BMW Remote Start - prepare yourself for take off

Bianka Rommel
Oct 19, 2020

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 exactly does it work, and how do you activate it in your BMW? We’ll tell you everything you need to know. 

BMW remote start function

What is BMW remote start?

BMW remote 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.

When did BMW put a remote 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 start?

Currently, the complete list of cars featuring factory installed BMW remote start includes the below models equipped with iDrive system 7.0:

  • 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 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. 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 can you add a remote start on BMW?

To have remote start included in your vehicle, you have to specify to your BMW dealer you’d like to have it added before you make a purchase (remember to make sure it's available in your region). This option will cost you around $500, but it’s the only way to get an OEM remote start option in your BMW. Also, a relatively cheap one compared to the total vehicle costs. 

Otherwise, if you’d want to retrofit a remote start to your current BMW, you’re left with third-party kits that don’t guarantee the greatest quality and integration with the vehicle system.

How to set up engine start remote for BMW?

 To start using a 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.

Take a look at this video to see how to enable and use a BMW remote start:

How to use remote start

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

BMW remote start with phone

Using BMW remote start from the BMW ConnectedDrive 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. 

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.

BMW remote start on a Display Key

If you want to use 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. 


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