How to Integration Bluetooth Handsfree Calling in your BMW
With the advent of new laws requiring drivers to use a hands-free device when on a call, a solution for hands-free calling for your BMW is more important than ever. Bluetooth provides the perfect way to comply with these laws and stay safe on the road, because with a Bluetooth enabled phone and BMW, the two automatically connect to each other every time you step into your BMW, allowing you to receive and make calls 100% hands free with no physical connection between your car and phone.
Depending on your BMW model, various Bluetooth solutions exist. In this article, we’ll cover the Blutooth solutions available for your BMW which we believe to provide the highest quality integration and most features.
This article will focus on BMWs built 2003 and newer and solutions that are available for those BMWs. Solutions do exist for older vehicles (earlier than 2003 model years) but in general they are not elegant solutions and performance is inconsistent. If you have an older BMW, our recommendation is to purchase a headset and leave it at that.
Depending on the model of your BMW and when it was made, your vehicle uses either an I-Bus or MOST-based communication system to control in-car electronics (like the audio system, climate controls, navigation, etc.), and the products available for each vary. We’ll be dividing the available products by bus system type since the products in each category are relatively similar despite being for varying vehicle models.
We will NOT be covering vehicles outside of those built for the U.S. market as wiring configurations and options packages differ from those here in the U.S. We do not have access to these vehicles, and while we can research and relay information for vehicles outside the U.S. our experience is that real-world testing is generally a necessity to confirm compatibility and functionality.
BMW Bluetooth Integration for i-Bus Equipped Vehicles
Here are several video demonstrations of the Original BMW Bluetooth kit for i-Bus equipped BMWs in action so you can see how it functions, how it dials, and what the features and benefits of the kit are:
The kit is compatible with the following BMWs:
3 Series and M3 Coupes built on or after 03/02 through model year 2006
3 Series and M3 Convertibles built on or after 03/02 through model year 2006
3 Series Sedans built on or after 03/02 through model year 2005
3 Series Wagons built on or after 03/02 through model year 2005
5 Series and M5 Sedans built on or after 03/02 through model year 2003
5 Series Wagons built on or after 09/02 through model year 2003
X5 built on or after 03/02 through model year 2006
Vehicles outside the U.S. will also be compatible provided they were equipped with a telephone kit or Option 640 (telephone pre-wiring).
If your vehicle matches the above date ranges and is equipped with BMW Assist, this kit is compatible with your vehicle. However, you will replace your BMW Assist with this Bluetooth Kit, so you will lose BMW Assist if you install this kit.
BMW advises that there is only a limited range of compatible phones but in our experience virtually all phones with Bluetooth will work with the kit, but in some cases certain phones may not provide all possible features.
The above are the date / model ranges for which an Original BMW kit exists and is engineered to work in your BMW. Some companies modify modules and/or wiring harnesses to allow them to work in vehicles with an i-Bus not in the above date range, but in our experience performance of these units is not 100%. However, should you wish to source such a product, you may want to try www.bimmernav.com as our customers have reported success with their products / service.
So, how do you obtain one of these kits? Contact your local BMW dealership. However, we suggest purchasing the kit without the the Bluetooth Module itself. Here’s why -- the kit is made of up mounting hardware, pairing buttons, wiring harnesses, and a “brain” -- the Bluetooth Module (also called a ULF). However, the Bluetooth Module (ULF) BMW ships with this kit is a 1st generation module with some compatibility issues and older technology.
BMW is currently using an 11th generation ULF in Europe with better components and higher performance and compatibility. We suggest attempting to source the module on eBay or similar -- the part number is 84 10 9 133 329.
When ordering from your local BMW dealership, ask that they sell you the Bluetooth “hardware kit” without a ULF / module. BSW also offer these kits without a ULF module on our website here:
It's also worth noting that installation of the kit is extremely straightforward, requiring minor removal of the trunk carpeting and slight disassembly of the center console in most cases. Instructions on removal and installation can be found on each product listing under the "Install Info" tabs on our website at the above category.
BMW Bluetooth Integration for MOST Equipped Vehicles
For newer BMWs using the more modern fiber-optic based bus system, MOST, the story is much the same as previous models -- functionality is very similar, and kits are available directly from the dealership as a retrofit to your BMW.
Vehicles that use a MOST based communication system are as follows:
3 Series / M3 Sedan, Wagon 06+
3 Series / M3 Coupe, Convertible 07+
5 Series / M5 Sedan, Wagon 04+
6 Series / M6 Coupe, Convertible 04+
7 Series Sedan 02+
X5 / X5M 07+
Please note that this is NOT a list of compatible vehicles -- the above list only outlines which cars us the MOST bus.
For compatibility information and purchasing, we recommend purchasing from the dealership as in some cases programming of your BMW is required for the vehicle to recognize the Bluetooth retrofit kit.
However, if you are also looking to add iPod / iPhone integration, another solution exists -- there is a kit made by a company called mObridge, Inc. (www.mobridgeinc.com) that provides iPod / iPhone and Bluetooth integration in a single unit with a similar feature set to Original BMW parts but allows functionality in cars where no BMW solution may exist and kills two birds with one stone.
The only limitation of the product is that it emulates a CD changer in your BMW, so if your vehicle is not pre-programmed to recognize a CD changer or already equipped with one (which the mObridge unit will replace) then you’ll need to get your BMW programmed to recognize the unit. However, most BMW dealerships will not program your BMW for an aftermarket device, so you’d need to find a independent BMW facility with the appropriate Autologic hardware to program your BMW.