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Old 02-27-2017, 06:53 PM
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X5 Servotronic Retrofit--Success!

First, I'd like to thank all the contributors to this fine forum. Utilized a wealth of useful information from others who were nice enough to post their experiences in owning an e53. It's made my ownership of a 2003 4.4i bearable, and almost cost effective!

Second a little history on this X5:
2003, 173K currently, purchased CPO with 46K in 2006. Valve cover gaskets, front timing cover gaskets done 75K, covered under CPO. After 100K self maintenance includes: Plugs and Coils, Water Pump, Alternator, belts, full cooling replacement (radiator, all hoses, and reservoir tank). Two full sets of front control arm bushings (one powerflex), full bilstein hd yellow set, cd player upgrade, full 4.6is body kit retrofit, 19" Style 63's--multiple sets of 19" rubber, and multiple sets of brake pads and rotors (running meyle rotors, and cool carbon pads--me likey. The list is long and distinguished, and proud to say all work was done by me. (More out of necessity, as I can't imagine what all the labor for the aforementioned work would have tallied.)

Which brings me to the current subject in the title bar--

My wife got into a fender bender recently and broke the left steering tie rod, (among other issues) and when I sourced parts for a new steering rack, the idea to replace the rack with a servotronic unit came to mind. I drove a 4.8is and loved the steering, and the addition of fatter rubber in the front made parking lots for my wife a minor ordeal (she absolutely loves the newer electronically assisted steering--Bleh!) Got the rack, with the servotronic servo, supported the engine (love harbor freight), lowered the front subframe, and installed the new rack. And then pushed off into to sea of abundant misinformation...

My X5 had the servotronic plug already sitting in the engine bay. It's a two wire female plug, sitting unused near the front of drivers side shock tower. If you are contemplating this upgrade, go check to see if your plug is waiting. Got the plug? good, we can share my upgrade experience. Don't got plug? Don't fret, still doable, just can't give first person experience on how to do it (will show you how later.) I cut the brittle plastic tie that held the bundled wire together and managed to plug it directly in to the servo on the rack with a positive "click". And like a giddy school child, (while patting myself on the back) started the car to see how easy it was NOT to upgrade my rack. Turned perfectly, and smoothly, but with full force needed to do so. There was clearly no signal to make the steering input variable.

Which leads us into the pit of despair...and coding with the X5.

I am computer savvy, and hardware savvy, and confident in connecting devices on a PC. And this was a royal pain in the ass. Let me stop you here. If you are not comfortable with any of the electronic side of the world, get your tools, install the rack, and then get your computer savvy, "already coded an X5" friend, and his (or her!) 12 pack and show them this post.

Don't have a friend? Proceed with caution:

Going to cut thru the misinformation and tell you how I got it done. More than one way, I'm sure, to do it, and looking forward to others' input.

1) You need to get a cable to connect. I bought this one for $23.99:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

**This will not work on an e53 X5, without bridging pins 7 and 8**. I drilled a small hole in the plastic case near pins 7 & 8, and soldered a solid wire from each of the terminals. Routed the wire thru the hole, reassembled the case, and connected to a switch that was hot glue gunned to the outside. Wha-Lah, a cable-switchable- INPA K+CAN K+DCAN-Car-Diagnostic-Tool-Cable, that you should have been to buy from somewhere, No? If you do this one step, you will save yourself hours (days for me) wonder why your X5's Ecu won't talk to your software. Which is now next.

You need Software on your Pc:

I got mine (bmw coding pack) from Bimmerforums. Here:

All BMWs Download Links to Softwares - Page 469 - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

Ask nicely. Might say Thanks.. Spin the Drum on the wall and say "I.I.I.I.I....Want the knife"

While your asking, ask for the link to the latest e53 datum update. Two downloads, Two different installation procedures. Know how, and be familiar with the procedure before you start. (Or buy an extra six pack for "already-coded-e53 with-ncs-expert-friend")

**Now is a good time to enter a disclaimer. The software your asking for is a very powerful tool, that can brick electronic modules on your X5, costing multiple hundreds to replace. Research outside this post, and go slow. Not responsible for bricking, proceed with caution, etc.**

Links will be sent, and they will be downloadable in .rar format, so you need a free unzipper: I used 7-zip available Here:

7zip

Install as per instructions within the coding pack. Try Inpa first, look for the two black dots when you open the program to make sure computer/software/ecu are having a proper threesome.

Now you have the tools to properly grenade the ecu's on the X5.

My original plan was to recode the zcs and add the $216A Servotronic code to the zcs, and recode both locations in the EWS and KMBI modules. Our e53 are bastard children in that the DO NOT utilize the newer FA system of car option coding, even though our production dates would make it seem so. A good explaination here:

https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/a...4&d=1377918669

I downloaded the ZCS Coder program from Here:

https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...92-ZCS-Decoder

and was going to reprogram both modules, when I found this:

http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...g-box-retrofit

Seems if you are prewired in the engine bay with the two pin servotronic connection, you don't need to reprogram the ZCS, just activate the servotronic option by checking the box from the GM3_E53.CO4 module using NCS expert. I used the NCS Dummy and followed the included video in the coding packet. ***Servotronic signal output is controlled by the ECU, independent of if the X5 was coded from the factory with the option!** The same link above details how to wire the servotronic if you don't have a High GM module, of which I have no first-hand experience in installing.

Recode per instructional video included in your coding packet, and success when starting the car--I have servotronic on my e53!

Lots of info here, and I relish in the fact I accomplished something that my indy-BMW shop (that I was prepared to pay dearly) said was impossible. Good Luck, and happy to contribute my experience with those who helped me so much over the years! Cheers!

Last edited by jayrockstar; 02-28-2017 at 11:27 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:30 PM
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Hrm I have a late 06, this would be a good retrofit if or when my rack ever goes bad. Will check the engine bay tonight for the plug.
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:39 AM
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where were you for the last ten years?
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:39 AM
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This is a great writeup! Coding the GM and other modules is super easy when using NCS Dummy (and as long as you get into the habit of changing job on NCS Expert to READ by default) -

Glad to hear besides the rack change, it was a success! If my rack ever goes I do have the plug in the engine bay so I would definitely do this -
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
where were you for the last ten years?
Lurking, trying to keep german cars on the road....

Quote:
Coding the GM and other modules is super easy when using NCS Dummy
Very True. Used the Dummy to program it, and edited the origional post to reflect it.

Quote:
If my rack ever goes I do have the plug in the engine bay so I would definitely do this
Highly recommend it. Only Slightly more expensive for a used unit, but you have to be very specific about making sure the servo is included, and part of the unit. A new servo is about $300 as I recall. Most yards I talked to didn't know the difference, which you can use to your advantage, if you can verify the unit with photos. The other way to make sure is to get a rack off of an 4.6is or 4.8is, as all racks were servotronic on these models.
Steering is very light when near zero MPH. Makes it substantially easier to maneuver a trailer, which is one of her primary tasks. It progressively gets less assisted, even by 15-20 MPH. Still get great steering feedback on highways and curves. Win win situation.
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:35 PM
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Checked in my engine bay today, looking and behold I have the plug time to find a servotronic rack!!!
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Old 06-20-2017, 02:34 PM
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Best Form ever

This is a great right up, I really love this form and can't thank you guys enough of how much it saved me.


I already got the rack with Servotronic and just waiting for the time to get it installed.

I just need to know as I have the pa soft software to check my x5 and it work great, and I do see that I can tick the servotronic option, I have the wire plug already near the strut tower, do you guys think just ticking and writing it would be enough to activate the force?

Thank you in advanced

Sam
Washington, Olympia
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:42 PM
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Installing the rack is the chore. It requires supporting the engine with an engine support that rests near the shock towers. I got mine at Harbor freight. Then lowering the front subframe enough to finagle the old steering rack out.
The reward is the instant addition of Servotronic steering with just one box click!
Let us know when you get installed. ��
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayrockstar View Post
Installing the rack is the chore. It requires supporting the engine with an engine support that rests near the shock towers. I got mine at Harbor freight. Then lowering the front subframe enough to finagle the old steering rack out.
The reward is the instant addition of Servotronic steering with just one box click!
Let us know when you get installed. ��
Thank you for your fast response, appreciate the tip, I saw one at Harbor Freight website for $69.99, I'll get it and work on it first week of July

glad to hear thats only ticking the option for servotronic

You are awesome!!! I'll keep you posted for sure.

Respectfully,
Sam
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:39 AM
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I'll start by saying OMG, its amazing feel of light and responsive like no other, Thanks jayrockstar for this amazing post, it help me getting it done fast and saved me the hassle or searching around for answers.

The job took 5 hours from start to finish with a friend help, I took the old rack and installed the used one, the car right now is out of alignment and the steering angle is not centered, I'll schedule an appointment with local shop to do it, I also tried to change the outer tie rod but it needed 24mm wrench that didn't have, I'll try to do the tie rod before taking it to the shop so its all good to go..... I have a code for steering angle problem which I assume its because of the alignment.

I'll keep you guys posted as soon I'm done with the alignment but in my own opinion its great accomplishment and thanks goes back to the great form and jayrockstar!

Thanks again and Happy fourth!

Respectfully,
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