BMW E8x E9x Cruise Control Retrofit - Cruise in Style!

BMW E8x E9x Cruise Control Retrofit - Cruise in Style!

Ever jumped into your BMW E82, E84 or E90 and thought, “Man, I wish I had cruise control?” Well, folks, today’s your lucky day! This guide will take you on a cruise-y journey to retrofitting your beloved Beemer. We’ll tackle:

  • Switching out the SZL module.
  • The coding voodoo magic.
  • Steering angle sensor calibrations.
  • ...And all the juicy details in between.

Grab a coffee, buckle up, and let’s ride!

Cruise Control 101

Cruise control on E9x and E8x isn’t just a mod; it’s a lifestyle upgrade. While some models are like a walk in the park, others will test your mechanic ninja skills. This little chat? We’re focused on the basic cruise control (option code 540). For the uninitiated, here’s a quick model breakdown:

  • BMW 1-Series (E81 to E88)
  • BMW 3-Series (E90 to E93)
  • BMW X1 (E84)

Guess how long it’ll take? If you said "as long as watching a sitcom episode" - bingo! About 20 minutes, if the stars align and your car’s in tip-top shape. Though, after my bazillionth retrofit, I've got it down to just 10 minutes - and that's with the test drive!

Cruise Control: Choose Your Fighter

  • Option 540 – Simple Cruise Control: Think of this as “set it and forget it.” Except when you’re going downhill – you’ll slow down courtesy of engine drag torque.
  • Option 544 – The One With Brake Function: This one's got your back, and brakes. If the engine can't slow you down, the DCS control module jumps in to help.
  • Option 541 – Active Cruise Control: Your BMW's got eyes! It'll slow down if there's a car ahead. Perfect for those long, traffic-filled drives.

Cylinders Matter!

4-cylinders? Your retrofit’s all about switching up the steering column stuff. If you’re rolling in a 6-cylinder E90, things are a tad different. These usually come with cruise control, but if you lucked out, you can opt for the brake function or the active cruise control.

Fun fact: E90s up to 09/2006 had a special LDM unit to manage cruise control. Post that? The DSC control unit took over.

Let's Retrofit!

Get ready to switch out the SZL and lower steering column trim. Once that’s done, we’ll dive into the coding realm, calibrate the steering angle sensor, and do some error memory spring cleaning.

You’ll Need:

  • Steering Column Switch Cluster (Watch out for that rear wiper!)
  • Steering Column Lower Trim Section

Tool Time:

  • 10mm wrench (battery)
  • 16mm socket & ratchet (steering wheel)
  • Torx T25 screwdriver (SZL module)
  • A wee flat screwdriver

The Retrofit Ritual

  1. Steering Wheel Removal: Disconnect the battery, pop out the driver’s airbag (carefully!), and get those plug connections out.
  2. SZL Replacement: Adjust the steering column, unclip the trim, and swap out the SZL. Four screws and you're golden!

Coding Magic

Time to tell your BMW how to play nice with its new cruise control. Whether you're a fan of ISTA, various coding apps, or NCS Expert (my personal fave), get ready to code!

NCS Expert screenshot

  • Add the $540 code to your vehicle FA.
  • Code KOMBI and DSC. Fun fact: SZL can't be coded, but DSC will pass on the message.

Steering Wheel Sensor Calibration:
Occasionally, you might not need this step. But chances are, you will. Using ISTA or Tool32 (my go-to), you'll get this done in a jiffy.

Finish it off by clearing any error memories with INPA.

Here's the full guide to steering angle sensor calibration:

BIMMERIST - Private Site Access

Finishing Touches

Snap the airbag unit back, make sure all plugs are connected, and voila! You're ready for a spin.

Cruise Control Crash Course

The cruise control lever's on the left of the steering column. Here's the quick and dirty on how it works:

  • Activate: Press the lever to the side.
  • Set Speed: Briefly press the lever backward.
  • Increase Speed: Hold the lever backward.
  • Decrease Speed: Briefly or hold the lever forward.
  • Deactivate: Press the lever up or down.

And remember, there are some conditions for activating and deactivating, so make sure you're in the know!

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to making your BMW cruise in style. Until next time, drive safe and retrofit responsibly! 🚗💨