***This article is a supplement to the primary DIY video posted at the bottom of this article. Reference that video to see the steps in action and for a better visual explanation.***
Objective: This article will summarize the required parts and necessary procedures that must be completed in order to properly retrofit front parking sensors on an E39 BMW 5-series presently with rear sensors from the factory.
Applicable Vehicles: 1997-2000 model year BMW E39 5-series: 528i, 540i, M5.
Subject Vehicle: 02/2000 BMW E39 M5, DE93 USA, S508A Rear PDC factory option.
Parts Required: All of the parts required to complete this retrofit are listed in the table below.
|Part Number||Quantity||Part Description||Price|
|51118172386||1||Front bumper carrier with front PDC outlets||$186.87|
|51118174185||10||Front bumper carrier pop rivets||$9.90|
|61120027997||1||Front PDC wiring harness||$92.23|
|51117894139||1||Left impact strip, M5 bumper, PDC support||$20.58|
|51117894140||1||Right impact strip, M5 bumper, PDC support||$20.58|
|66216916406||1||PDC module, with front and rear support||$260.13*|
|61130006663||5||Wiring pins center console switch and PDC harness||$18.75|
|61130007571||1||Wiring pin for gong speaker||$3.82|
|61131378460||1||Pin housing for gong speaker||$3.15|
|Various**||1||Center console switch panel, PDC Support||$75*|
*These parts can be purchased on Ebay, or from forums such as M5Board for significantly cheaper. I simply linked the OEM brand new ones at their list prices. I was able to complete this job for about $600 myself.
**Each center console switch panel has a different part number. There are many buttons that this panel can have, you are aiming to find the one that retains all of the buttons that you have now, plus a PDC button. I just used eBay and found the correct layout of buttons that I needed, and purchased that model.
Difficulty: Moderate. Routing wires through interior and dashboard, custom-pinning a few harnesses.
Time: 6-10 hours.
Additional Material (optional): This is the official BMW technician installation guide. It offers technical diagrams and instructions to retrofitting the PDC system as a whole.
A) Front parking sensor installation, wiring to trunk
I began the job by installing the 4 parking sensors into the front bumper. You must first remove the bumper in order to replace the bumper carrier. The bumper carrier is the steel reinforcement inside the bumper. We must replace this part because vehicles with front PDC used a carrier with holes in it to accommodate the 4 sensors. The part number for the carrier is 51118172386. Refer to the E39 M5 Rear Bumper Removal video below in addition to the PDC Retrofit DIY videos below to see the steps for removing the front bumper and changing out the carriers. This is not difficult, but it is a two person job. The bumper carrier is held into the plastic bumper with several of BMW’s infamous black plastic pop-rivets, part number 51118174185. Remove the clips, exchange the carriers, and replace the clips with new ones to hold in the new carrier.
If your bumper does not have pre-cut holes for the PDC sensors, you must cut them. In the M5 bumper, you can drill the holes and they will be covered up by the impact strips that house the sensors. You also have the option of replacing the bumper with a bumper that has pre-cut holes for the sensors. I used a 1.25″ drill bit, and drilled from the bottom through (very carefully) to make the holes in the bumper. Line up the impact strips so you can see right where the holes need to be, and be careful not to damage the exterior finish of the bumper.
You can now insert the impact strips with PDC holes (51117894140 right and 51117894139 left for the M5) back into the bumper, and install the 4 PDC sensors (66206989068) into the impact strips. Now we’re ready to get the front PDC wiring harness (61120027997). Plug the sensors in, and route the harness into the engine bay.
Keep in mind that the harness needs to start on the passenger side with the first sensor, and end up with the remaining length and connector in the passenger’s side of the trunk where the PDC module is. I ran the harness down the passenger’s side of the car, and into the trunk where the PDC module (66216916406) exists behind the carpet door. BMW specifies that the harness should be run down the driver’s side, and then across the trunk underneath the carpeting to the module. This would probably be easier than what I did, seeing as there are easier ways to get through the firewall on the driver’s side. I was able to get the harness up to the firewall myself. From there, I had a local BMW independent shop wire it through the firewall, through the interior, and into the trunk. They took apart the blue connector on the harness, and fed the wires through the DME box (under passenger’s side cabin air filter box) and then under various pieces of trim and carpeting through the rest of the car. This is the only part of this job that I did not complete myself.
Reinstall the front bumper. You now have the front of the car finished, and we’re ready to do some minor wiring modifications to get the setup to work.
(Above) See how the bumper carrier fits into the bumper once it has been removed.
(Above) Holes drilled for sensors in M5 bumper (hole on right was already there)
(Above) M5 front bumper with new carrier, drilled holes, impact strips, and front PDC sensors.
B) Wire center console switch to support front PDC
Vehicles with front PDC have a modified center console switch panel to incorporate the control button to toggle on/off the PDC system. Note that it will automatically turn on when you select reverse. You must replace this panel with the correct panel that retains all of your existing buttons, plus the PDC button. My car originally had the 2 heated seat controls, the Sport button, and the DSC button. I sourced a panel that had those buttons, plus a PDC button from Ebay, for around $75.
Pop out the old panel by first removing the HVAC panel (the panel that has the temperature settings, fan control, vent options, etc). You can pop this out with a plastic pry tool, it is just held in with springing metal clips. Reach into this opening, and push out on the switch panel to remove it. There is one large harness that plugs into the switch panel. Depress the clips on each far end, and wiggle the harness off of the center switch panel.
Back in the trunk, the PDC module that came with rear only PDC cars has two connectors. Black (power, speaker signals, reverse signal) and white (rear sensor harness). This must be replaced with a module that supports front PDC, and adds a blue connector (front sensor harness) in addition to the black and white connectors. I used part number 66216916406 for the updated module. These can be purchased from Ebay for around $50. Keep in mind that there are many different part numbers that will work, any module that looks like the 66216916406 and has the black, blue, and white connectors should work.
(Above) PDC module that supports front PDC. I used 66216916406, but anything that looks like this should work.
C) Wire front gong speaker to PDC module
On the black PDC module harness, we need to add pin (61130006663) to plug into pin 9. This will run to the T4 pin on the front gong speaker. The front gong speaker pins, just like all of the other harnesses we’re toying with, are well labeled not he connector housing itself, so finding the correct pin numbers should not be difficult. There are two parts to the pin for the front gong speaker, 61131378460 for the housing, and 61130007571 for the electrical contact pin itself with the 16 inch or so lead. Run this third wire just as the other two through the interior, but stop in the driver’s foot well, where the gong speaker is located. Make the connections with terminal connectors, plug in the new pin (61131378460 for the housing, and 61130007571 for the electrical contact), and the system will be ready for a test.
(Above) Front gong speaker, removed, T4 front PDC pin circled.
(Above) This is part 61131378460. This will plug into pin T4 on the front gong speaker.
D) Reassemble interior, test system
Providing all of the proper connections have been completed successfully, your 1997-2000 model year BMW 5 series should now have functioning front sensors in addition to the rear.
If you go to activate the system and hear a long solid beep, this indicates that the system has been disabled due to a fault. Unless, of course, you are parked very close to something and it is simply indicating that. If your system is disabled, check all connections to make sure the proper pin paths have been taken. Also, put the vehicle in reverse and listen to each sensor for a faint clicking sound. A working sensor will click when it is activated. A dead sensor will be silent, and would be reason for the system to disable itself. If you come across a dead sensor, it could pay to swap it with a known working one to insure that it is just the sensor that is faulty and not the wiring harness. Replace a dead sensor, and reevaluate.
If the system is still disabling itself, you can try a battery reset. Simply remove the negative terminal from the battery overnight, this will allow the vehicle’s modules to reset themselves and their temporary memory. Reconnect the battery terminal the next morning, and try again.
If you are still unsuccessful, you may need a dealer or shop to code the new PDC module specifically for your car. Note that my vehicle did not require this to be done. But with all of these cars being so different, it is possible.
For the official BMW technician installation guide, review this PDF. It offers very technical wiring diagrams and instructions for retrofitting the PDC system as a hole.
Be sure to watch the videos below, as they will answer many questions and help you better visualize what is being done here. Good luck, and enjoy!