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Old 04-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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BMW X5 E53 DIY OEM Hitch Installation Notes and factory installation PDF

I recently installed the OEM BMW hitch on my 2005 E53 4.4i. I thought I’d jot down some linear and easy to follow notes to help others. As the BMW instructions were scattered and at times confusing, I thought I’d make my own guide. Hope this helps others in tackling this project (not to mention saving on a $600-700 installation fee).

The OEM BMW hitch kit (Class III, 2” receiver) is of great quality and will allow you to tow up to 6,000 pounds. Completely plug and play. I’m only using it as a tow hitch for my mountain and road bike, but the OEM kit comes with a plug-and-play trailer ECU (no wire splicing) to control brakes lights and provide power, should the need arise in the future. It also comes with a 7pin to 4 pin outlet, should you need it. Although it was a fully equipped kit (all hardware and wiring included)—mine didn’t come with a set of instructions. I had to coax the dealer who sold me the hitch kit to get me the PDF (see attachment). I’m relatively mechanically experienced and it took me a good 5 hours (due to scattered instructions from the BMW source and previous Xoutpost article and my delay in getting instructions emailed from the dealer).

I considered other hitches (non-OEM), but they either had a weird bar down the middle of bumper, required drilling into the frame, had reduced tow rating, or didn’t come with a wiring harness and controller (most didn’t come with a harness). For the price ($415) from Bloomfield BMW (other sources are probably similar), it was an easy decision to go with OEM.

As a general user guide, this info is pretty good:

http://www.xoutpost.com/articles/x5/miscellaneous-x5/9487-bmw-x5-hitch-installation-tips.html

The attached BMW E53 hitch installation PDF will help as well.

Tow hitch (BMW Part Number): 71 60 0 009 711

Installation is pretty straightforward, so long as you have the following tools:
  • Sockets: deep 8mm, deep 10mm, shallow and deep 13mm, and shallow and deep 16 mm sockets, including 3” and 6” extensions. If you have a kit that has ¼” and 3/8” that would be ideal.
  • Phillips screwdriver, Flat head screwdriver
  • Trim removal kit (for a surprisingly good quality, inexpensive kit get them from Harbor Freight Tools (4 Piece Nylon Pry Bar Installer Kit) About $6.
  • Two sturdy boxes (or equivalent to hold up the mufflers; I used a case of Jose Cuervo) to hold them up—works great)
  • Torx sockets: 45mm, 55mm
  • Not required, but recommended: torque wrench (set it for 50 ft-lbs equivalent to 65 N-m for the mounting bolts)
As an FYI, the only extra help I needed was to mount the heavy tow bar and to align the rear bumper.

Part 1. Prepare the rear interior cabin. Take out the 2 side carpeted rear access panels. Remove the rear floor by lifting it up and pulling the rear floor cover towards you. Tilt it sideways to remove the cover and put it aside. Remove the spare tire by twisting and loosening the center lock—put it aside. Just to the left and right of the spare tire (nearest you), there are 2 plastic floor panels(at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock to the spare tire location) held by plastic nuts—remove the nuts (2 per panel) using your 10mm deep sockets. Once the nuts are out, just lift the 2 panels and set them aside. Next, remove the vertical plastic panel at where the spare tire touches at 6 o’clock—you’ll see 4 plastic trim pieces (use the trim removal tool by getting the middle button to coax upwards—once it comes up the inner sleeve can then be removed). Once all 4 trim pieces are removed, the vertical panel can be set aside. At the 5 o’clock position, there is a triangular trim pieces that needs to be removed—just use your 10mm deep socket to remove 2 plastic nuts and lift out the triangular trim piece.

Part 2. Remove the rear bumper. There only a total of 4 screws and 2 bolts to remove the rear bumper (2 screws in each wheel well (4), and 2 long 55mm torx bolts). Remove the 2 screws attaching the rear bumper in the rear wheel well. They can be found by looking at the rear wheel, then look directly at the wheel well cover that touches the bumper. They are hold by 8mm screws—again 2 screws per side. Next, to get to the last 2 bolts (55mm torx), you need to remove your exhaust fascia trim from the bumper—just start at the top of the trim and pull it towards you—it will come out. At the top of the exposed exhaust openings, you’ll see two partial circle indents—from there, look about 2” directly towards the sky and you’ll see the 55mm Torx heads. On my car, it was a tight fit, but using my 3” extensions and pulling the bumper and/or pulling my exhaust tips aside (I have a 4.4i), you should be able to unscrew the Torx screws. Repeat for the other side. The bottom of the bumper cover diffuser is connected to the body by some tabs—just loosing the tabs by hand and it will release.

Tip: if you find that access to the Torx screws is very limited, you CAN trim the circular indents a little—but make sure you don’t trim too much off, so the plastic fascia can still cover up the enlarged hole. Now you can gently wiggle the whole bumper by pulling it directly towards you (away from the car, directly back). Be careful the rear bumper is relatively heavy with the original carrier!

Note: if you have PDC (parking sensors), as you pull the bumper back a little bit (don’t remove the bumper fully just yet), you’ll see the wire bundle going into the unibody. Pull the wire to a side at the sealing grommet and detach the grommet from the unibody. The PDC wire bundle should now loosely hanging. Pull the PDC wire back and forth, and you should see where it connects in the back right access panel in the trunk. Detach the connector from the harness (at the harness, push the tab so that it releases the plastic arm so it swings 90 degrees, which will then self push the connector to release itself). Guide the PDC harness and wire so that it exits out of the unibody hole. Once you do that you can now fully pull the bumper backwards, and the whole bumper comes right out. Set the bumper on some carpeting or on the grass on your lawn so it does not get scratched up.

Part 3. Replace the metal bumper carrier on the bumper with a redesigned metal carrier. The original metal bumper carrier (it gives the plastic bumper cover strength and shape) must be replaced to use with the hitch with a lighter version. To remove the original metal carrier, you will have to remove about 16-20 plastic trim pieces (use the trim removal tool by getting the middle button to coax upwards—once it comes up the inner sleeve can then be removed). One plastic trim piece holds the curved tailgate cover (one per side)—don’t take those out until you replace the metal carrier (easier to leave it on so you don’t get confused where it goes on the new carrier). If you have PDC, remove the harness from the sensors by pushing a tab in and pulling the connector from the sensor—there’s 4 of them. Also, there’s about 4 plastic tabs that are holding the harness to the metal carrier—use your trim removal tool to get these out.

Tip: some plastic trim pieces due to access, you will need to use a flat head screwdriver to put the middle button pole upwards from the bottom of the trim piece. Once the button pole moves a bit, then you can use the trim removal tools to get the pieces out easier (I sometimes used 2 trim removal tools in conjunction to get better leverage).

With all trim pieces removed (except for the 2 hold the curved tailgate pieces), pull out the old metal carrier from the bumper cover. The new metal carrier is shaped like the old one but light—use the screw holes as a guide and put in the bumper cover. Now remove the plastic trim pieces holding the curved tailgate guard on the old carrier and place it in the corresponding holes on the new carrier. Now you may put all of the plastic trim pieces in the corresponding holes and push the center button down so the pole locks the trim pieces in place. Reconnect the PDC sensors (make sure the connectors snap tightly in sensors. Snap the PDC wire bundle plastic tabs into appropriate holes in the metal carrier (these will keep the wires out of harms way (from the mufflers, for instance)—if you break a tab, just use some duct tape.

Part 4. Remove bumper impact absorbers. At this point, at the rear of the car looks like 2 cylinders sticking out with a hollow metal tube point vertically—these are impact shock absorbers. These need to be removed with 16mm sockets. They are removed by taking out 3 nuts via trunk access (per side). You may have to cut some of the plastic ties to get the wire bundles away and give you access. The top nut is easy to identify, but the other 2 are in a recess and patience is the key to get these out. Once you take out the 3 nuts, you may proceed to take out the impact absorbers by pulling it towards you. Repeat for the other side.

Part 5. Remove the old bumper mount bracket bar. Directly under the impact bumpers is a long beam that goes from one impact bumper to the other. There are about 10 Torx screws (45mm, I believe) that hold this to the unibody—remove them (you can easily see them from the rear of the car). You may remove all the screws, but leave 2 Torx screws in to hold this piece up. At the direct middle of the bumper mount bar if you look beneath it, you’ll find 2 bolts (they are either 13 or 16mm—can’t remember), that hold the underside of the bumper mount bracket bar—remove them. Now you may remove the 2 remaining Torx screws and the whole bumper mount bar can be removed.

Part 6. Lower the mufflers and heat shield. Factory instructions call for removal of the mufflers—you can do by just lowering the mufflers. Each muffler is held by 2 rubber hangers—the hangers are held by 13mm nuts (2 in the front rubber hanger, and 3 in the rear hanger (the 3rd nut holds a grounding wire). You must use a deep socket. BEFORE you remove all muffler nuts, put a sturdy box (or equivalent—I used a case of Jose Cervo) under the muffler so that it is supported doesn’t drop to the floor. You want it to drop a couple of inches to give you access to the heatshield (I placed the case of Jose Cuervo near the front of the muffler). Once the muffler drops, you need to drop the heat shields. The heat shields are held by 10mm screws (2 of them) that are towards the midline of the car, and 10 mm nuts (2 of them) that are towards the outer parts of the car—very easily visible. Drop the heat shield (and remove them, if you want by pulling towards the back of the car). You can see 3 rubber grommets in the area where the heat shield used to be. Remove only the 2 grommets closest to the rear of the car (repeat for the other side)—mounting bolts are going in these holes.

Part 7. Install the bumper supports. Each bumper support is either marked LH (left side) or RH (right side). Put the LH in the left hole where the old bumper impact absorber was. From under the car (where you removed the heat shield), put M10x85mm bolt and washer (closest to the rear of the car) and a M10x30mm bolt and washer (the hole towards the front of the car)—just hand tighten these. From the trunk, along the path of the bumper support, you will see 2 weathersealed bolt holes—use a screwdriver or small blade to cut out the black rubberized weatherstripping to expose these holes. Put in a M10x30mm bolt and washer into these 2 holes—hand tighten. Repeat for the right side using the RH bumper support (exhaust heatshield side and trunk access side). Again, only hand tighten.

Part 8. Install the tow wiring harness. Mount the round tow connector to the metal hold plate with the 4 screws (the installation metal lip should be at the top, with the round connect at the bottom). Next, looking at the direct middle lower tailgate and going about 3 inches down to the rear unibody, you should see a large rubber cover (about 2” in diameter). Pop out the rubber cover. Needle the tow harness end connector through the exposed unibody hole and into the trunk. Make sure the rubber grommet at the middle of the wire bundle seals properly to the unibody—you may have to wiggle it a bit. At about 4 oclock to the spare tire, you’ll see a car harness that is the same size as the tow harness. On the car harness, remove the dummy end connector. Once you do that, you can connect the tow harness to the car harness. You will have to remove a couple of cable ties to secure to the town harness to the other wire bundles.

Part 9. Install the tow bar (heavy!). You will need someone to help with this. On each side of the tow bar are 4 bolt holes (these all use the supplied nuts to secure). The first one is on top at 12, the second at 6+/-1 oclock (either 5 or 7 oclock, depending on which side you are working on), one at 3 oclock and one at 9 oclock. Have someone lift up the heavy tow bar while you try to position it and get the 12 oclock bolts (M10x50mm) started by hand. Once you get the 12 oclock bolts and nuts on both sides (trunk access), repeat for the “6” oclock bolts (M10x50mm) and nuts (exposed heatshield access) to tighten by hand. Once you do that you shouldn’t need help until bumper alignment. For the 3 and 9 oclock holes, you will need to first put bolts (M10x130mm) into the bumper brackets (they look like flat plates with vertical metal tubes in them—kind of like the impact absorbers—MAKE SURE THE LONG PORTION OF THE VERTICAL TUBES ARE POINTING VERTICAL! (or you will have trouble reinstalling the bumper cover Torx screws), then put them onto the tow bar (and secure by hand, the nuts via trunk access). Install the rear hitch electrical connector to the hitch by using the 2 supplied screws (the hanging electrical connector metal plate should be mounted behind the hitch lip—secure with the 2 screws).

Part 10. Tighten the tow bar nuts. On the left side, tighten the rearward facing 12 oclock and “6” oclock nuts using a torque wrench to 50 ft lbs—repeat for both sides. Next, tighten the bumper support bolts (2 lowers on the heatshield and 2 uppers via trunk access)—repeat for the right side. Same torque setting for all. For the 3 and 9 oclock bolts, push the bumper brackets up as high as they will go (this will eventually position your bumper to minimize the gap to the body) and tighten the nuts from the trunk—you will need help here. NOTE 1: MAKE SURE THAT THE VERTICAL METAL TUBE POINTS VERTICALLY OR YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SECURE YOUR BUMPER WITH THE 55M TORX DURING REASSEMBLY. Note 2: if the bumper ends up fitting too tight (the 3 and 9 oclock bolts are what will guide to with bumper gap).

Part 11. Replace the rear bumper. The bumper, in addition to the 4 screws and 2 bolts) is positioned by the side mouting guide tabs (2 per side, and upper and lower on the side of the car) and also the bumper brackets (these are responsible for the vertical position (see part 10). This step can be time consuming depending on where your bumper brackets are positioned. With help, lower the tailgate (to allow for the tailgate curved protect to get clearance), position the bumper sides so you can feed it on the side mounting side tabs (upper and lower), once both sides are positioned, push the rear bumper forward. Once you do that, the cover is back in place—check the gap between the rear bumper and the body. If you need to adjust the gap, remove the rear bumper cover and again, partially loosen the 3 and 9 oclock bolts to the bumper brackets (the thing with the vertical tubes, and reposition the bumper bracket (either raise or lower it) and tighten. Once you are happy with the bumper positioning, tighten the 3 and 9 oclock bolts to the bumper bracket.

Note: if you have PDC, don’t forget to thread the harness through the unibody hole first before installing the rear bumper cover. And make sure the harness grommet is sealing properly. Once you install the rear bumper cover, reattach the PDC connector back to the original harness (make sure the swing arm is unlocked, put the 2 ends together and swing the arm 90 degrees to autoconnect and latch).

Next, reinstall the 2 rear wheel well screws on each side. Lastly, reinstall the two 55mm Torx bolts. Note: if your bumper bracket vertical tubes are not perfect vertical, you will have a hard time reinstalling the 55mm Torx bolts (as they act as a guide for the Torx bolt to the screw hole—reposition the bumper brackets as needed).

Install the tow hitch rubber cap (it goes in 1 way, if you look at the back of it, the enlarged drain recesses are on the bottom).

Part 12. Install the trailer module (follow the PDF for ease). The trailer module only activates when you hook up a trailer to it. It supplies power and brake lights function to the trailer, and shuts off the rear PDC. If you have a separate electronic brake system, you should install this now as well (a different set of instructions and addition cost, which I do not have information on). Nonetheless, for the trailer module, you will need to remove in the trunk the following as you get deeper in the trunk: the air compressor dome (four 10mm bolts, then lift the dome up and away from the battery—do not detach anything), crossbar brackets (just underneath the dome—some designs differ—but usually 4 bolts and/or nuts; lift out the brackets), plastic BMW cover (3 Phillips screws), plastic carrier plate (4 screws). Lift up the plastic carrier plate and directly facing you is an empty harness and open spot on the carrier—that’s where the trailer module will go and hook up to. To hookup the module, the harness is tricky. If you look at it closely, the harness has a U shaped cover on it. It is held at the every ends of the “U” by a tab (on one each side). Push the tabs in, and you can slide the cover out to the side. It’s somewhat confusing, but you will get it. Worst case, you can break the small tab (about 2x3mm), so you can slide the U cover sideways and out. Once the cover slides out you can start to put the module on the harness a little, then put the U cover on the module and push it in sideways (on the module are tabs which will fit in with the U cover slide guides), which will slide the module further in and lock it. Snap the module onto the plastic carrier.

Put everything back in Part 12 in reverse. Put in the vertical plastic trim at the 12 oclock to the spare tire using the 4 plastic trim pieces (it should cover up the newly installed trailer wiring harness neatly). Replace the spare tire, secure it with the center lock and wing nut. Replace the trunk trim pieces and secure with the plastic nuts (triangular piece first, then the 2 other pieces at 5 and 7 oclock). Replace the rear floor panel. Replace the side access compartment covers.

Congratulations--you’re done!
Attached Images
File Type: pdf BMW E53 X5 Hitch install 20120331143051744.pdf (570.8 KB, 4901 views)
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  #2  
Old 04-01-2012, 12:40 PM
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:15 PM
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Worth mentioning that 2004 and onwards may require coding by the dealer to allow the vehicle to recognize the trailer wiring module that you installed in step 12. Earlier X5s didn't require coding (my 2003 didn't) but it appears to depend on the specific software that your vehicle has, whether the module is recognized or not. If not, trailer wiring and PDC cancellation will not function correctly.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:01 PM
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JCL, is the coding can only be done at the dealer? If not coded what are the symptoms? Constant beeping when towing or only when reversing?
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:26 PM
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Trailer lights not operating correctly, and rear PDC coming on when a trailer is connected. You can defeat the beeping by turning PDC off manually.

Since the vehicle doesn't know a trailer is connected, trailer stability control and rear camera features may not work correctly either.

While a gt1 may be able to code it I would want the benefit of the most recent software, which means the dealer.
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCL View Post
Worth mentioning that 2004 and onwards may require coding by the dealer to allow the vehicle to recognize the trailer wiring module that you installed in step 12. Earlier X5s didn't require coding (my 2003 didn't) but it appears to depend on the specific software that your vehicle has, whether the module is recognized or not. If not, trailer wiring and PDC cancellation will not function correctly.
The trailer module is the cylindrical thing which goes next to receiver? I had installed on 2005 4.8is and don't recollect any coding by dealer and no PDC issues either. Maybe the software version recognized it.
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:26 PM
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The trailer wiring module is the white box that mounts near the spare tire. The cylindrical adaptor that plugs into the receiver-mounted receptacle is just an adaptor to get a flat four plug connection.
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:51 PM
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The trailer wiring module is the white box that mounts near the spare tire. The cylindrical adaptor that plugs into the receiver-mounted receptacle is just an adaptor to get a flat four plug connection.

Now, I remember. It has been several years since I visited that area. Thanks.
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:45 PM
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Help with Bolt Part Numbers

About a year ago I was rear ended and the shop that did the repairs installed the OEM trailer hitch. When cleaning out the spare tire area I found that the M10x30mm mentioned in the DIY (copied below) were not installed and the parts are nowhere to be found.



Part 7. Install the bumper supports... From the trunk, along the path of the bumper support, you will see 2 weathersealed bolt holes—use a screwdriver or small blade to cut out the black rubberized weatherstripping to expose these holes. Put in a M10x30mm bolt and washer into these 2 holes—hand tighten.

Are they:
Hex bolt with washer 22316761120 Desc: M10X30-ZNS3
Or
Hex bolt with washer 07119903813 Desc: M10X30-U1-10.9
There are several other options as well.
Does anyone know what the ZNS3 and U1 designations mean?
Should I be using an 8.8 grade bolt or a 10.9? I'm leaning toward 10.9 since it has higher strength ratings.
I’m not sure about the thread pitch either.
Anyone have a suggestion?
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:58 AM
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I just installed one and all of the bolts were stamped 10/9 on the heads.
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