01-26-2011, 06:47 PM
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Join Date: Jan 2011
Mein Auto: 2011 550i (F10)
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 http://forums.5series.net/topic/708-radar-det/. 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: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97545 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).
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.
Last edited by sep23; 01-26-2011 at 07:00 PM.
Reason: Spelling error!