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F07 Gran Turismo (2010 - Current)
The 5 Series Gran Turismo -- now available in the USA as a 535i, 550i and 550i xDrive model.

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  #1  
Old 04-26-2013, 07:06 AM
DocHilgers DocHilgers is offline
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Question towing

Since you can buy original towing equipment for the GT in Germany, does anyone have an idea how (and maybe where) to get this in the USA? I like the idea of the towbar being hidden away and the trailer hitch flipping out on demand.
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2013, 11:13 AM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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The factory trailer hitch, made for them by Westphalia, will cost you an arm and a leg to buy and install - it's a multi-thousand dollar endeavor as a factory option, and more to install afterwards (where they do sell it). I have a hitch from http://execuhitch.com/tow-hitches/bm...0-current.html installed on mine. I also picked up a wiring harness kit last time I was in England from www.rightconnections.co.uk. Execuhitch can sell you a harness that would make the lights work, but (as of now) do not have one that also will disable the PDC, affect the stability control, and function as the factory harness works, the RightConnections one does (and, it does all this without having to have the car's computer reprogrammed!, which the factory one does). Since those options aren't available from the factory here, the local dealers are reluctant and maybe just plain unable to do this.

With the Execuhitch, there are no new holes - it just bolts on. The factory hitch requires you to buy a new bumper cover - on this one, you cut a portion of the bottom horizontal cover out. You do need to drill a hole to mount a wiring harness, to get things from inside to outside. You will need to buy the receiver, and if you decide to tow an actual trailer, would need to buy the ball hitch and a harness (their receiver is only rated for carrying a bike rack, their ball hitch can tow a trailer). I've had mine for about a year, carrying a bike rack, and found it a pain to turn off the PDC to eliminate the alarms whenever it was in reverse (and for a short while once then in drive). Plus, if you turn off the PDC, you lose both ends of the car - the harness just turns off the rear when you have something plugged in. In Europe, if a bike rack obstructs the vehicle's lights, you must use a cycle light bar to replicate those light functions...I picked one of those up, too, and when it's plugged in, tells the vehicle it has a trailer and everything's fine. You'd need one of the Euro type plugs (the 13-pin DIN plug is really nice - quarter-turn twist lock - waterproof). If you needed a US style plug, you'd build an adapter to combine the turn/brake functions and get the desired plug...all of the signals are available in the 13-pin plug.

It depends on how handy you are...both of those things (hitch and harness) can be installed by a handy DIY'er. The hardest part is probably taking the rear bumper cover off without breaking any of the tabs. If you do, you have to buy a new bumper cover then have it painted...Installing the harness, the hardest thing is figuring out how to remove the required trunk trim, and drilling the hole for the cable pass-through the rear. Should you decide to do this, I can give you a few more tips as one of the wires you needed to tap into (the third brake light) was a pain finding.

I had the dealer install the hitch, but if you're near the factory, they can install it for cheap, and they say they can do it in about a hour. I installed the harness afterwards, but it would be a much easier install if done while the bumper cover was off as you'd be able to thread the cable and drill the hole much easier.

Should you talk to Execuhitch, say hi to Daryl and say Jim sent you. In the process, we had a lot of conversations while I was trying to figure out what I wanted, and talking about options on the harness. They can get the factory harness for the X-series, but the sedans do not have the towing make-ready stuff in them. If it did, it would be totally plug and play (other than the programming), since the harness kit would then literally just plug into existing sockets in the car.
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2013, 01:04 PM
invisihitch invisihitch is offline
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First, I know jadnashuanh has some nice photos of the invisihitch on his GT. You may want to get him to post those so you can see how the hitch, or "towbar" as they say in Europe, is completely hidden when not in use. (Btw, thanks for your nice compliments Jim!)

The invisihitch, formerly execuhitch, was developed overseas and is as close as you can get to the German hitch for the GT here in North America. The issue with the wiring, as Jim pointed out, is that the factory will not install the tow-prep wiring on any version of the GT that is destined for North American delivery. (BMWNA does not market the GT as a tow vehicle, whereas just about everywhere else in the world the vehicle is marketed, optionally, as a tow vehicle).

To remedy this, we offer our own trailer-lights harness for the GT. It was developed specifically for the entire BMW line, so no issues at all with the computer alarming or anything like that (and you don't have to drill a hole to install it). However, as Jim noted, it will not automatically silence the rear PDC alarm when reversing with a trailer attached. This is a feature of the factory tow-prep on the GT in Europe which is not available in North America. If you want that feature on a North American version of the GT, you will have to import the Right Connections harness from Great Britain as Jim did. And then you will have to convert its Euro light signals to the different standard that is used for trailer lights here in North America.

Cheers,
Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2013, 09:57 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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There are some pictures of my vehicle in this thread http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ght=execuhitch
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  #5  
Old 04-28-2013, 02:01 PM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Daryl, I started a thread back in October in which I said the Dean with Invisihitch had replied to my towing inquiry. Dean had said the capacity of your F07 hitch was 2,500#, yet Jadnashuanh said his hitch was Class III. Your website says your hitch exceeds the towing capacity of the vehicle, which would be 4,620#. Can you clarify, as this might make a difference in my decision?

Also, does anyone know for sure what towing does to your warranty? I know the Invisihitch website says the hitch will not affect the warranty? I recently stopped by the Duluth, GA BMW dealership to look at a GT. The salesman didn't know the answer to the warranty and called BMWNA. Someone there supposedly told him that unless the hitch was distributed by BMWNA, its installation would invalidate the warranty. And no, BMWNA did not offer a hitch. So, has this issue been resolved with BMWNA?

Of course, the usual attitude at most BMW dealerships is: What? You want to tow? You'll drive an X-Series. You want a diesel in a 5-Series? You'll drive an X-5. You have the audacity to want an F11 diesel with a hitch? You need to move to Europe!

Thanks,

Jim

The previous thread was regarding the F07 vs. E61. I still haven't made a move.
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...543&highlight=
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  #6  
Old 04-28-2013, 04:03 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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The hitch is stronger than the vehicle's specs...do not exceed the vehicle's specs. I had my dealer install the hitch, and they've not given me any hassles with any warranty work. Now, since I also have the wiring harness in, it's hard to say should an electrical issue come up, but it's working fine for now. I did have an electrical problem, but that was resolved before I installed the harness. In talking to the installer where I got my harness in England, he said the only issue they'd ever had (and he had not sold this harness for a BMW) was that the CANBus trailer interface module did not power down properly, and drained the battery on occasion. He was talking about the Westphalia interface (the one that makes the BMW OEM, plug-and-play one). Before I covered things up, I did monitor this with mine (it has some diagnostic LED's on it), and it always turned off after about 10-seconds after shutting the vehicle down - about the same time other items got their shutdown command from the central computer. Now, something strange like turning the vehicle on/off/on or whatever in rapid succession, might get things confusing on the CANbus, and it might not shut down.

I could see them invalidating the 12-year rust warranty if it rusted in the area where you have to drill a hole to pass the harness through from inside to outside...I primed and painted that area pretty well, so hope that's never an issue.

Installation of any hitch (includes the factory one) has you remove the crush panels behind the bumper. This means more force is applied to the chassis since those panels are no longer there to crush and absorb some energy. But, unless the impact was like 2.5mph or less, it would still damage the frame, regardless of whether it had a hitch or not. This is more an issue with your insurance company than BMW, though. I do not intend to actually tow a trailer, but am using it for a bike carrier...it's a costly add-on, but cheaper than fixing the bike and roof after forgetting it's there and trying to drive into the garage!

What would be somewhat of a pain in the BMW would be to try to add on an electronic trailer brake controller. The simple solution (again, somewhat costly) is the Prodigy RF Remote...no internal wiring...it talks to the brake controller (added onto the trailer) via remote RF signals. That's the path I'd take, should I decide I needed to tow something with brakes. It's been awhile since I looked it up, but the F07 towing capacities vary based on whether the trailer has brakes or not. I think it was the 2500# without brakes.

FWIW, when I was in England, I did stop at a BMW dealer to see if I could get what was required to 'do it right' with BMW parts...the list of different parts was astounding! It started out with a bigger fan, and all sorts of other little things. Now, I think the USA may have the heavier duty fan as standard since we do have areas that could potentially stress the one they apparently use in cooler England. But, you get the idea.

I will say that because I have a harness that communicates with the vehicle (the other, non-OEM choices, passively listen only) it triggers all of the factory towing functionality. The central display shows the trailer symbol when you have something plugged into the harness and are in reverse, it feels like it adjusts the accelerator calibration to make things smoother, and, I'm sure it also triggers stability control functionality. So, if you wanted to actually tow a trailer, you only have two choices in the USA IF you want all of the factory functionality - buy the aftermarket Westphalia harness (they make the OEM one, but this is more generic), or the Right Connections one. If you buy the factory, or Westphalia one, you have to pay the dealer to reprogram the computer, which may be problematic in the USA, since they do not sell it here, they may not have any factory support to reprogram the vehicle. The Right Connections box just works. I think the difference is that the factory interface box is a more generic part, and may need to be programmed for this function, whereas, Right Connections preprograms it for trailer functionality, which is why it works out of the box.

BTW, both the Westphalia (sp?) and the Right Connections harness need to patch into two signals (plus the CANbus) in the vehicle (not counting power and ground): RH rear turn signal and the center brake light. While it can figure out the turn signal activations from the CANbus, it can't figure out the hazard lights when the computer has that shut off...it uses that turn signal to determine the hazards are on when there's no CANbus traffic (it actually takes a flash or two of the lights before the trailer lights start flashing). And, by tapping into the center brake light signal, it can still turn the trailer brake lights on should the computer die. Both the Westphalia and the Right Connections harness work in the same manner. They may tap into those signals in different places, but they still do it the same way.

There is a rubber grommet that may have been big enough to add the Right Connections harness through, but I chose to install it per their instructions, which called for drilling its own hole. The harness was built with the grommet already installed, so it should seal better than trying to poke through an existing one.

Last edited by jadnashuanh; 04-28-2013 at 05:52 PM. Reason: added more info
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  #7  
Old 04-28-2013, 05:33 PM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Thanks! Seems like the guy at the dealership was wrong or wanted to sell me an X-5.

I occasionally tow laser equipment to and from Nashville, 250 miles away & total trailer weight ~ 2,000 lbs. Fortunately that stuff usually rides on a semi on a music tour. I have to drive there ~ 3 times a month just in the car. I'm sick of 13.5 mpg unloaded/9mpg towing with my Touareg.

I also occasionally tow a 3,500# ski boat, but its trailer has surge brakes which don't need a controller.

I installed the hitch & wiring harness on the Touareg with no problems but I live only 20 minutes from Invisihitch. I'd probably just have them install it.

I looked at a used GT yesterday at a Toyota dealership & have a few other non-towing related questions. I'll ask them in my previous thread.
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Past:
'99 540iT M-Sport, '01 Audi A6 Avant, '01 Audi allroad, '97 540i, '93 Lexus SC300 m, '89 535i, '83 635i, '85 Alfa GTV6, '79 320i, '71 & 69 2002, '69 Alfa Spider, '62 Olds 98 (1st car)
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2013, 05:59 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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I added some more info in my previous post...you may want to read it.
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  #9  
Old 04-29-2013, 09:29 AM
invisihitch invisihitch is offline
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I can confirm that the invisihitch for the 5 Series GT is indeed a full Class 3 rated hitch receiver. So the towing capacity of the hitch (5,000+ lbs) exceeds that of the vehicle. You will want to watch your tongue weight carefully however. In the USA, it is common to use a 10% rule of thumb for the ratio of tongue weight to towing capacity. But, the chassis of the GT will not handle 500 lbs of tongue weight. So, yes, you can tow heavy with the GT but I suggest limiting your tongue weight to 250 lbs.

As for the statement that installing a hitch other than one distributed by BMW will "invalidate the warranty", such threatened action is illegal under the federal "Magnuson-Moss" Warranty Act. Per that federal law, you can install any non-OEM accessory on your vehicle you want without fear of voiding the manufacturer's warranty by doing so. In the event of a future warranty claim, if the dealer believes that the addition of a non-OEM accessory caused the specific problem at hand, according to the law the dealer must prove (not merely claim) that this is the case before that particular warranty claim can be denied. Even in that case, the full protection of the warranty still remains intact, with the exception of that particular claim. I am surprised to hear that a warranty representative of BMWNA would not be fully aware of this US law.

Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com
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  #10  
Old 04-30-2013, 10:57 AM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Thanks, Daryl. Sounds like y'all have this issue covered. I left a voicemail & Steve returned my call regarding a hitch for an E61.
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Past:
'99 540iT M-Sport, '01 Audi A6 Avant, '01 Audi allroad, '97 540i, '93 Lexus SC300 m, '89 535i, '83 635i, '85 Alfa GTV6, '79 320i, '71 & 69 2002, '69 Alfa Spider, '62 Olds 98 (1st car)
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2013, 07:11 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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From BMW's South Africa website (not all list the towing specs, this one does), for the permitted tongue weight varies by model: 100Kg for the 535i and 75Kg for the 550i (I'm guessing there's more standard equipment in the rear of the 550i that limits the chassis capacity). The unbraked max load is 750Kg, and the maximum braked load is 2100Kg.

So, it's this (assuming the specs translate to the USA models, which I think they will):
Model/Tongue Weight/ Unbraked Trailer/ Braked Trailer
535i/ 100Kg/220#/ 750Kg/1650#/ 2100Kg/4620#
550i/ 75Kg/165#/ same as above / same as above

Tried to get it to be a nicer looking table, but the info is there...
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2013, 10:42 PM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Thanks, jad

Steve from invisihitch called me back today & confirmed that they do not have an E61 hitch . But... they could build one that would have the same capacity as the car is rated for in Europe (& I would suppose SA, too). Rough guesstimate ~ $ 2,600 vs. $ 1k for a Class III for an F07. I need to learn my tongue weight for the ski boat, but it's a double axel trailer.

That may make an E61 doable for me if I really have to have one.

One side comment (& please see my resurrected thread RE: 535XiT vs. GT) When I looked at a GT here in Atlanta a few days ago at a Toyota dealership, I was really shocked at the lack of access to the cargo compartment. I the salesman & I could only open the small hatch while the rear window stayed down. That would have been a deal breaker for me, but fortunately I found online pics of the whole hatch open. Now to figure out the rear latch is another issue for this GT in addition to its previous collision. Again, see my other thread.

I'm actually starting to like the looks of the GT more & feeling a GT would be a great solution. This one example in ATL might not be the right one, though.
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Past:
'99 540iT M-Sport, '01 Audi A6 Avant, '01 Audi allroad, '97 540i, '93 Lexus SC300 m, '89 535i, '83 635i, '85 Alfa GTV6, '79 320i, '71 & 69 2002, '69 Alfa Spider, '62 Olds 98 (1st car)
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  #13  
Old 05-01-2013, 10:13 AM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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Depending on the model year, the button in the vehicle and the remote only open the smaller hatch. To open the full hatch, there's a second switch to the right under the lip by the license plate that you press to open that. So, there are actually two switches at the rear - middle, small hatch; right, large hatch. Once you have the whole hatch open, you can remove the tray, and if you don't already have the underfloor compartment full, it will fit in there. Also note, the trunk/cabin dividers can be released and spring to vertical, if that helps. With some aftermarket reprogramming, you can switch those functions around if you wish. I haven't done it, but hear it is possible.
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2013, 04:29 PM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Well, it looks like I may need to reconsider the appropriateness of a GT for my use.

I occasionally tow laser equipment to and from Nashville, 250 miles away & total trailer weight ~ 2,000 lbs. Fortunately that stuff usually rides on a semi on a music tour. I have to drive there ~ 3 times a month just in the car. I'm sick of 13.5 mpg unloaded/9mpg towing with my Touareg.

I also occasionally tow a 3,500# ski boat, but its trailer has surge brakes which don't need a controller.


I've been researching hitch weight and single vs. tandem axle trailers. Most experts advise a hitch weight of ~ 10%; a few advise as little as 5-7%, but a lower hitch to total weight ratio can create instability. I had erroneously assumed a tandem axle trailer would have a lower hitch weight. I weighed our ski boat trailer at the jack wheel. Granted the jack is a couple of feet behind the hitch ball socket, but it pegged a 330 lb. capacity scale. Reducing tongue weight by moving the boat farther back on the trailer seems pretty risky. Daryl at Invisihitch also expressed concern over tongue weight.

As for the 2k # trailer, it is unbraked, and over Jad's 1650# figure.

Back to considering keeping the Touareg just for towing...
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Current:
'12 535 XDrive (Blk. Saffire Met. Blk Nappa, Sport, DHP, ARS, Premium Audio, Tech & Cold Pkgs), '05 VW Touareg V8, '13 VW Jetta TDI (wife's) '06 Jetta (daughter's)
Past:
'99 540iT M-Sport, '01 Audi A6 Avant, '01 Audi allroad, '97 540i, '93 Lexus SC300 m, '89 535i, '83 635i, '85 Alfa GTV6, '79 320i, '71 & 69 2002, '69 Alfa Spider, '62 Olds 98 (1st car)
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  #15  
Old 07-03-2013, 08:16 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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I do not know what, if anything, might change if you got the OEM trailer functionality which includes triggering the vehicle's stability control functionality. Since trailers are not supported on the cars (only the X-series) BMW sells in the USA, at least from the dealer network, I do not know if you could ask them about it.

Maybe, one of the members where BMW supports towing on the GT can find out and post here. I cannot believe that the actual vehicle is different in that aspect of the vehicles sold in the USA verses elsewhere.
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:38 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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Well, in checking, it appears even on the X5, the max tongue weight is only 120Kg (only slightly better than the GT), but it can handle 2700kg (braked, more than the GT) and 750Kg unbraked (the same as the GT).

I can't believe they would allow 2700Kg with 120Kg tongue weight unless the vehicle could handle it. I would NOT want to try this without enabling the vehicle's stability control, and you can get that from the dealer in the USA, but not on the GT (where the only real option is the RightConnections harness and control box here). Now, whether you can load your trailer to produce that tongue weight is another thing altogether.

I installed the harness to disable the rear (only) PDC as a convenience, and have not used it to tow a trailer, I only use it to carry a tray with my folding recumbent trike on it. I might need to pull a trailer someday, and it's ready for that as well.
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  #17  
Old 01-25-2014, 02:15 PM
Duvee1 Duvee1 is offline
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HI All

I just found this site and discovered it because i'm trying to get some feed back on wiring in a 7 way hitch plug on my 2011 x5d. I need to set this up for a trailer I occasionly use. I am planning to use a wireless barke controll, whichI guess would not complicate things to much but the trailer dealership I do busniess with is very skidish about wiring in the hitch plug. I'm guessing there is a kit which contains a legitmate wireing harness adapter to the do the job for a diy'er like myself. Anyone have any experience with this type of install on a 2011 X5?

Duvve1
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  #18  
Old 01-25-2014, 03:01 PM
invisihitch invisihitch is offline
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^ I'm not really sure whether this is your question, but here is how you would need to connect your 7-way round receptacle to the end of your vehicle's trailer-lights wiring harness:

Harness Output Wire:
Left Turn/Brake --------- Pin 5 on the 7-way
Right Turn/Brake -------- Pin 6
Tail & Marker Lights ----- Pin 3
Ground ----------------- Pin 1
+12v (20amp) ---------- Pin 4

An RF electric brake controller, which mounts on the trailer tongue instead of inside the vehicle, requires only the +12v power line (20amps) and it will look for its power on Pin 4 of the 7-way. If your wiring harness only provides the first four outputs, just run an additional line directly from the fuse box or from the battery stud to Pin 4 on the 7-way.

Borderline stunned that your trailer place wouldn't know this, so perhaps I misunderstood your question?

Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com

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Old 01-25-2014, 07:56 PM
Duvee1 Duvee1 is offline
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BMW uses a pripritory harnessing system that integrates it's cruise controll with the brake systrem and it's computer interface. You can'tsimplysplice into the brake light wireing.I'm asking if anyone knows where to purchase a harness that wil tie into the 7 way plug without messing up the brake system?
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  #20  
Old 01-25-2014, 08:21 PM
jadnashuanh jadnashuanh is offline
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Do you have the BMW towing package installed? That package comes with not only a harness, but an interface box. It detects that there is a trailer attached and activates all of the factory functionality.

The GT, which I have does not come prepped for towing, so there is no BMW approved option supported here. I Know the other X-series support towing, but not sure about the x-6.

It was my understanding that the x-series come prepped, and it is a simple plug-in for the harness, then the vehicle needs to be reprogrammed.

If the X-6 does not support towing in the USA, then you're in the same boat as the GT owners, and Right Connections does make one for that vehicle,http://www.rightconnections.co.uk/ca...lue=All&=Apply

Last edited by jadnashuanh; 01-25-2014 at 08:36 PM. Reason: re-read, and want an X-6 solution, not GT
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  #21  
Old 01-25-2014, 08:38 PM
invisihitch invisihitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duvee1 View Post
BMW uses a pripritory harnessing system that integrates it's cruise controll with the brake systrem and it's computer interface. You can'tsimplysplice into the brake light wireing.I'm asking if anyone knows where to purchase a harness that wil tie into the 7 way plug without messing up the brake system?
So you are in the F07 forum asking about a wiring harness for your E70, all the while referring to it as a "7 way hitch plug"? May the good Lord help you my friend.

It's your lucky day... you stumbled onto some decent people... google BMW Part # 71602156526

Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com
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  #22  
Old 01-26-2014, 07:29 AM
Rogue2258 Rogue2258 is offline
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Posts: 109
Mein Auto: 2010 550i GT, 2011 535i
Decent does not sufficiently describe our fellow GT'er Jad. Jad magnanimously shares his wealth of knowledge. His input makes me grateful to be a fellow GT'er. Cheers to an extraordinarily informative thread!
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  #23  
Old 01-26-2014, 10:12 AM
Fish23 Fish23 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 410
Mein Auto: BMW 535xi GT
I would like to echo Rouge's sentiments on what jad beings to our forum. While I have no need to tow anything at anytime, I am an engineer and enjoy the thorough technical details that he selflessly provides and a wide variety of F07 issues. Well done Jim!


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  #24  
Old 01-26-2014, 12:12 PM
Duvee1 Duvee1 is offline
Registered User
Location: FLORIDA
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2011 X5D
Thanks all very helpful I will check the options suggested here wish me luck and I will report my results.
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  #25  
Old 03-11-2014, 07:49 PM
db007 db007 is offline
5GT *****
Location: Florida
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 535i GT
New F07 owner here. Ordered the Invisihitch and Rightconnections harness early last week, then installed it last Sunday. Thanks to jadnashuanh for the very informative post, Jon from Rightconnections, and also Steve and Daryl from Invisihitch. Could not be happier with this setup.

db
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