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BMW Remote Start - prepare yourself for take off

Bianka Rommel

Jan 13, 2022

BMW Remote Start - prepare yourself for take off

Imagine. You come from the eastern or midwestern United States. It’s a freezing cold winter in your hometown. Temperatures everywhere, including inside your car, plummet to minus digits. But, despite the chilly winds, you still have to head to work. Not so keen on it, are you?

BMW thought it through and made it possible for you to avoid any discomfort when getting into your car. All simply done with the BMW remote start function. How to add this feature to your 2012+ Bimmer and what are the ways to control it? We’ll tell you everything you need to know.

BMW remote start function

What is BMW remote engine start?

BMW remote engine start is a vehicle system consisting of two main parts: a remote starter and a remote transmitter. To put it simply, the remote starter, when added to your car, makes it possible for you to start your BMW remotely with the push of a button on the remote transmitter.

Delving into the details, the remote starter is a small piece of equipment that connects to your ignition switch, ignition wire, power wire, starter wire, brake wire, ground wire and tachometer wire to start the vehicle remotely. Whereas the transmitter is usually a BMW key fob with the remote start function, which lets you start your vehicle by pushing one button.

Although remote starters are very popular in colder regions, they can also be extremely convenient for those BMW owners who live in hotter climates. Whether it’s really cold outside or the temperatures are baking hot, BMW remote start will let you warm up or cool down your car’s interiors and defrost the engine if necessary.

Can I heat my BMW remotely?

Many people wonder if they can turn on the BMW remote start from afar and the answer is – yes, it is possible. You can do it even from your home, but only with the use of the My BMW app (or ConnectedDrive app as it once was). More about that later in the article.

When did BMW put a remote engine start on their cars?

You're probably wondering why some BMWs produced before 2019 have remote start kits, while others lack it. The answer lies in the difference between BMW remote start retrofit kits and the remote engine start option that came with a specific BMW straight from the assembly line.

Officially, it wasn’t until the 2019+ G models with iDrive system 7.0 entered the market that BMW started offering remote engine start as an extra factory option in their Premium packages. The G05 BMW X5 was the first car to be equipped with the remote engine start, and since its launch, each BMW (such as G30 5 Series, G11 7 Series, G01 X3 and G20 3 Series) has followed in its footsteps. 

However, before BMW introduced the newest iDrive System 7.0, it already started offering a BMW remote start kit as a retrofit option for selected cars. These included the F10, F15, and X5 models manufactured in 2018.

Want to check what iDrive version you have? See how to verify it.

What BMW models and year have remote engine start?

Currently, the complete list of cars featuring factory installed BMW remote start includes the below models equipped with iDrive system 7.0, an automatic transmission, 4 or 6 cylinder internal combustion engine, and connection to an active Connected Drive account:

  • G20 BMW 3 Series
  • G22 BMW 4 Series
  • G30 BMW 5 Series
  • G32 BMW 6 Series
  • G11 BMW 7 Series
  • G15 BMW 8 Series
  • G16 BMW M8
  • G29 BMW  Z Series
  • 01 BMW i3
  • 12 BMW i8
  • G01 BMW X3 
  • G02 BMW X4 
  • G05 BMW X5
  • G06 BMW X6
  • G07 BMW X7
  • G08 BMW X8

How do I know if my BMW has remote engine start?

To check if your car is equipped with BMW remote start, look up the ‘Remote engine start’ option in your Premium Package or in the settings of your iDrive sub-menu. If your BMW features an iDrive 7.0 (or the so called Live Cockpit) and a digital gauge cluster, it may be there.  

This is what iDrive system 7.0 (Live Cockpit) and the digital gauge cluster look like .

MGU iDrive

MGU digital cluster

MGU touch controller

Why doesn't BMW have a remote start? 

Remote start isn’t new to the car industry. As you may have noticed, many vehicle brands have already had remote start available in their cars for a couple of years, and BMW only recently decided to join them. The lack of a remote start function, however, wasn’t purely an oversight by BMW, but a halted project due to environmental regulations, or in case of countries like the UK, the insurance implications. 

In which countries is BMW remote start available?

While BMWs for the North American market offered this feature to car owners, European branches were banned from doing the same. Why is that so? The laws of some European countries, including Germany, prevent remote start from being factory installed, to keep car owners from leaving their vehicles running for long periods of time. That’s why if your BMW was produced over the pond, it’ll most likely have this feature disabled.

How to activate remote start on BMW?

 To start using an OEM BMW remote start, first you need to activate the feature in your car’s iDrive system sub-menu. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to ‘Car’.
  2. Then enter ‘Settings’.
  3. Choose ‘Climate Comfort’.
  4. Then select ‘Preconditioning / ventilation’.
  5. And lastly the ‘Remote engine start’ option will pop up for activation.

Remote engine start

How to use remote start

There are three ways in which you can auto start your BMW: from the My BMW app, via a BMW factory key fob and through a BMW Display Key. See how each of them differs.

How to use BMW remote start with phone

Using the OEM BMW remote start from the My BMW app is probably the most convenient way of controlling the remote features. All you have to do is enter the app, select the option ‘Climate now’ and confirm you want to start/stop your engine or plan preconditioning. What’s more, you can do it without having your car anywhere near you. 

Don’t know much about the BMW Digital Key and the Connected app feature? Read about it here. 

How to use BMW remote start on key

This one might be a hidden key fob feature some of you didn’t know about ;) You can actually activate or deactivate your car’s engine with your standard BMW key fob. Just make sure your vehicle is equipped with the ‘remote engine start’ option: S1CRA, and simply turn on your engine by pressing the lock button three times within one second. It will take a few seconds for the engine to start. If you’d like to turn the engine off you can press the lock button once again three times. Unlike with the app, in order to work this procedure has to be done in close proximity to the vehicle.

How to use BMW remote start on a Display Key

If you want to use the OEM remote start with the BMW Display Key, go to the sub-menu ‘Preconditioning setting’, tap the climate control symbol, select ‘Activate now’ and ‘Engine start’. The flashing of the turn indicator will show you that remote start is switched on. After approximately 15 minutes, the engine will automatically shut off, or you can do it directly by pushing the start/stop button without pressing the brake pedal.

Get to know more about the BMW Display Key. 

How can you add a remote start on BMW?

There are a few legit ways to do that. You can either have it in the OEM version straight from the factory, complete a BMW remote start update in your newest car or get an equally safe and reliable BMW remote start retrofit for your older vehicle.

Adding OEM BMW remote start 

You can approach it two ways:

  • Before you even make a car purchase, specify to your BMW dealer you’d like to have remote start added to your iDrive (remember to make sure it's available in your region). This option will cost you around $500, but it will be the easiest way to get an OEM remote start option in your BMW. Also, a relatively cheap one compared to the total vehicle costs. Cars compatible with this option are listed above.
  • If it skipped your attention and you bought a BMW without the remote start from the factory, you can still download it over-the-air via the latest Remote Software Upgrade. As of September 2021 BMW remote start update is available for compatible vehicles as a Function on Demand on the ConnectedDrive store – you can learn more about it on their ConnectedDrive website.

        So how to set up remote start in BMW this way? 

  1. You’ll have to add the option to your shopping cart in the ConnectedDrive account, then enter your payment details and lastly confirm purchase. 
  2. The new software will be downloaded while you’re driving and you’ll receive an activation message on the iDrive display once it’s available for an install. 
  3. To activate it simply follow the instructions given on your screen, but remember to park your car first. The BMW remote start install will take no longer than 5 minutes.
  4. You’ll get notified about a successful installation before you start your next drive.  

Adding BMW remote start retrofit

If you’re not compatible with either BMW remote start upgrade option, we might have a retrofit for you! BimmerTech’s BMW remote start retrofit kit is a spot-on solution for 2012+ BMWs allowing you to enjoy the convenience of remote climate control in your older car. And the best part about it? It works almost like the OEM version (with a few enhancements ;) ) and is just as safe and reliable.

How does it work? 

To engage the BMW remote start just stand near your car – within the range of your key fob (so at a maximum of 230 ft) – and press the lock button on your BMW key fob three times within 2 seconds. Your vehicle will remain locked, yet the engine will start immediately and activate the last settings of your climate control. To turn the engine off, press the trunk button on your key fob three times. If you don’t do that, it’ll shut down automatically after 10, 20, 30 or 40 minutes depending on your setup, which you can toggle by pressing different button combinations on your key fob. 

Contrary to the OEM BMW remote start, our retrofit doesn’t require activating the remote start feature in the iDrive. It will demand however having a spare BMW key fob permanently installed under the front passenger's footwell panel, to ensure your on-board computer recognizes the presence of a BMW key fob and allows for engine activation. 

Of course, due to safety precautions, it’s not possible to start your engine with ONLY the key fob inside your car, as it doesn’t contain a battery. So if you had any worries about that – dont ;) Having the second key is vital for engine engagement.

Which BMWs can add a remote start retrofit?

Most of the BMWs produced after 2012 and equipped with one of the electronic modules (FEM, CAS4, BDC1) will be compatible with the BMW remote start retrofit. The list includes:

  • 1 Series BMW F20, F21, F52, F40
  • 2 Series BMW F22, F23, F45, F46
  • 3 Series BMW F30, F35
  • 4 Series BMW F32, F33, F36 3GT, F34
  • 5 Series BMW F10, F11, F18
  • 6 Series BMW F06
  • 7 Series BMW F01, F02, F03, F04
  • X1 BMW F48, F49
  • X2 BMW F39
  • X3 BMW F25, F97
  • X4 BMW F26, F98
  • X5 BMW F15
  • X5M BMW F85
  • X6M BMW F86
  • 5GT BMW F07
  • i8 BMW I12, I15
  • M1 BMW
  • M2 BMW F87
  • M3 BMW F80
  • M4 BMW F82, F83
  • M5 BMW F90
  • M6 BMW F12, F13

How to install BMW remote start retrofit?

As for the installation, adding BMW remote start retrofit kit is a DIY process that takes up to 4 hours, involves no coding or permanent modifications, is 100% reversible and lease-friendly. It’ll require disassembling the front passenger's footwell areas to get to the electronic module, hence we recommend not to rush with the install. Take your time, be gentle, careful and keep track of which screw and clip came from where in order to reinstall the parts correctly. Here’s an exemplary installation procedure:

Decode your VIN to learn more about the process for your BMW.

BMW remote ventilation

Want to use the BMW remote ventilation feature, but there’s no way to add a BMW remote start to your vehicle? There is a way out!  Whether you have an E, F or G Series BMW, you can always use one of your BMW hidden comfort features.

BMW Parked-Car ventilation will run your fan in a turned off vehicle to get the air moving at a specific time, but won’t set the climate control on to make your car cold. 

Here’s how to activate the comfort ventilation:

  1. Go to your iDrive menu.
  2. Enter ‘Settings’.
  3. Select ‘Climate’.
  4. Activate parked-car ventilation.
  5. Then set up the BMW parked-car ventilation timer. Choose either timer 1 or timer 2 and set the desired time for the comfort ventilation to start. Next, either activate timer 1 or timer 2.
  6. Lastly, the ‘Fan’ symbol will activate and start to flash when the system is switched on.

From now on, the fan will get moving at the set time for 30 minutes, to make the interior of your car bearable by the time you get in. See for yourself.

BMW remote start not working

If your BMW remote start function suddenly stops working you should double-check your vehicle's state. What you want to remember is BMW remote start has smart technology built-in. This means it can detect whether it’s safe to start the engine or not. So, to engage the system several criteria need to be met:

  • the windows and sunroof must be closed
  • all doors must be locked
  • the parking brake needs to be engaged
  • fuel has to be on high or medium level
  • there should be no check engine lights on

And lastly, if your OEM BMW remote engine start stops working after a software update, it’s most likely because of an iDrive settings reset. In that case, make sure the option ‘allow engine to start’ is checked in your iDrive system.

Summary

BMW Remote start is one of the features truly boosting the comfort level in your BMW, but it’s not the only latest high-tech solution BMW has to offer! Want to explore some recent BMW inventions?  See how you can interact with your iDrive using 6 simple gestures, control your BMW using only a phone and access plenty of information about your BMW remotely. Stay on top of all BMW things with BimmerTech.

 

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