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Bmwe5320023.0 04-20-2021 11:26 PM

Rain and light sensor retrofit question
I've googled extensively but didn't find much on E53, only bits and pieces.
I've stripped the inside of my car as I'm swapping interiors and I thought I'd add those features.
I think I already have the auto headlight, as my switch has the "A" letter.

However I probably don't have the rain sensor. From reading posts on e46 and e38 retrofits, seems like there's a module that goes together with the rear view mirror.
As I was removing the headliner, my rear view mirror fell off. Made a mess with some black flakes. But even before that, the mirror looked flimsy and not at the right place. I think someone did something with it previously.
Now I heard that in order to add rain sensing, one needs to replace the windshiel as well (not sure why).
My windshield is in a very poor condition and I thought I could add the rain sensing option if I'm to replace the windshield.
Here's what the windshield looks like and the mirror which fell off
https://i.ibb.co/H233M55/20210420-203405.jpg https://i.ibb.co/yVdBVsb/20210420-203154.jpg

Has anyone added rain sensing to their E53?

80stech 04-21-2021 01:10 AM

AFAIK the rain sensor doesn't work properly with a replacement windshield because the glass will be thinner than the original, so that might be something to keep in mind or do a little more research on.

andrewwynn 04-21-2021 01:29 AM

The rain sensor gets calibrated, as long as the replacement has a clear spot for the sensor it should work. If not clear but painted with the black dots, those could be scraped off.

Clavurion 04-21-2021 06:36 AM

Automatic lights came available from 10/2001 on. As the light sensor is implemented in rain/light sensor a vehicle with auto lights will always have rain sensor. Are you sure that light switch is original and you have auto lights? If there was a rain sensor there should also be a flat 4 pin connector on the same wiring harness coming to rear view mirror. The lens part of the sensor comes with the windscreen.



Bmwe5320023.0 04-21-2021 07:21 AM

I'm not sure if the switch is original.
My car is 2002 so maybe it came with rain/light sensing?
If I turn the switch to "A", the headlights come on.
Not sure how that works since it looks I'm missing the rain light sensor under the rear view mirror which is responsible for detecting light/darkness.
Unless the car simply defaults to have the headlights come on in case there's no sensor connected/installed?
Here's my connector to the mirror
https://i.ibb.co/rf5Qt6b/20210421-045707.jpg https://i.ibb.co/jWtwX4j/20210421-045719.jpg

I dont seem to have the same connector as in your first picture. Maybe it's hiding under the headliner, I'll take a closed look.
I definitely don't have anything on the windshield as on your second picture.
I can definitely tell that the rear view mirror was reglued at some point, for some reason.
Looking from the front, there does seem to be some kind of a cut out in the film for the sensor. Not sure if.im seeing it correctly.
I don't know of the previous owner removed the light rain sensor for some reason...
Or maybe he thought of retrofitting this function like I am but gave up. I saw a DIY of a guy with E38. Instead of having the windshield with a cut out for the sensor, he used black epoxy to paint it.
Rain sensing wiper retrofit write-up (long)

Now I don't know if the previous owner tried to do the same thing. The only reason I'm suspecting something like that is because how badly the black paint/film crumbled when the mirror fell off. So I'm not sure if that was factory.

I guess the first thing is to determine for certain if the car came with this rain sensor, and in that case it would have the connector.

Overboost 04-21-2021 07:21 AM

I retrofitted the RLS system on my E46 and it is really easy. The RLS only needs 4 wires but you will need a new windshield, RLS with mirror cover, the switch you already acquired, make a 7 ft 4 wire harness and code the car for RLS.

RLS pin 1 (KLR power)...to/from... Fuse 15 (mine was empty) (violet)
RLS pin 2 (ground)...to/from... empty connection on ground strip module above fuse box (brown)
RLS pin 3 (k-bus)...to/from... empty connection on K Bus strip module above fuse box (white/red/yellow)
RLS pin 4 (wiper motor signal)...to/from... X253 GM5 pin 45 (brown/green)


Here is the link to my E46 retrofit.


Bmwe5320023.0 04-21-2021 07:53 AM

Thanks Overboost, I was actually reading your DIY just a couple of minutes ago!
I guess the first step is to replace the windshield.
I believe you said to use Saint Gobain Sekurit glass or Pilkington glass (whatever those mean).
I can ask for those (if the windshield guy will know what I mean).
I'm not sure if the windshields are vehicle specific? I.e. how do I make sure I get the right cutout for the rain light sensor on the new windshield?

Now my next step would be to get the following for the scrap yard:

- RLS module (which I now know what it looks like, so I can just remove it from any compatible bmw that has it, if I understand correctly)
- Connector for the RLS module
- Mirror cover

I'm.not sure if my mirror cover would accommodate the sensor?
https://i.ibb.co/wy0SQ6Q/20210421-053956.jpg https://i.ibb.co/NNxrYK9/20210421-053946.jpg

Can I keep my mirror (I believe it has a compassion function based on the letters here)

Kept looking at found a wire that was taped to another wire, I got excited that maybe it was for the sensor!!
https://i.ibb.co/Kwm9Chq/20210421-054151.jpg https://i.ibb.co/cJ3w3WN/20210421-054205.jpg

Ahhh, only 3 pins, not sure what it's for.

Almost gave up but decided to look all over again and I think I found the right one this time!
https://i.ibb.co/xMcvKRh/20210421-054313.jpg https://i.ibb.co/SvktvQn/20210421-054322.jpg

Now if this is the stock connector I'm golden I guess!

Just need to get a rain sensor now?

I was reading they're really complicated to remove, I.e. one guy was in another post he brought a torch to heat it up. In Canada torches are not allowed at scrap yards.

Should I just order one from ebay instead?
Then glue it with silicone to the new windshield and be done!

Overboost 04-21-2021 08:55 AM

That looks like the correct connector. :thumbup: I have found most everything on the E53 is prewired, even if the car left the factory without certain options.

I don't think you will have the results you are looking for using your current windshield. You need the diffuser prism plate that already comes on the St. Gobains RLS glass as @Clavurion posted. If you get the glass without it and try to glue one on, it rarely works properly if at all. The correct windshield is right at $300 installed so that should be the first thing to start with.

You can use your current mirror, you just need the outer housing to cover the RLS on the windshield.

80stech 04-21-2021 09:04 AM

So the sensor will calibrate and work properly with the thinner windshield ?

Overboost 04-21-2021 09:11 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by 80stech (Post 1202875)
So the sensor will calibrate and work properly with the thinner windshield ?

It's not the thickness of the glass, I'm fairly sure all the glass is within spec for USDOT regulations. It is the filter/prism that needs to be in place. I have seen so half assed attempts to glue one on and the results are minimal.

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