Can You Retrofit a Modern Keyless Entry and Start System in an Older BMW 5 Series?

Retrofitting a modern keyless entry and start system in an older BMW 5 series is a question that many vehicle enthusiasts have pondered. With the advancement in automotive technology, it has become increasingly desirable to upgrade older model vehicles with some of the latest features like remote start, keyless entry, and other state-of-the-art updates. This article will explore the feasibility of such an upgrade, assessing the possible challenges and solutions.

Understanding BMW’s Keyless Entry and Start System

BMW’s keyless entry and start system, also referred to as the ‘Comfort Access System,’ is a convenience feature that has been available in BMW vehicles for several years. It allows drivers to unlock and start their BMW without having to physically use their key fob. The system uses a radio frequency signal that is detected by the vehicle when the key fob is in close proximity.

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Retrofitting this system into an older BMW 5 series requires more than just swapping out parts. The BMW keyless entry and start system is integrated into the vehicle’s electronics and needs to be coded to the specific vehicle. This involves reprogramming the vehicle to recognize the new system and key fob, which typically needs to be performed by a BMW technician or a qualified mechanic with specialized knowledge of BMW’s electronic systems.

Retrofitting the Keyless System: Challenges and Workarounds

Achieving a successful retrofit of the keyless entry and start system in an older BMW 5 series is not without its challenges. For one, the older 5 series cars were not designed to accommodate the modern keyless system. This means that retrofitting will involve modification of the vehicle’s existing wiring and electronics, which can be a complex and time-consuming task.

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Another key challenge is the coding aspect. The keyless system needs to be coded to the specific vehicle, which requires specialized knowledge and equipment. However, you can find several BMW enthusiasts and professionals who offer coding services on various online platforms like iTrader. Beyond coding, the key fob itself also needs to be programmed to the vehicle, adding another layer of complexity to the retrofit process.

Despite these challenges, it’s not an impossible task. Many BMW enthusiasts have successfully retrofitted the keyless system in older 5 series cars. They’ve done this by sourcing used parts from newer BMWs, hiring coding services, and even doing some of the work themselves.

Getting a Quote and Finding the Right Technician

When considering retrofitting a keyless entry and start system into an older BMW 5 series, it’s important to get an accurate quote for the work. The price can vary significantly depending on the specific model year of the 5 series and the cost of the parts and labor involved.

You should reach out to a local BMW service center for a quote, but keep in mind that dealership prices tend to be on the higher end. Alternatively, you can also post your retrofit project on iTrader or similar platforms to attract quotes from independent BMW specialists or enthusiasts who may offer a more competitive price. When seeking a quote, be sure to specify your BMW’s exact model and year, as well as any other relevant information about the vehicle.

Choosing the right technician for the retrofit is critical. Retrofitting a keyless system is a complex task that requires in-depth knowledge of BMW’s electronics and coding systems. The technician should ideally have experience with BMW retrofit projects and should be able to provide references or examples of previous work.

Sourcing the Parts and Finalizing the Retrofit

Finding the right parts for the retrofit can be a challenge. BMW doesn’t officially offer kits for retrofitting the keyless system into older 5 series models. However, some BMW specialists and enthusiasts have been able to source the necessary parts from newer BMWs, including the key fob, the antenna that detects the key fob, as well as the start/stop button and its associated wiring.

While the retrofit process can be complex and time-consuming, the end result can breathe new life into an older BMW 5 series. You will get the convenience of a modern keyless entry and start system, giving your BMW a touch of modern sophistication. Whether you are an aspiring DIY enthusiast or prefer to leave it in the hands of professionals, retrofitting a keyless system in an older BMW 5 series is a viable option if you’re looking to upgrade your vehicle’s features.

Procuring and Installing the Key Fobs and Control Unit

The primary components needed for retrofitting a modern keyless entry and start system into an older BMW 5 series include the key fobs, control unit, the start/stop button, and its associated wiring. The control unit and the key fobs are particularly critical, as they are the heart of the system. The control unit receives the radio frequency signal from the key fob and communicates with the vehicle’s electronic systems, enabling the keyless entry and start functions.

Key fobs can be sourced from online marketplaces or dedicated automotive parts suppliers. However, it’s crucial that the key fobs are genuine BMW parts to ensure compatibility with the system. Be cautious of counterfeit parts, as they could cause damage to the vehicle’s electronic systems or simply not work at all.

The control unit and the start/stop button, on the other hand, can be a little more challenging to find, given they are not standard parts in older BMW 5 series models. Some BMW owners have been successful in sourcing these parts from modern BMW models, either through salvage yards or online automotive parts retailers.

Installing the key fobs and control unit into the older BMW 5 series entails significant changes to the vehicle’s wiring and electronic systems. Skilled professionals who have a deep understanding of the BMW’s electronic systems should ideally handle this to avoid damaging the vehicle or compromising its safety systems.

Concluding Thoughts on Retrofitting Keyless Entry in Older BMW 5 Series

Retrofitting a modern keyless entry and start system into an older BMW 5 series is certainly achievable but not without its challenges. The process involves sourcing the key fobs, control unit, and other necessary parts, as well as finding a skilled technician to perform the complex installation and coding.

The cost of this retrofit can vary significantly depending on the specific model of your BMW, availability of parts, and the technician’s labor fees. Therefore, it’s advisable to get a detailed quote that outlines the cost of parts and labor before embarking on this project.

Despite the complexities and costs involved, retrofitting a keyless entry system into an older BMW 5 Series offers several benefits. It adds a touch of modern convenience and sophistication, making your drives more enjoyable. Additionally, it could potentially enhance the resale value of the vehicle, given that modern buyers might appreciate the retrofit.

In conclusion, if you’re an enthusiast who enjoys the thrill of driving an older BMW 5 series but still crave the convenience of modern technology, retrofitting a keyless entry and start system could be a rewarding project. Remember, the success of this retrofit largely depends on careful planning, sourcing the right parts, and hiring a qualified technician. Therefore, take your time to plan and execute the project efficiently to enjoy the full benefits of a modern keyless entry and start system in your classic BMW 5 series.