Objective: This article will detail the replacement of the manual shift knob found in a BMW E39 5-series. A video of wiring an M5 shift knob is embedded at the bottom, as well as wiring an M shift knob into a non-M BMW.
Applicable Vehicles: 1997-2003 BMW E39 5-series: 523i, 525i, 530i, 535i, 540i, M5.
Parts Required: Shift knob. Note: M5’s have illuminated shift knobs, and will use one of these part numbers, depending on production date:
Vehicles with bruyere wood trim manufactured before 9/00: BMW Part Number:
Vehicles with bruyere wood trim manufactured after 9/00: BMW Part Number: 25112282202.
Vehicles with aluminum (titan line) trim, manufactured before 9/00: BMW Part Number: 25112282402.
Vehicles with aluminum (titan line) trim, manufactured after 9/00: BMW Part Number: 25112282400.
The only difference in parts before and after September, 2000, is the the wiring. If you own an M5 and thus have the illuminated part, the connector changed. When I replaced my part, they old wiring-harness was not available for purchase. All I had to do in my case was cut the wiring plug off of my old part, cut the one off of the new part, and splice the like wires together. I asked a BMW technician, and he informed me that the power levels are the same. OEM, the pre 9/00 M5s came with a differently finished knob, one that had the finish wear off the metal part very quickly. All of the above parts are the post 9/00 fully leather wrapped parts.
Time: Less than 15 minutes.
Procedure: We must first remove the old shift knob. If your part has never been removed before, this may be difficult. Start with the leather shift boot. This is held in the center console trim with a few clips. Press towards the knob on the right and left sides of the boot, and pull up.
Now we must take the shift knob off of the actual metal shift lever. I ended up sitting on top of my center console arm rest, putting my head out of the sunroof, and pulling almost as hard as I can. If you’re in an M car, unplug your wiring first so you don’t pull the wiring harness out with it. Otherwise, it should just come straight off with enough force. There is no unscrewing required.
Installation is easier. In the M5, plug the wiring in as it was before, line the shift knob on-top of the level, and hit it with the palm of your hand. Make sure it’s correctly lined up and straight, and it should snap on. Now push the corners of the boot back into the console, straighten out your leather, and enjoy your refreshed interior.
Wiring an Illuminated M Knob on non-M BMW: Colton has an illuminated M5 shift knob in his 2001 BMW 540i, and it works just as one in an M5 would. This is not at all difficult, but will require some extra time and wiring. Since only the M5 has the wiring adapter already there for the knob, we’ll have to take our 12 volts from somewhere else. The easiest place will be the ashtray illumination. To obtain this wire, the center console must be removed.
Start in the rear seat, and pull the cup-holders or cubby out. A flat pry tool should do the job. With that out of the way, pull the vents down and out, unplug and fully remove them if you wish for the extra space. We have now revealed two of the five screws to remove the center console. Unscrew the two black screws that hold the arm rest in, and pull it up and towards the back seat, set it aside. The next two screws to remove the console are underneath the shift boot. If yours is not out yet, push towards the shift knob on the sides of the boot, and pull up. The two screws are in the top corners around the shifter cut-out. With the shift boot out, reach under it and push up on the central locking button and hazard light switch, they will pop straight up, revealing the last screw. Unplugging these two buttons from their wiring harnesses will be necessary to remove the center console. The only thing holding it in now is a plastic wiring clip in the top left of the console, nearest the steering wheel, and the purple wire that goes to the ashtray light. Simply twist the wiring harness on the top left of the console about 30 degrees, and pull it free from the console. The ashtray light will pull out of the console.
Just splice open the purple ashtray light wire, and add in your shifter. You will need to test the power when you have it connected with your fingers to make sure that the wires are on correctly. Colt did need to find a length of similar-guage wire to bridge the shifter in.
Once you have secured our new connection, assemble the console in the same way it came out, remembering to check all connections for tightness and conductivity. Replace the five screws, two buttons, arm rest, vents, and rear cup-holders. You should now have an illuminated M shift knob in addition to your light ashtray in your BMW 5-series.
2000-2003 BMW M5 Shift Knob Replacement
1997-2003 BMW E39 5-Series M5 Shift Knob Replacement and Wiring