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X5 E70 (2007 - 2013)
E70 BMW X5 produced between 2007 and 2013. Discuss the E70 X5 with other BMW owners here.

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  #1  
Old 07-12-2011, 08:01 AM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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2011 X5 - How to - Trailer hitch and lights installation

Finding information on the installation of trailer wires and trailer hitch for my new 2011 X5 35d has not been easy. Hopefully, this post will help others. This is my first post ever on such a forum so if I missed anything or you have questions, just email.
Some background. When I started calling around, most shops estimated the work at between 1100$ to1300$. A 4 hours job and some estimated up to 5 hours of labor. I can tell you now that 4 hrs. is not fiction. I ordered that parts on the web for 320.64$ delivered to my door.

All I had to do was install it. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard. It just took extra time finding my way around.

So here it goes:

What you will need:

The parts were ordered at: www.hitch-web.com
– Hidden Hitch #87455: 182$
– Tow Ready Modulite HD with integrated circuit & overload protection power module and installation kit #119191: 67.47$ (If you want to save money, don’t do it on this part. BMW does not do lights like everyone else. You will be using every part in this kit)
– Ball mount of your choice.


The trailer lights (20 minutes for a 4 pin trailer connection):

1. Unplug the left and right taillight. Compress the connector between your fingers and pull.
2. Face the connector and you will notice that it is numbered sequentially, left to right.
a. Left side (driver)
Pin # 3 is brake
Pin #5 is lights
Pin # 4 is flasher
b. Passenger side (you only need flasher on this side)
Pin # 3 is flasher.
3. Unplug the battery negative. This is not to protect the truck but rather the module from a short.
4. The modulite red cable goes to brakes, the maroon to lights. The rest is as per instructions of the module for flashers and power (Read them. You’ll need to fetch power from the battery and lucky us, it’s in the trunk)
5. I screwed the Modulite unit under the left taillight using the supplied metal screws.
6. When done, check your connections with a tester and don’t re-clip the taillights connectors. You will have to remove the taillights for the hitch.
7. That’s it; you are done for the trailer lights.

The hitch installation (4:30 minutes):

The instructions that came with the hitch were good for what thy contained. The problem was with the missing information. It does mention the location for two important bolts but neglects to mention the myriad of clips that hold the rear bumper in place. You will need to remove the rear bumper cover. It appears a daunting task but fear not. In addition to your toolbox of choice, you will also need a kitchen table knife (slim and rigid) and masking tape. The following instructions and pictures should save you a good hour from the above time.

1. Remove the taillights (3 nuts on each side) and place them where you will not scratch them.
2. Unclip the rear parking aid sensor connector if you have this option. The connector is located on the passenger side vertical bumper. You will see it when you crawl under.

3. Remove the 4 or 6 bolts under the bumper.

4. Remove the 2 reflectors. To remove them, you will need to pry it off from the tailgate side with a flat screwdriver covered with masking tape. Send the screwdriver in about a ¼ inch and pull towards the back. When you have enough space, send the screwdriver in further a pry it off and remove the bolt behind.

5. Remove the two upper plastic pop rivets from the inner fender. Replacements should be included with your hitch. Either drill them or knock the center out with a punch. I did the latter. Remove the broken rivets. Do this on both sides.

6. You now need to gently pull the black plastic trim to access a screw. You now need the kitchen knife covered with making tape to prevent scratching the paint. Start from the bottom and look for a plastic lock under the trim and push the center to pull the trim away. Do this for all clips until you can reach the screw. Remove the screw on each side of the truck.

7. Next, you will need to unclip the bumper from the taillight area. Using a flat screwdriver, gently push the bumper cover tab under black plastic. Do this one side at a time. Once done, pull on the bumper a bit. It will move some. You need it loose for the next part.

8. Look at the next two pictures. You need to locate the 3 plastic tabs that are holding the bumper cover in place. Start at the taillight area and pull the bumper towards you slowly working in direction of the wheel. You will see the first tab. Use the kitchen knife covered with making tape to push it down then do the next one until you have done the 3 on each side of the truck.

9. Remove the bumper cover. This is a two-man job. If you are alone as I was, place a blanket or something on the ground. You will likely drop it. It is that flexible.


10. Your truck should now look like this. Congratulation. Your neighbor now think you are crazy to dismantle your shiny new truck!

11. Get under the truck and remove the 8 bolts holding the steel bumper. Remove it and insert the hitch at the same location. Center the hitch, reinstall the steel bumper and the nuts. Torque to instructions of hitch. You will have to trim the black plastic bolt covers by the same thickness of the hitch plate to re-install them. Do it. The bolts will show under the tailgate.


12. You now need to trim the bumper cover to clear the hitch. Flip the bumper cover over a soft blanket. Care for the paint on the flip side ( cover the paint with masking tape). The instructions require you to remove a 2 x 8 inch from the cover centered at 4 inches. 2 inches wide was not enough. I had to remove 3 x 8. Be careful here if you opt for a 2 inch test. You will only find out it is too short once you have re-clipped the cover. You will have to remove it again to cut some more. I used a Dremel with a cutting disk to do the job.

13. Re-install everything in the reverse order.
14. You are now done.
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  #2  
Old 07-12-2011, 02:50 PM
997usa 997usa is offline
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Wow - great write up - seems like it was quite a bit of work!! thanks for all the pics.
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  #3  
Old 07-12-2011, 04:09 PM
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ahimanic ahimanic is offline
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Very nice work! Thanks for sharing
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  #4  
Old 07-13-2011, 12:20 AM
miamipanther miamipanther is offline
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PurPlazur, I am also installing the exact same hitch as yours, it's such helpful post and could solve my problem

I was in step 6 last time and couldn't figure out the way to get out the rear bumper, I didn't finish installation and had to put everything back and is planning to give a try again this weekend.

Your post did show what's holding rea bump to the car body, that's indeed very helpful.

Could you please take a picture of the cutting area of bumper cover under your car with the hitch installed? I am going to cut the bump cover, instead of cutting 3*8 shape of rectangle, is it ok to cut a little circle on the coner? that will make cutting job a little easier, a picture could help me get some idea.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 07-13-2011, 05:21 AM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Miamipanther,

Glad it is helpful for you. Here are a couple more pictures you requested. Not sure what you mean about cutting round but you will see that as is, it is a pretty tight fit.

Good luck with your project

TC
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  #6  
Old 07-13-2011, 06:52 AM
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kanar200 kanar200 is offline
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Thanks for sharing the description.

"most shops estimated the work at between 1100$ to1300$"

I had an impression that some people reported $500-$700 for the installation and coding at dealership…...?

Last edited by kanar200; 07-13-2011 at 06:54 AM.
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  #7  
Old 07-13-2011, 07:11 AM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanar200 View Post
Thanks for sharing the description.

"most shops estimated the work at between 1100$ to1300$"

I had an impression that some people reported $500-$700 for the installation and coding at dealership…...?
Surprisingly, my Dealer was the cheapest. The remark I got from the 3 other shops were "oh, we have to remove the bumper" so it's xxx$

Coding was not necessary. I also read that in some posts. I can only "assume" that it is because I have used a module that requires a connection to 12v.
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  #8  
Old 07-13-2011, 10:19 AM
miamipanther miamipanther is offline
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Modulite gets power from battery and signal from taillight directly, so no coding required.

The advantange of the combo of Hidden Hitch and Modulite is the low profile cutting and no coding required.

Most of dealer asked more than $1000 to install the OEM hitch. The parts itself is more than $500, it's hard to believe dealer will provide laber and coding for almost free.
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  #9  
Old 07-13-2011, 10:47 AM
miamipanther miamipanther is offline
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PurPlazur: Thanks for those two pictures, it looks very tight fit, I may cut the same as yours. From the pictures above, it's not clear how you hang on the 4 pole trailer connector.

What did you think this mounting bracket? can it be bolted to the bottom part of bumper directly?
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  #10  
Old 07-13-2011, 10:52 AM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamipanther View Post
PurPlazur: Thanks for those two pictures, it looks very tight fit, I may cut the same as yours. From the pictures above, it's not clear how you hang on the 4 pole trailer connector.

What did you think this mounting bracket? can it be bolted to the bottom part of bumper directly?
I kept it as a wire coming out of from the cargo area. I pass it under the tailgate when pulling. When not in use, I roll in and keep it in the bin next to the battery. I live in the snow belt. Any electrical connection next to the hitch would hang too low for my taste during the winter.
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  #11  
Old 07-14-2011, 02:39 PM
starponyash starponyash is offline
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I have a question......does anyone use receiver extender bars?
My little trailer is fine, but I feel like my enclosed trailer is way too close to my bumper????

Thanks for any help!
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  #12  
Old 07-14-2011, 04:31 PM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starponyash View Post
I have a question......does anyone use receiver extender bars?
My little trailer is fine, but I feel like my enclosed trailer is way too close to my bumper????

Thanks for any help!
How far is it now and how much more are you looking for?
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  #13  
Old 07-16-2011, 05:04 PM
997usa 997usa is offline
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Dean, stop promoting your own stuff
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  #14  
Old 07-28-2011, 08:43 PM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Great write-up!

I installed my own hitch on my '08 E70. It took time, but wasn't that hard. Worst part was cutting a big chunk out of the bumper.

- Mike
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  #15  
Old 12-23-2011, 11:55 AM
TitanM5 TitanM5 is offline
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Extremely helpful thread, especially the pix! We got rearended in our 2010 35d and the impact popped the bumper cover clips out at the top center. The jerk that hit took off and we have a $500 deductible so with this thread an hour and the price of the 4 rivets, I was able to put everything back the way it is supposed to be. Thanks!
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  #16  
Old 12-23-2011, 04:12 PM
blue dragon blue dragon is offline
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I purchased my OEM hitch from getbmwparts.com for less than $500. It came with the hitch module and harness. I installed it myself, and to I'd much rather have the OEM parts than an aftermarket hitch. The OEM hitch harness will allow the computer to check the trailer for burned out bulbs and turn off the rear PDC when the hitch wiring harness is plugged it. It will also give you an additional zoom mode on the camera (great for lining up the hitch when backing up), and DSC anti sway control.

Considering that the difference in price is so small, I'd much rather use the OEM components, especially since I am towing 6k lbs. Oh, I can also do the programming myself Good work installing your hitch though. I really applaud people who tackle projects like this on their own.
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Last edited by blue dragon; 12-23-2011 at 04:46 PM.
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  #17  
Old 01-12-2012, 05:06 PM
911Lurker 911Lurker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue dragon View Post
I purchased my OEM hitch from getbmwparts.com for less than $500. It came with the hitch module and harness. I installed it myself, and to I'd much rather have the OEM parts than an aftermarket hitch. The OEM hitch harness will allow the computer to check the trailer for burned out bulbs and turn off the rear PDC when the hitch wiring harness is plugged it. It will also give you an additional zoom mode on the camera (great for lining up the hitch when backing up), and DSC anti sway control.

Considering that the difference in price is so small, I'd much rather use the OEM components, especially since I am towing 6k lbs. Oh, I can also do the programming myself Good work installing your hitch though. I really applaud people who tackle projects like this on their own.
Cross-Post: can someone with the tow package and ECU flash post up your options and a screen shot regarding the zoom function? I' not seeing it on mine.

-td
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  #18  
Old 01-12-2012, 07:17 PM
blue dragon blue dragon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 911Lurker View Post
Cross-Post: can someone with the tow package and ECU flash post up your options and a screen shot regarding the zoom function? I' not seeing it on mine.

-td
Hit the PDC button to turn on your rear camera, one of the camera options is zoom. The rear PDC will get turned off once the trailer harness is plugged in. You must have the car reprogrammed by the dealer (or by someone with the ability to do it) for you to have those options after you install the trailer module (which comes with the harness).
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:30 PM
911Lurker 911Lurker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue dragon View Post
Hit the PDC button to turn on your rear camera, one of the camera options is zoom. The rear PDC will get turned off once the trailer harness is plugged in. You must have the car reprogrammed by the dealer (or by someone with the ability to do it) for you to have those options after you install the trailer module (which comes with the harness).
Don't think I have a zoom feature right now. Does it work all the time with the hitch package installed? Or just when you have a ball attached?

Also, can you snap a shot of the screen so I can show the folks at the dealership? Sounds helpful.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:36 PM
blue dragon blue dragon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 911Lurker View Post
Don't think I have a zoom feature right now. Does it work all the time with the hitch package installed? Or just when you have a ball attached?

Also, can you snap a shot of the screen so I can show the folks at the dealership? Sounds helpful.
It works all the time, no need to have the trailer harness hooked up. You just select it, and the camera zooms. It also gives you a green line thats great for lining up the ball to the trailer coupler. I'll PM you a picture in the morning.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:43 PM
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Much appreciated. I'll PM my email as well.

Cheers,

-td
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  #22  
Old 03-16-2012, 06:14 PM
rs0xn rs0xn is online now
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Fantastic Post PurPlazur!!!
I just got a 2011 X5 3.5d three weeks ago and I need to install a trailer hitch. I have spent the last week researching what I should buy, how to install it, and if the dealer would need to re-code anything. This forum is better than the others, I couldn't find what I was looking for. Thank so much for documenting this, you really have helped a lot of us. I have some additional questions if you don't mind.

1.) Did you consider purchasing other brands of hitches? Why did you go with the Hidden Hitch?
The other two I've been looking at was the CURT Hitch #13077, Draw Tite Trailer Hitch #75600. The Curt hitch looks like there might be less bumper trimmer required because of the shape of the weld on the receiver, but I have read that the tow hooks would no longer be accessible with this model.

2.) If I understand this right, you used a 12v module connection to the battery, so no coding was needed. Have you had any issues with your rear camera, sensors, electronic system or wiring? and your tow hooks are accessible?

3.) How has the powder coat on your hitch held up? Any issues with rust or corrosion?

4.) If you did this again, would you do anything differently?

THX
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Last edited by rs0xn; 03-16-2012 at 06:43 PM.
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  #23  
Old 03-16-2012, 06:44 PM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Hi, reply below your questions ...

1.) Did you consider purchasing other brands of hitches? Why did you go with the Hidden Hitch?
The other two I've been looking at was the CURT Hitch #13077, Draw Tite Trailer Hitch #75600. The Curt hitch looks like there might be less bumper trimmer required because of the shape of the weld on the receiver, but I have read that the tow hooks would no longer be accessible with this model.

- I had seen on another X5 that the Hidden Hitch cutout for the bumper does not show. I liked that and did not want to risk another brand.

2.) If I understand this right, you used a 12v module connection to the battery, so no coding was needed. Have you had any issues with your rear camera, sensors, electronic system or wiring? and your tow hooks are accessible?

- The parking assist does beep when you back-up with the trailer. Small detail for me. I turn down the sound level with the iDrive controller.

3.) How has the powder coat on your hitch held up? Any issues with rust or corrosion?

- So far, 1 winter under it's belt and no rust.

4.) If you did this again, would you do anything differently?

- Yes. My vehicles have always been white or black. I'd get a black one instead of gray !

Have fun and take your time. It's an easy install.


TC
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  #24  
Old 05-08-2012, 02:19 PM
sredhar sredhar is offline
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Mein Auto: 2012 X5D
Thanks PurPlazr for this post. I am installing a hitch on my 2012 x5 and it helped me quite a bit.

I have a couple of questions regarding step 7 and step 8.

Step 7 - I wasn't able to locate the bumper cover tab. Are you talking about a small tab which is accessible from the area after tail lights were removed? I was able to get that small tab off but I am wondering it I am missing something.

Step 8 - I am trying to push the tab using a kitchen knife and the space is very tight. I also am hearing some snapping sounds when I push the knife. Is that normal? I am not sure if I missed something in step 7 and that's the reason bumper is so tight.

Thanks for your help.
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  #25  
Old 05-08-2012, 04:38 PM
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PurPlazur PurPlazur is offline
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Location: Montreal
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 111
Mein Auto: 2011 X5 3.5d
Quote:
Originally Posted by sredhar View Post
Thanks PurPlazr for this post. I am installing a hitch on my 2012 x5 and it helped me quite a bit.

I have a couple of questions regarding step 7 and step 8.

Step 7 - I wasn't able to locate the bumper cover tab. Are you talking about a small tab which is accessible from the area after tail lights were removed? I was able to get that small tab off but I am wondering it I am missing something.

Step 8 - I am trying to push the tab using a kitchen knife and the space is very tight. I also am hearing some snapping sounds when I push the knife. Is that normal? I am not sure if I missed something in step 7 and that's the reason bumper is so tight.

Thanks for your help.
step 7: Yes. The tabs under the taillight. Push the tab down then pull the bumper towards the back so the tab don't re-clip themselves.

step 8: Start with the rear pin first them move forward towards the wheel. Once you push the tab, keep the side of the bumper away from the truck a bit so it does not re-clip.

Hope this helps!
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