04-01-2013, 06:23 AM
Location: Noblesville, IN
Join Date: Feb 2011
Mein Auto: 2012 BMW X3 35i
Hardwiring a Radar Detector: What could possibly go wrong?
I would have preferred that my first post on this forum not be embarrassing, but hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes.
A little background: I was an ASE Master Technician and full-time Mazda technician at a dealership. This was only a little after dinosaurs roamed the earth (1986), but I'm not an amateur with DIY work and have installed dozens of aftermarket stereos and other electronic add-ons over the years. I have hard-wired my Valentine One for several cars including a 2007 X5 and an 2008 M3. I had no fear whatsoever of pulling down the overhead console in my 2012 X3 and finding the appropriate wiring.
So last Saturday, I decided to take on this project, expecting it to take no more than an hour.
I had read the threads posted here about this project, so I was aware that the console would be difficult to remove. I actually didn't have any problem getting the console pulled the first 1.5" away from the headliner, but this wasn't quite enough room to access the metal clips that actually hold it in. While trying to get just a little more clearance so I could release a side clip with a screwdriver, I applied a too much pressure and pulled apart some of the "innards" of the console. When this happened, part of the courtesy light switch dropped and became lodged between the two sections deep inside the console. There was absolutely no way to undo this damage with the console in the car, so I released the super-strong clips, dropped the console, unplugged all the connectors and removed it from the car.
With the console removed, I switched on the car and found a 12V wire and a ground wire that would suffice for the V1 wiring.
I took the console in the house and got it under a magnifying lamp and tried to figure out what do do with it. I determined there was no way to fix it without disassembling it, so I took it apart. This component contains the sunroof switch, three light switches, three light bulbs, motion sensors for the Anti-theft alarm, the switch for calling BMW Assist and the passenger airbag light. The assembly consists of several pieces and it is designed to be assembled fairly easily but not to be disassembled at all. I managed to get it apart (breaking a couple of clips in the process), but without causing any damage to the switches or the circuit board (or so I thought).
I reconnected it, stuck it back in the roof, breathed a sigh of relief and started the car. And immediately discovered three problems:
1) The passenger restraint warning message appeared on the display along with the airbag lights in the dash.
2) The courtesy lamps didn't work
3) The sunroof didn't work.
I removed the console again, rechecked all the connections and removed the wire taps I'd put in for the V1. I reassembled it and got exactly the same result.
I knew I'd have to go to the BMW dealer to get the airbag light reset. I decided to go with full disclosure about what had happened, thinking that they'd cut me some slack (having bought 4 vehicles including 3 BMWs there in the past 3 years).
Instead, they reset the airbag light but found there was still a fault with the Control Module in the console. After some additional troubleshooting, they determined that the console would have to be replaced. Bottom line: $500 in parts and $600 in labor, none of it covered by warranty. While I didn't expect them to file a fraudulent warranty claim and let me off the hook altogether, I also didn't expect to be charged full retail for parts and labor. I griped about it and they took off a whole 10% from the bill.
So my V1 install (which still isn't done) cost me nearly $1,000.
My advice if you're contemplating this:
1) Don't use the console. You're better off routing wires to the fuse box.
2) If you do decide the use wires above the console, do NOT disconnect the console from the wiring and turn on the car. I'm certain that this is what caused the airbag warning.
I did insist that they return the old console. I wanted it A) as a reminder that I don't know how to work on cars anymore and B) To make sure my dealer couldn't submit the part as a warranty claim.
After I got it home, I took it apart and reassembled it. I've provided instructions and photographs showing how it comes apart and goes together in the PDF document linked below. I hope you never have to use it.