standard key fobs come with non-rechargeable batteries. The battery is only rated to last around three years, so it could be time for a replacement if your fob has stopped working, or you’ve just noticed your remote range has got worse.
To replace the battery, first take out the internal key blade, which will uncover a small hole behind the plastic back plate of the fob. You can get access to the CR 2450 battery by prying off the back plate; the key blade is an ideal size to use for leverage.
Changing the battery won’t always help, though. In that case, it could be the key fob itself that has a problem. If your key fob is broken or faulty, or you’ve lost one and need a replacement, the only option is getting a new BMW original key fob.
BMW’s security measures mean all F10 key fobs need programming to match your exact vehicle, which means second-hand fobs aren’t an option. Strictly pairing vehicles with specific fobs is intended to prevent thieves accessing your vehicle using an unauthorized fob. The BMW F10 replacement key fobs available from BimmerTech have been prepared by BMW, ensuring they’ll work correctly with your vehicle. Fobs are available with or without the laser cut key blade.
When you’ve got your replacement F10 key fob, you’ll need to activate it before use by pairing it with your BMW.
It’s simple and only takes a few steps. After unlocking your vehicle with your existing key, set the key down away from your car, hold the new fob against the key markings on the side of the steering column and hold the start/stop button until the ‘no key’ warning light disappears. Pressing the start/stop button again will confirm the pairing worked.
Locking and unlocking the doors isn’t the limit of what the BMW F10 key fob can do. The windows and sunroof can also be controlled remotely; just press and hold the lock and unlock buttons on your key fob to roll the windows up and down.
Depending on your country, the remote closing feature might not be available from BMW. If holding the lock button on your F10’s key fob doesn’t close your vehicle’s windows, you will need to activate this option through coding, available from BimmerTech.
Remote window control isn’t all coding can do for your F10. Coding lets you change several aspects of your iDrive, so your car better suits your needs.
BimmerTech’s Easy iDrive Coding is the simplest way to code your BMW F10. Depending on your vehicle, two coding methods are possible: coding via cable or via USB.
F10s from the 2011—2013 model years are more likely to need some options to be coded via cable, as are newer vehicles that don’t come with the higher-end navigation options. When coding via cable, you’ll need to connect your laptop to your BMW’s OBD port with an ENET cable. Our expert technician can then use this connection to code your F10 remotely.
For F10s with an NBT, coding is usually performed via USB. This is the most convenient coding process available, and lets you code your car whenever and wherever you want. You’ll only need to plug a USB thumb drive into your vehicle’s USB port, and coding will be completed within a few minutes.
With either method, you’ll be able to code your BMW F10 at a time that suits you, without even having to leave home.
You have plenty of options available when coding your F10. Features that prove popular include include:
Your exact vehicle configuration and iDrive head unit version determines which options are compatible with your F10. After entering your VIN on BimmerTech’s BMW iDrive coding page, you’ll see the full list of available options for your car.
In addition to adjusting your iDrive settings, coding can also let you unlock third-party services, like SiriusXM satellite radio for BMW or BMW’s wireless Apple CarPlay option. For many, a new car without CarPlay isn’t even worth considering, so the right BMW F10 CarPlay retrofit is an easy way to add a modern necessity to an older vehicle.
By the time BMW made Apple CarPlay available in its vehicles, the F10 5 Series had already been replaced by the seventh-generation G30. That means factory original wireless Apple CarPlay isn’t an option.
However, BimmerTech’s CarPlay MMI Prime retrofit is a hardware upgrade that lets you use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in your vehicle, and is available for F10. Unlike factory CarPlay for BMWs, CarPlay MMI Prime supports both wired and wireless connections with your iPhone. The CarPlay menu also defaults to a full-screen view, instead of the split-screen interface BMW makes available from the factory. Check whether CarPlay is compatible with your F10.
CarPlay MMI Prime also lets you add Android Auto to your BMW — perfect if you or your family use Android phones.
CarPlay may be your go-to infotainment product for easier, faster and broader app interaction. But if you’re one of those people who look forward to playing Netflix or HBO on their BMW F10 screens, our SmartView HD Apple TVs are something you’ll want to consider.
SmartView HD Apple TV3 and SmartView HD Apple TV4 will allow you to use native video streaming apps, as well as a screen mirroring function for iOS devices. On the list of platforms you’ll find, among others, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, Netflix and iTunes TV shows. Additionally, SmartView HD Apple TV4, being an improved module, will provide you with even more entertainment apps and games, the Siri virtual assistant and an improved remote control with a trackpad.
Since the F10/F11/F07 went out of production, expectations around rearview cameras shifted, too. At the F10’s time, park assist cameras were an optional extra, but backup cameras are now found by law in all new vehicles in the US and Canada.
There are plenty of reasons to have a backup camera, and with BimmerTech, it’s easy to add an aftermarket BMW F10 rear view camera to your car. We even have three high-quality camera models to choose from — MMI, OEM Integration and OEM. All are mounted discreetly in the trunk handle, the image from the camera is displayed on the factory dashboard screen.
|Camera mode||Full screen||Native (with PDC view)*||Native (with PDC view)|
|Requirements||Factory screen||Navigation Professional||Navigation Professional + PDC|
|Installation time||3-4 hours||3-4 hours||3-4 hours|
|Compatible add-ons||SmartView HD AT3/ATV4, SmartView HD Flex, Front View Camera||PDC||Obstacle marking (included), Trailer hitch mode (included), Surround view|
*PDC is not included as part of the kit.
Not sure which camera to add to your 5 Series? Enter your VIN on our BMW Rear View Camera retrofit page to see which options are compatible with your car.
If your iDrive is still feeling a little behind the times, you can bring your F10 up to match the latest vehicles with a few extra hardware and software changes.
If you really want to make sure you have all the latest features in your F10, upgrading your iDrive head unit is a great place to start. Switching out an older or more basic iDrive version for superior hardware will instantly give you a range of new features and a sleek, modern interface.
When preparing to upgrade, the first step is checking which BMW iDrive version you have, and finding out what extra features the NBT Evo ID6 head unit — the latest offered in the BMW F10 — has to offer.
Older F10s tended to come with the CIC head unit as the premium option, but since the 2013 model year, that’s been replaced with the newer NBT iDrive. How you upgrade to NBT Evo ID6 depends on which iDrive head unit you already have in your F10.
If an iDrive retrofit seems a little full-on, by far the easiest way to keep your 5 Series from lagging behind the latest cars is by updating the BMW navigation maps. BMW recommends updating your maps to the latest version every 6 months, as new roads and points of interest are regularly added.
Updating is simple; just upload the latest map data to your vehicle through the USB port and enter an authorization code from BMW. BimmerTech’s BMW Navigation Maps Update includes both the BMW map data and the required activation code.
For a more eye-catching change, it's worth considering BMW's 6WB digital cluster. Available from the factory in many F10s, the 6WB is a fully digital instrument panel, with a digitized speedometer and other gauges.
Besides looking the part, it also makes it easier to get the information you need while driving. The clear, illuminated screen is easy to see at all times of day, and can be customized to show the info you're most interested in. Want to know your speed at a glance? Replace the needle dial with a numeric display, so you'll always know exactly how fast you're driving.
With BimmerTech, it's easy to retrofit a 6WB digital cluster in a BMW F10. It will only take a few minutes, and can be done at home. And for such a simple upgrade, it makes a huge difference to the feeling inside your car.
For audiophiles, no upgrades come before getting your hands on replacement speakers for BMW or an aftermarket amplifier. With the right car audio retrofit, you’ll get immersive sound that compares to BMWs premium Harman Kardon sound system, as well as easy installation.
BimmerTech established its reputation in car audio with the Premium Audio System, the world’s first BMW-specific amplifier kit featuring easy, drop-in installation. For customizing your sound, there’s also powerful 64-bit DSP software. As the kit includes a harness and bracket designed to fit the BMW F10, it’s easy for owners of cars with the base or HiFi stereo options to add an amp to their system. The Premium Audio System is a significant step up from the factory BMW amplifier, characterized by greater power and clarity.
To improve things even more, the Premium Audio System is perfectly complemented by our Alpha One speakers, which are also a great match for the factory BMW amplifier. The tweeters, midranges and underseat subwoofers have all been designed to fit the existing speaker housing in your F10 without modification, so installing them is simple. It only takes an hour or two to transform your BMW’s sound.
BimmerTech has always maintained that the latest cars shouldn’t be alone in having the latest technology. If you want to stick with an older-generation model that still offers a great driving experience, we’re committed to giving you the right F10 retrofits to bring your car up-to-date. If you need any more help upgrading your car, please get in touch with our team.
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