Various BMW models have been fitted with navigation computers (NAV) over the years. The capabilities of the computers have improved from generation to generation, while still maintaining compatibility with the maps.
|MKI||12/1995-8/1997||CD||?||Siemens/VDO OEM. Used a Magnetic Field Sensor and both front wheel speed inputs for dead recogning. Mk1 is the only one that had a Video Module connected to the NAV computer via ARCNET 2Mb/s transfer speed. MK1 also is the only one that must be calibrated manually, which is a pain. CD BASED. GT1/DISPLUS available for diagnosis.|
|MKII||9/1997-8/2000||CD||E39, E38, E53, E52||Removed Video Module/ARCNET. Still CD Based but Self calibrating. Uses front left wheel speed input(or left rear speed signal for E46) and a Gyro Sensor for dead reckoning. Cannot use GT1/DISPLUS for diagnosis, must use service mode on Board Monitor|
|MKIII||9/2000-8/2002||CD||E46, E39, E38, E53, E52, E60, E63, E65, Mini, Range Rover||DVD Based. Uses front left wheel speed input(or left rear speed signal for E46) and a Gyro Sensor for dead reckoning. Now GPS receiver and part of NAV Unit. MK1 and MK2 are separate from the NAV Unit. GT1/DISPLUS used for diagnosis.|
|MKIV||2002-2006||DVD||E46, E53, E61, E63, E64, E66, E70, E83,
E85, E90, E91, E92, E93, Mini, Range Rover
|16x9 widescreen display introduced in 2002 (with a cassette behind it) Custom POI can be added.|
|CCC||2007||DVD||E87||CCC stands for Car Communication Computer and uses a larger 8.8" wide-screen display.|
|CIC||2009||Harddrive||All models||New OEM supplier; no longer compatible with Siemens/VDO.
CIC stands for Car Infotainment Computer and is a major update to iDrive with a new higher resolution display, computer and the controller. Internet access is also supported.
Navigation can be retrofitted into a vehicle that did not ship with it. The parts are US$1200-2500, depending on where you source them. Installation takes 8-10 hours, and is slightly easier if the vehicle already has TV functionality. Instructions can be found here: OEM Navigation retrofit guide
Upgrading from an earlier generation computer to MKIV involves a straightforward swap of the CD unit for a DVD-based one. The replacement computer may take some time before it starts working, due to the requirement to download almanac information from one of the GPS satellites before it can provide a fix.
How do I remove the accept screen?
With V27 and later firmware, the accept screen on USA and Australian coded navigation systems disappears after 8 seconds. If you want to get rid of it completely, you can downgrade-then-upgrade your firmware. This will put your NAV into default/UK mode. Alternatively, use Navcoder (see below) to select another region such as Europe.
Firmware (software) upgrades fix bugs and add new features to the navigation system. Updates for the Siemens/VDO based systems are straightforward, however newer harddrive based systems can only be updated by a dealer.
Firmware update CDs for MKI-MKIV always include the last published updates for previous generations of the navigation system. For example, all firmware update CDs from v22 onwards contain the last update for the MKIII system, while only v32 contains the most recent update for the MKIV system. NB: The version of the firmware update CD itself is different to the version of the navigation system firmware that it installs.
The MKIV system had several significant features added after its release. The most notable update for MKIV was a test edition of V26 (version 26) of the firmware CD that added a more attractive, although less-detailed perspective (bird's eye) mode. Perspective functionality was officially added with V27, which will be the minimum version you want to use. With this version, the "Accept" screen also disappears after 8 seconds.
Development of all the Siemens/VDO-based MKIV system has ceased as the units no longer ship in any new vehicles.
Where can I download the latest firmware?
Firmware disks for MKI to MKIV navigation units are freely available on the internet, however many of these have been "hacked" to change various features from the splash screen to colors, sounds, languages, fonts and other attributes. You run the risk of damaging your computer if you use a modified firmware disk.  offers unmodified downloads for MKII to MKIV NAV firmwares.
The v32 update CD contains the most recent firmware for the MKIV NAV (4-1/100).
How can I tell what firmware I'm using now?
Please see Xoutpost.com's great thread for this information.
Go to the main menu. From there, click on the "SET" or "SETTINGS" selection. The type of your nav computer and OS will appear on the upper right corner of the screen.
The first digit tells you which version of the nav computer you have, and the last two digits tell you the OS version.
If the first digit is a "3," you have a MKIII computer. If you have a MKIII, then the newest OS version is 3-1/63.
If the first digit is a "4," you have a MK4 computer. If you have a MK4, then the newest OS version is 4-1/00.
How do I update my firmware?
Update the firmware by burning the firmware image you've downloaded to a blank CD-R disc (no other type of blank media will work, even in a MKIV DVD computer). To do this, you can not simply put the downloaded file on a data CD, you must use an application that burns the applicable image format's contents to a disc. ImageBurn is a free application that will burn most image formats. Burn it to a good quality disc at a slow speed (4X or slower) and then place it in the NAV system with the car on. You'll see a blank screen for a minute or two followed by an update screen. It'll tell you when it's done. There is a risk of this update not working and your Nav being left in a "broken" state, especially if you use a cheap blank CD. Go the the navigation forum on www.x5world.com for advice in recovering from this situation.
Older MKIII systems can be more difficult to upgrade, as BMW used a copy-protection mechanism in early versions of the MKIII software. Visit www.x5world.com to find out how to upgrade one of these systems, which requires a "key" CD in addition to the update CD.
I upgraded to V26 or newer. How do I enable perspective mode?
- Push the "MENU" button to get to the the main menu.
- Scroll to the "SETTINGS" menu selection and click the knob to select it.
- Push and hold the "MENU" button for about 8 seconds to enter the GPS Service Menu.
- Scroll beyond the bottom to a 2nd page, where you will get the Perspective option.
- Click the knob on the Perspective option to select it. - Now you will be able to select Perspective within the navigation map view.
There are many unofficial firmware hacks available, including changing text and customizing the startup screen. Please see X5world's navigation forum for more information: http://www.x5world.com/navigation-system/
Kris Linquist authors a hacked v29.1 MKIV Navigation firmware that features a few new graphics and different menu text. It's available for download here.
Nightmode; Is an Hack to the main Navboot file and is a re-colour of the 2nd colour scheme and can be found here
Audio Alerts for speed cameras; Is a Hack to the main Navboot file and must be done on the OS as well as the Map disc image, and can be found here
There are three map formats in use by BMW navigation systems (HIGH and PROFESSIONAL), and their media are NOT interchangeable.
|Business (High)||CD/DVD||E46,E53, E83, Mini, Range Rover||Fully compatible with VDO-Dayton Carin maps used by various manufacturers|
|Professional||CD/DVD||E46,E53, E60, E63, E90||Very similar to High maps, but typically contain more POI information and are encoded slightly differently to make them incompatible.|
|Business||DVD||E87||New format, released April 2007|
The latest map disc for Europe and North America is 2008-2. Other regions might use a different version number (e.g. v14 is the latest version in Australia). In some regions, the amount of new information has resulted in the 2008-2 map being switched from Single Layer DVD (4.3GB) to Dual Layer DVD media (8GB), and requiring firmware update CD v32 to be applied to the navigation computer for it to read the new high capacity media.
Official map updates are available from BMW dealers, NavTeq (www.navteq.com) and TeleAtlas (www.teleatlas.com). Since non-professional or "HIGH" maps are compatible with the VDO-Dayton "Carin" format, these maps can also be purchased from other vendors that use this format, although they will not have any BMW-specific point of interest information on them.
BMW are currently offering a trade-in deal in certain regions: If customers bring in their old map, they can buy the latest map at a substantial discount.
Navcoder is a shareware software utility available via the X5World navigation forum allows the navigation computer to be re-coded in vehicles that use the I-BUS communication system. A hardware adapter is needed to interface a personal computer's COM port or USB interface with the vehicle's I-BUS.
Speed cameras and Custom POI
Tools are now available to add custom GPS points of interest such as the locations of speed cameras to the MKIV navigation map. The cameras can then be displayed as icons on the navigation map while driving. Due to limitations with the navigation computer however, it's not possible to configure an audible alert. See http://www.pimp-my-nav.com for more information.
It is now possible to patch the firmaware to process sound alerts. We must also make a change to the database's poi ... and can be found here