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Old 10-12-2019, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 70
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
How To: Adding Steering Wheel w/ paddles to your E70 X5D

Hey guys,

Not too long ago I picked up a 2012 X5D and my goal is to optimize it's functionality, efficiency, and of course fun. One part of this puzzle is adding a steering wheel with paddle shifters which will offer better control over the trans for passing, trailering, engine braking etc. Most of the info in this guide was already out there on the internet but it was in various locations and some of it speculative so I gathered all I could, tested to find what worked, and am consolidating everything into a definitive guide.

DISCLAIMER: This guide will cover the steps needed to accomplish the retrofit along with a few pointers, it will NOT explain every single detail and it assumes that people following the guide posses basic wrenching skills and know how to research on the internet. If you are one who goes on Facebook and asks, "how hard is it to _____?" Then this isn't the guide for you. lol There might be other (better) ways to arrive at the same result but this is how I did it.

Diesel E70s differ from the petrol based 35i and 50i variants in that the diesel never had the option to have paddles from the factory and consequently they are not pre wired. If you own a 35i or 50i then the correct wheel is a direct swap with no coding or wiring needed, there are other guides around for those petrol variants so this will be focused on the M57 powered X5s.

There are 3 steering wheel options to consider:
SSG: Found on Pre-LCI cars these wheels have push/pull paddles allowing a single paddle to shift both up and down. Paddles are a simple switch.
LCI: From LCI M-Sport E70s and come and can be had in Nappa leather which is identical to the X5M wheel minus tri-color stitching. Resistance based pull/pull paddles.
X5M: Pull/Pull resistance based paddles, padded Nappa leather wheel with tri-color stitching.

Wheel choice is subjective, I went with a wheel from a 13' M sport 35i E70. I made sure to get the higher end M-Sport wheel which features the padded Nappa leather like the X5M but without the tri-color stitching, I also like the sleeker look of the LCI paddles compared to the X5M paddles. All the function and comfort but without the flashy aesthetics.

AFAIK the Push/Pull SSG paddles are PNP on E70s once the wiring is ran, no coding or modification of paddles is needed.

Cliff Notes on the Retrofit:
1. Acquire applicable E70 wheel with paddles
2. Modify paddles (if needed)
3. Run wiring from SZL to mechatonics connector
4. Install and Test wheel

If you want to look up wiring diagrams or other proceedures like how to drop the transmission/transfer case support I recommend using NewTIS as a reference, it has tons of helpful info on servicing and repairing your BMW and it's all FREE!

There was a YouTube video posted a while ago where LCI DCT paddles were mounted on an E70 and the instructions were to change coding in the EGS from Wert 00 to Wert 01 which programs the module to read resistance based paddles instead of simple switches. This did not work for me but I was also might have had unsuccessful coding since I was coding with ProTool via BT and when I checked my coding with my Laptop (NCSExpert) I noticed some of my coding didn't stick wtih ProTool, maybe the wireless connection broke. Point being, if you are attempting the DCT paddles give the "wert 0" to "wert 1" a try and if it works then it's the cleanest and easiest solution. If it doesn't then you have this guide to fall back on.

Here is my original Sport wheel

This is the LCI M-Sport wheel in Nappa leather.

Before removing your steering wheel make sure to disconnect the battery prior to removing the air bag. Explosions and faces are not the best combo. ...that's what she said!

We will be converting the paddles from resistance-based to a simple switch. We must gain access to the resistors which means disassembling the wheel and the paddles.

With the paddles opened up you can see the 2 small rectangular resistors, we will be removing both of them and replacing one of them with a small piece of wire.

Here it is with the resistors removed and a piece of wire installed. The resistors are very small and if you don't have experience soldering or have the proper soldering equipment (like me) then it can be challenging. Worst case scenario you reach this point and can't remove the resistors you can likely outsource this to a local computer/electronics repair business, they should be an simple project for them.

Burger Motorsports created a very nice guide explaining how to modify the LCI paddles, in addition to the resistors being removed the pins must be relocated in the connectors. More here:

After your wheel is modified the next step is to run wiring from connector X1880 which goes into the backside of the SZL in the steering column, wiring will be ran down to x8532, the large connector that goes into the mechatronics on the transmission. Originally I was hoping to run the wiring from the SZL to the gear selector and through the transmission tunnel since many BMWs I have worked on have a hole already punched through for manual transmissions. But with the center console being such an elaborate structure I decided against it and intead ran the wiring through the firewall by the dead pedal, by the brake boosted, down into the front driver side wheel well, up-n-over the transmission to x8532 located on the passenger side of the trans.

I guesstimated the length of wire needed with some extra length, wrapped it in heat shrink for added protection and used a wire hanger to "thread the needle".

X5 prepped for running wires

Just above the dead pedal is a thick rubber grommet that I pierced with an exacto knife.

Here is a better look at the grommet with the carpet peeled back, I ran my paddle wiring through that little circular indentation.

Here is a view of that grommet from the other side, it is located just under the brake booster

Here is a view with the diver side liner peeled back, you can see my paddle wiring exiting the grommet at the top right and secured with zip ties.

Not pictured but from here I ran the wiring up and over the transmission making sure it had clean routing and was zip tied out of the way safe from moving parts.

Here are the electrical pins you will need. You can plug the part numbers into Google but please note the P/N for the transmission pins on the right is a BMW # and the one one the left is a raw part number for the pins. Two of each is needed but I recommend getting a couple extra in the off chance you damage one during install or swapping SZL pin locations.

Here is a better look at the pins

To gain access to X1880 you must disassemble the steering column; adjust it out and down, pop off top cover, and pop off lower cover. X1880 is the lower slide-style connector.

With the connector removed from the larger slide connector it's housed in you can see #2 and #4 are empty. #2=Up Shift #4=Down Shift
* If you have questionable habits like myself and used the same color wire for both if the paddles don't work once everything is connected then simply swap these pins. IIRC x1880 #2 goes to X8532 #5 and x1880 #4 goes to x8532 #4

Wires installed

X1880 reinstalled

Going under the vehicle you will need to remove splash shields and the transmission/transfer case support. This is a nice time to change your TC fluid and inspect your mount! You can see x8532 has been removed and is hanging with the paddle wiring

This is what x8532 looks like and it must be disassembled to install the wiring.

There are 3 tabs (2 shown with blue arrows) which are integral in dissembling and assembling the connector

These 3 tabs must be pressed down towards the middle of the connector and this will allow you to slide the lock ring off

The back of the connector which is 90 degrees and houses the wires must be removed from the front of the connector. To do this the 3 tabs must be lifted up and away from the connector which will unlock the back of the connector and allow it to be turned a few degrees counter clockwise and removed. This fine example created in Mircosoft Paint shows how the elbow (red) is locked under the 3 tabs (blue).

The connector has a built in locking mechanism. One one side there is a small white square by the yellow rubber seal, you press this white square in to unlock the pins.

On the other side you can see the locking mechanism, when the white plastic is fluch with the surrounding black plastic, the pins are locked as shown here:

This is what it looks like when the connector is unlocked, notice the white plastic is sticking out a few millimeters.

#4 and #5 are what we need. The unused pin locations have white rubber plugs, in this photo I have already removed the plug from #5.

I did this by pushing it out with a electrical pin tool but you can use a paper clip or something very long and skinny.

Measure and trim your wire if needed and install your on your wire

Install pins into connector

Reinstall x8532 into trans, secure wiring with zip ties and reinstall trans support, splash shields, etc. We are done under the X5.

At this point you can fire up the X5 and check function, if the paddles don't work and you are unsure of your wiring, simple swap #2 and #4 in x1880 and they should work.

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