Upgrading Your BMW iDrive Controller to iDrive Touch With a DIY Retrofit Kit

BimmerTech
Nov 8, 2019

BMW iDrive Touch Controller

If you get that sinking feeling every time BMW comes out with a new feature or upgrade and wish you had waited just a little longer to purchase your baby, it’s time to throw those regrets out the window. Adding modern features, like a rear view camera, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, or an iDrive Touch controller is easy with a BimmerTech retrofit kit. If you have a few do-it-yourself skills and a free Saturday afternoon, your ultimate driving machine could soon be sporting a sweet, new makeover.

But what does refreshing your BMW involve? Let’s go behind the scenes of an iDrive Touch Controller Retrofit install so you can see for yourself how it works.

BMW iDrive Touch Controller

BMW iDrive Touch Controller

Behold, a beautiful 2014 650i BMW with the M sport package. It’s got it all... except the iDrive Touch Controller! That wasn’t a problem back in 2014, but in 2019 it’s starting to feel like something’s missing. The world is passing an otherwise great car by. Luckily, there's nothing stopping us from making a few custom additions...

This is a car that still has plenty of life left in it, so picking up a few pieces of modern technology makes perfect sense. An iDrive touch controller is quicker, safer and more convenient to use than the old spin-wheel, so it's a great way to give an older car a new lease of life.

 

Retrofitting iDrive touch

Since this 650i does have NBT iDrive (Navigation Professional), it can be upgraded to iDrive Touch with a single kit. If it didn’t have NBT iDrive, BimmerTech offers a retrofit kit for that, too.

After protecting any dirt-prone surfaces and connecting the car to an external battery charger to ensure the system stays online during programming, we’re ready to begin. We remove some of the trim surrounding the center console with just a screwdriver and simply swap out the original iDrive controller with the replacement iDrive Touch retrofit. Then we connect the Touch ECU to the existing iDrive controller wiring. So far, no wire-cutting necessary! We replace the console and get started on programming.

 

Coding the iDrive touch controller

If you are installing this yourself, you would take an internet-connected Windows laptop, and connect it to the OBD2 port located under the driver’s side dashboard with an ethernet cable. The OBD2 port is easily accessible; there’s no need to remove anything to access it! Then connect with our technician over the internet and we’ll take it from there, doing all the necessary programming remotely. BimmerTech works closely with dealers around the world, so if you prefer to have a local installer handling this for you, they’ll also be able to take care of the activation coding.

 

How BMW iDrive touch works

When complete, you will be able to enjoy a whole new way of interacting with your iDrive system. The touch-sensitive controller allows you to write letters with your finger directly on the iDrive knob rather than having to scroll for letter input. And yes, you can use this exciting new input method anywhere the system typically uses a speller wheel, from navigation to multimedia search, your contacts list and phone numbers.

BMW iDrive Touch Controller

Another bonus of installing a BimmerTech retrofit kit is that since we take care of the programming, we can perform other software upgrades at the same time. In the install above, for example, we also updated the maps to the latest version, activated the the video playback control from the USB port in the armrest (including the ability to play high-definition .mkv files), updated the iDrive software, and set the Auto Start Stop button to remember the last settings. This last one was especially welcome, as it fixed a frustrating feature in many older BMWs that automatically shut off your car when you come to a complete stop, like at a traffic light. While you could always disable the feature, the system did not remember the settings and you were forced to re-disable it every time you started up the car. Our fix keeps your preferences stored for good! Fortunately, BMW has also fixed this issue in more recent models.

 

Upgrading your BMW

So, what’s your next dream upgrade? Likely, BimmerTech has a retrofit kit to make it happen. Get in touch with us if you have any questions or we can help point you in the right direction.

 

 

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