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sep23 01-26-2011 05:47 PM

Hardwire Radar Detector Install (F10)
Hello! Right from the start I have to say that I have never posted a tutorial on something like this, so don't be too hard on me!!! I am sure there are better or even simpler ways to do this but this method worked for me. I did make a minor mistake which I will point out but overall it was relatively easy since I had done this before.

Our previous 5-series was a 2008 model and I was able to find a great tutorial that allowed me to hardwire my Escort Passport 9500i easily So, to give back to the community, I took some pictures of my new install and wanted to share with you guys how I was able to hardwire this same detector in a 2011 550i (F10). So here goes….

Just for info, I was using the Direct Wire Power Cord accessory that comes with the 9500i. I had to order a new one for this install since I left the original one in my old 550. It is a nice inline fused cord with a spade connector for power and a circle connector for ground. Since I used the midline wire taps (JT&T 22-16AWG Red Mid-Line Tap from Home Depot), I ended up cutting these connectors off.

Opening the Overhead Console:
This is, without a doubt, the hardest part of the entire install, but not too hard! The console really consists of two layers (basic decorative plastic covering and the actual "meat" of the console) but it is much easier to remove both layers at one time (I could not see an easy way to fully separate the 2 layers).
If you use a spatula (plastic rather than metal) or have strong fingernails, you can easily separate the plastic housing layer (outer)from the circuit board/lights layer (inner) on the rear and front of the console (Photo 1).
It is held together with rather weak plastic clips. I tried but could not fully separate the 2 layers but by doing this I was able to see how to pull out the entire console as one unit.
The full console is held tightly in place by 6 metal clips (Photo 2).
The front and rear clips are easy to release but the two side clips are much stiffer. Here is how I was able to release these clips:

1) If you have successfully released the front and rear plastic clips of the outer layer, with a flashlight, you should be able to see the 2 metal clips at the front of the console. By putting a couple of fingers between the clips and applying steady down pressure you should be able to pop the front of the console down freeing the clips. Just make sure you are pulling down on the inner layer and not the flimsy outer layer. If you are having problems with this and you have small hands, you may be able to reach a couple of fingers in the very front between the windshield and the roof's interior and push down with that hand while pulling down with your other hand at the same time. A good photo of this (for an E90) is here: You probably need to sit in the front passenger seat backwards to be able to do this….

2) Next, you have the 2 side clips to work on. I was able to see the side of each clip by pulling down somewhat aggressively on the outer layer from the rear of the console, which gave me enough room to stick a screwdriver in to push the clip inward while pulling down on the full console (sorry, I should have taken a photo of this step). Once one of the side clips is released, you should be able to do the same on the other side or you just might be able to wiggle and work the entire console down completely by rotating it toward the rear of the car.

I think this all might sound a bit daunting but really in retrospect it wasn't too difficult. I really think that if you have smaller hands it might be easier…. Here is a photo of the console fully removed and hanging by the wire harness. I did not bother disconnecting the harness because the console was never really in my way (Photo 3)!

Finding the Correct Wires:
I used a volt meter to probe several wires until I found one that seemed to carry a switched 12vdc supply. Here is where I made my mistake! I found a wire leading to the auxiliary sunroof motor (big silver thing that tilts the sunroof up and down) that seemed to carry a good 12 volts (it read 12.2 volts on my digital voltmeter). I quickly tapped into it using that 22-16g mid-line tap (Radio Shack or Home Depot). Upon testing the line again, I got 11.98 volts with the ignition engaged and 12.20 volts with the engine running. Should be good, right? Wrong for my Escort Passport 9500i! Connected to this supply, the Escort would only make a barely audible clicking noise. I connected it using the cigarette socket supply and it turned on properly. I then measured the voltage coming from the cigarette socket and it was 13.8 volts!!! So I figured I had just tapped a lower power source and needed to find a better source among the many wires in the harness.
The eventual solution was a green & brown wire in a bundle just forward of the silver sunroof motor. The bundle was heading towards the the rearview mirror (photo 4).

i had to remove some of the black cloth tape to fully expose the wires. I checked and I had a good 13.5-13.9 volts there. Again using the 22-16 gauge midline tap, I connected my positive wire that would lead to the detector (photo 5).
This time the detector turned on perfectly and off when the car turned off!

Next, I needed to find a good ground. On my prior install I was able to use a bolt that was screwed into the roof's interior. On the F10, these bolts were a bit harder to see and I had no angled tools that would allow me to loosen them to then secure my ground wire to. If you have a skinny angled socket wrench and small hands you may be able to do this. The bolts are to the right and left of the sunroof motor (photo 6).
In my search for a better "12 volt" wire, I did find a couple of easily accessible wires that were good grounds. The one I used was on the harness going to the sunroof motor (photo 7).
I disconnected the plug going to the motor and looking at the back side of the plug (you are seeing the wires entering the back of the plug, the ground wire is the yellow & green wire in the upper left most hole or lower rightmost hole depending on how you are holding it (photo 8).
Using another midline tap, I attached the ground wire leading to the detector. Note you will see the unused "mistake" tap from my first attempt at finding suitable 12v power (photo 9).

Final Steps
The final steps are pretty basic…. Remember to plug the harness back into the sunroof motor and make sure it still works!
Then, I stuffed the remaining amount of detector power cord into the roof interior making sure that it would not interfere with replacement of the overhead console. My midline taps are a bit bulky so I had to tuck those in nicely for the same reason. I ran the other end of the direct-wire cord (the part that plugs into the detector) out between the roof interior and the windshield just to the left of the rearview mirror deck. I carefully tucked the cord into the left side of that deck so that only a bit of wire is exposed leading to the detector (photo 10).

I reconfirmed that the detector was properly powered and then I replaced the overhead console. Before replacing it, make sure to snap the outer layer (plastic clips) to the inner layer. You should be able to easily confirm that all the clips are engaged. Now carefully replace the full console by first seating the rear part first and make sure the fat wire harness is out of the way and tucked to the right (passenger side). Now rotate the front of the console up and push upward somewhat forcefully. You will hear the snap as the clips catch. Do the same for the sides and the rear. When you are done, everything should look flush and "factory" (photos 11 & 12).

Obviously, you do this install at your own risk. I can assume no responsibility or liability for any damage or problems you have with your install. I have only outlined what worked for my specific case but it should help you with your install. I would love to hear from anyone who finds this helpful or if you have a better/easier way. I just wanted to try to give back to all of you who have helped me as a lurker in the past.
Scott P.

mw5 01-26-2011 08:42 PM


I don't know much about electronic wiring (so please excuse my ignorance), but won't tapping into the power that goes to the rearview mirror affect power/functionality of the mirror?

sep23 01-26-2011 10:31 PM

Ah ha! Good Question!

Originally Posted by mw5 (Post 5803636)

I don't know much about electronic wiring (so please excuse my ignorance), but won't tapping into the power that goes to the rearview mirror affect power/functionality of the mirror?

Glad you asked! I was worried about that as well... So I measured the current draw with the detector on and off and noticed less than 1 milliAmp drop and absolutely no voltage drop! So based on these measurements, there hopefully shouldn't be a problem... I will certainly update you guys, if I notice a problem!
Scott P.

Houseofpang 01-26-2011 10:43 PM

Great writeup, thank you!

Needsdecaf 01-27-2011 09:57 AM

Invest in a set of interior trim removal tools and taking that console off will be easy. Something like this is invaluable:$detail$

sep23 01-27-2011 10:04 AM

Wow, that looks like a nice set of tools! I'm sure that would have come in handy for this install! Thanks so much for the info and the link! I think I will get these!
Scott P.

radarguy 01-27-2011 07:04 PM

Excellent write up. This will be the first mod to my F10 as it was on my E39. Thanks.

kaysid 01-28-2011 06:16 PM

Great write up. Looking to add this to my list.. :thumbup:

alanintx 03-01-2011 08:41 PM

Great Writeup! The Overhead Light/Switch console looks very similar to the console in my new X3 (F25). Looks like BMW is practicing design re-use. Perhaps my mind is dull, but I am still unclear about how to "pop" the console down. Did you start with he inner piece (the sort of trapezoid shaped part with the lights and switches) or the big plastic housing with the openings for the motion detector. The way I read your instructions, the inner piece has 4 plastic clips and the outer piece has 6 metal clips. If I understood correctly, you were not able to fully separate the 2 pieces. My apologies, but if you can clarify this, it will give me the best chance of not breaking something on my one month-old car. BTW, I had my radar detector hardwired in my E93, and that was a breeze, once I saw how the clips worked. Thanks in advance!

sep23 03-04-2011 01:47 PM

Hi Alan,
I was considering the part with the 6 metal clips as the inner part and the outer part has the 4 plastic clips. I started by putting a plastic spatula just under the rear portion of the outer piece and pulled down enough to pull down more with my fingers. I then worked my fingers around this outer piece to the sides were I could then see the metal clips on the side of the inner piece. I was able to work my fingers in to where I was now pulling down on the beefy inner piece and finally apply enough downward force on the inner piece to pull it down, releasing the two metal clips. I then did the same on the other sides until the entire unit came out. I wish I could explain this better but essentially, the outer piece is too flimsy to pull down on enough to cause the metal clips on the inner piece to release. The goal should be to open up the outer piece enough so that you can work your fingers or tool on to the stronger inner piece and pull down on that to release the metal clips. I feel that if you apply all your downward force to the outer piece, it will break before the inner's metal clips release... I hope this helps!


alanintx 03-11-2011 04:57 PM

Well, I finally was able to get the lighting console down today without destroying anything. I had the BMW TIS instructions on how to do it and I will tell you that your instructions were easier to follow. I even went and bought the Griot trim tools and they definitely did lessen my chances of scratching or breaking something. BMW did make some minor trim design changes between the F10 and the F25, but the basics were the same. There were no metal clips in the back of the inner piece, there were clips in the front, but one of mine was bent during the manufacturing process. I straightened it prior to re-installation. Now about those side clips.... BMW's instructions said something about "unlocking a retaining lug". Still have no idea what that means, but what you described is accurate. There is a white plastic extrusion (the retaining lug?) that the clip fits over. The black plastic piece that encircles the switches can be easily removed, which allows you to see the bottom of the white plastic piece through a slot and maneuver it to make it easier to unclip the metal clips. Perhaps that was what they meant by "unlocking the retaining lug". Either way, with enough prodding from the side with one of the Griot tools (a thin spatula), the console popped down.

Lo and behold, there many more wires than my E39 or E93. I really did not want to start disconnecting connectors to test for a switched 12V source, as some of the wiring deals with the "BMW assist" and I had no desire to go anywhere near that. So, I made an educated guess, and went for the green and brown wire (as you did) that headed towards the rear-view mirror. I figured it made sense that BMW would use a similar wiring scheme, and since it worked for you.... My logic prevailed! 12V switched, although I noticed it takes about 2 seconds to go off when the car is switched off (a smart BMW relay?). I was able to use the bolt that went into the roof, so the "ground" was easy. Situating the wires was a bit of a challenge, as my V1 has a plastic barrel connector. In the past it fit very well towards the front of the cavity. Now, all the empty room was towards the rear so I guided the wires and connector towards the back.

I popped the courtesy light behind the visor and ran the radar detector power wire over the headliner and out through the courtesy light opening. The V1 uses a flat phone wire, so it was easy to clip the courtesy light back on with a little extra push. My detector is clipped on the visor so only the end of the wire, jutting out from behind the visor, is visible.

Re-installing the console was the easiest part of the job. I positioned the rear of it, and it just popped right back in. All done!

I hope I do not have to go back up there for a while, as I am still not sure how exactly those side clips released.

Thanks again for your help!

Needsdecaf 03-11-2011 05:16 PM

What are these BMW TIS instructions you refer to?

alanintx 03-12-2011 08:30 AM

A friend of mine that works at the BMW dealership printed them for me. It is titled "6131043 Removing and installing/replacing roof switch cluster (complete with trim)" There are about 4 lines of text and 2 pictures. In short, it is worthless.

The text (more or less):

Carefully unclip trim with special tool 00 9 323 (a plastic butter knife) and remove

Unlock retaining lugs with suitable tool while carefully lifting out with special tool 00 9 325 (a plastic spatula)

Remove roof switch cluster in direction of arrow (from the front down)

Unlock plug connections underneath and disconnect (which I did not do)

Needsdecaf 03-12-2011 09:15 AM

Cool, thanks. Man, for my Volvo, we had a copy of VADIS (Volvo Aftersale Dealer Information System or something like that). Essentially it was a shop manual with procedures for just about everything.

Wish we had something like that for the F10. I like to know how to take things apart when needed.

alanintx 03-12-2011 10:13 AM

Ah. The TIS (Technical Information Something in German) is the BMW version. It used to be available on CD, but now I think it is only available to the dealers via a private web site.

sep23 03-12-2011 11:06 AM

Hi Alan,
Thanks for the good feedback. I'm happy to hear that my write up helped in some way and that you got your V1 working nicely! I think it's funny that BMW's TIS is so minimal. It's great that we can all help each other! Anyways, thanks again!
Take care,

B R A N D X® 04-30-2011 01:01 PM

Worked like a charm. Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and clear DIY!

I have nothing to add after doing this myself other than to say take your time removing the OH console and any time you start to get frustrated take a 15 minute break. You'll get it with perseverance!


sep23 04-30-2011 01:12 PM

Thanks for your feedback! I'm so happy to hear that you had success getting things working! Take care!


Needsdecaf 04-30-2011 01:57 PM


Originally Posted by B R A N D X® (Post 6034200)
Worked like a charm. Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and clear DIY!

I have nothing to add after doing this myself other than to say take your time removing the OH console and any time you start to get frustrated take a 15 minute break. You'll get it with perseverance!


Did you ground in the same place?

Steamer 05-01-2011 01:34 PM

Great instructions, will need to give it a try while wife's at work, she always gives me a hard time when I tear I to something that is fairly new

bravocharlie 05-02-2011 11:55 AM

Great post. Well done!

I wired mine slightly differently using the fuse box in the glove comparment. The question is does anyone know which of the fuses are switched with the ignition? I can't find one that is, they all appear to be hot.

Thanks in advance.

Was Auch immer 05-02-2011 11:58 AM

Glad it is working and the writeup is very well done, pic is worth a thousand words.

Two thoughts
1. Current draw from the 9500i will cause a voltage drop in the wire itself and at every connection along the way from Battery to the tap in point, so always use the lowest guage wire available.

2. Ground is a relative term. Check for ground connectivity between the selected point and the BMW official ground for jumper cables should be done. It can be different and I will not bore all with the detail.

Enjoy the result, are you going to use the suction cups or convert to some other mount ?

Needsdecaf 06-05-2011 01:31 PM

Thanks Sep23! Have to say that I followed this very helpful install today while installing the hardwire for my V1. I was able to identify the wires necessary for switched 12v power, and tapped them very easily using the same type of in-line wire taps shown above.

I'm not super happy with the placement of the remote display. My usual place is where the A Pillar meets the dash top. On the F10, it's not really all that flat. I installed it there anyway, as I didn't like any of the other places that I test fit it on. Just personal preference.

As for getting the overhead console open, it's really easy - just pull. I've taken apart a lot of interior trim in my life, so I know the right amount of pressure needed to release the snap-in connectors. Given enough gentle pressure, the whole thing just pops right out. Pull from the windshield side first, as the rear is hooked into the overhead.

shawnsheridan 06-05-2011 06:51 PM

Hardwire Radar Detector Install (F10) - Mirror Housing
Excellent write up! Thanks. Similarly, I hardwired mine straight into the Mirror Housing and detailed it here:

FWERTH 06-27-2011 07:38 AM

Great job and pictures. Your procedure will work perfectly with my new 2011 X3. When I first tried to do this without any research I had no problem getting the front and rear clips released but couldn't get the middle ones for fear of breaking something. Now that's not a problem, due to your great details and pictures.

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