1994-2010 BMW Navigation System Upgrades: (Computer, Display, Software, Maps)


In this article, we will discuss in-depth the steps required to upgrade your BMW’s navigation computer, display, software, and maps.  The information in this article is only applicable to BMWs that speak the same ‘language’.  All of the following models speak this same language, utilize the same connectors, and make use of the same hardware/software interface:

  • E38 7-series (1994-2001)
  • E46 3-series (1999-2006)
  • E39 5-series (1996-2003)
  • E53 X5 (2000-2006)
  • E83 X3 (2004-2010)
  • E52 Z8 (2000-2003)

*It is important to note that in order to upgrade your navigation system, you must first have a navigation system from factory.  Retrofitting navigation to a car that did not originally come with one, while not impossible, is exceedingly challenging, time consuming, and expensive.  This article does not cover or support such an endevour.

*I will also note that BMWs produced for the Japanese market are not supported in this article.  They used completely different wiring harnesses and electronic components for some reason, and they do not speak the same language.  

Please read this article and watch these videos in full before commenting with questions.  I have gone out of my way to make this article very thorough and comprehensive.  

I purchased my 2000 BMW E39 M5 in July of 2010.  Per the VIN sticker on the inside B-pillar of the driver’s door, my car was produced 2/00 (February, 2000).  This makes it a pre-facelift E39 with navigation.  More specifically, it had BMW’s MKII navigation computer, and the 4:3 (small, square) display in the dashboard.  Upgrading to the latest available components is actually a very simple process.  For example, upgrading the first BMW made with navigation to the latest system in this generation of navigation systems hardware is simple.  Very few modifications are required.

At the bottom of this article, you will find four embedded videos that detail the upgrade procedure in an E39 5-series.  Other models will be essentially the same process.  The first video demonstrates upgrading from a MKII computer to a MKIV, and the 4:3 to 16:9 display. The second video shows the software update process.  For select MKIII computers, you will need to reference the third video, which shows how to create and use a Key-CD.  The final video clearly demonstrates how to make your own MKIV V32 software update disc.

We will now move on to identifying the hardware.



The MKI computer starts this generation of BMW navigation systems. The MKI first appeared in 1994 in the E38 7-series, and was moved into the E39 in 1995.  The MKI is the slowest system out of the four, and can be thought of as the first iPhone. It did the job, but was excruciatingly slow, and lacked a lot of functionality, as well as graphical features when compared to the later models. MKI computers used only CD-ROM maps, had an external compass, and required a trimble module in-between the computer and GPS antenna.  The MKI and MKII look identical (identifiable with a square eject button).


MKII computers started being included for the 1998 model year, and now had the compass built in the still required trimble.  Hardware specifications improved, making the system slightly faster than a MKI.  A female voice now replaced the MKI’s male voice, and CD-ROMs were still used for maps.

IMG_4680 (Above) MKII front. MKI looks identical.


(Above) MKII Rear. MKI has slightly different rear connectors.


The MKIII arrived for the 2001 model year in E38 and E39 models. Note that 9/00 production marked the beginning of the  2001 model year. The trimble is now built into the MKIII, meaning that the antenna simply plugs into the back of the computer now. The system is again faster, making the entire experience much smoother.  MKIII systems can run a vastly improved software version as well, which is a huge cosmetic improvement over the MKI and MKII’s software.  MKIII computers are the first to handle split-screen mode and significantly better GPS-Navigation function and directions. CD-ROMs are still the only accepted media for maps.  MKIII has a rounded eject button.


BMW’s MKIV computer is the best available for this generation of cars.  The setup is the same as the MKIII, but the MKIV is faster yet, and now uses DVDs for maps, which means that the entire United States and Canada can fit on one DVD, instead of eight CDs. Note that as of 2012, there are two DVDs (Eastern US and Western US, both include Canada) due to the amount of detail, and POIs (Points of Interest).  MKIV has rounded eject button, and has “DVD” printed on the front, below the disc-loading point.


(Above) MKIV computer. MKIII looks the same, minus the DVD logo in the center.


Note that all navigation computers are compatible with both the 4:3 and 16:9 display.  Any mix and match will be compatible, though the graphics may be stretched or shrunk to fit different display ratios.

Removing the existing computer involves depressing four metal clips (two on each side of the computer) and wiggling the unit out of it’s metal housing bracket.  No tools are needed for this.  When pulled out far enough, you’ll be able to disconnect the blue and purple harnesses (one power, one data to display inside the car).


Required adapter cable part number 61128377432.


Required E38 adapter cable part number 61126907840 or E39 adapter cable part number 61126915132.


For this upgrade, you will be required to bypass the trimble.  The trimble is a module that works in-between the GPS antenna wire and the navigation computer.  The MKIII and MKIV computers have this technology built into the computer itself, so the Trimble is no longer needed.  We must pull the antenna cable from the trimble, and connect it directly to the MKIII or MKIV.  The trimble is located on the back of the amplifier, which will need to be removed so we can access the cable, and remove the trimble altogether if desired.  You can also just unplug it and leave it there.  This job is simple, but takes some time to un-screw everything, and disconnect anything in the way (with the car’s battery disconnected).  Simply pull the thin GPS antenna and power supply from the trimble, leave the power supply wire hanging, and connect the antenna wire to the rear of the MKIII or MKIV instead of the Trimble.  The blue and purple connectors will be plug and play.


Completely plug and play, no modifications required.  Blue to blue, purple to purple, antenna to antenna.

Touring E39

On a touring E39, you’ll need a GPS antenna extension cable to bypass the trimble when upgrading to MKIII or MKIV computer. This part number is 61128377434.


BMW used two displays: the 4:3, and the 16:9.  The smaller screen was used from 1994-2000 (up to 8/00 production).  For the 2001 model year, 9/00 production and later, the 16:9 display took over.  The tape deck moved behind the fold-out display, and the buttons now flanked the wider display on either side.

Upgrading From 4:3 to 16:9 

Back Camera(Above) 4:3 display.

IMG_4881(Above) 16:9 display.

Note that all navigation computers are compatible with both the 4:3 and 16:9 display.  Any mix and match will be compatible, though the graphics may be stretched or shrunk to fit different display ratios.  Upgrading from the 4:3 to the 16:9 unit is plug and play, as shown in the video embedded below.  To break that down a bit, there are several steps you must complete to remove the 4:3 display:

  • Remove the dashboard trim immediately to the right and left of the display. It simply pulls out, it is held by push rivets to the dashboard.  Get a grip on one side of it, and pull.  Be careful to support all of it as it starts to come out to avoid bending or cracking the trim.
  • With those two pieces removed, there are two screws that hold the 4:3 trim to the screen. Remove these screws.
  • Looking on the sides of the 4:3 display, there are metal levers that must be pushed up to allow the old trim to pull away from the monitor.
  • Unscrew the four screws that hold the 4:3 unit into the car, one top-left, one top-right, one bottom-left, and one bottom-center.
  • The display should now pull out of the car, held in by BMW’s navigation wiring.  There are two large connectors, one white, and one blue. One of these supplies power, while the other supplies data from the trunk-mounted navigation computer.  Disconnect the cables.
  • Installation is reverse for the 16:9 display.  The display bezel just pushes on and clips into place.  The 16:9 display bezel is part number 65528385451.


The software is installed on the navigation computer in the trunk.  The term ‘head-unit’ is not really applicable with these BMWs.  The computer in the trunk controls the display in the dashboard.  Some software revisions fix little bugs, while some vastly improve performance, graphics, features, etc.  If you select “Settings” from the main menu on your current system, you will see in the top right a group of numbers in the format: S/W (software) X-1/YY where ‘X’ is your computer model, 1, 2, 3, or 4, and ‘YY’ is your revision number.

Here are the latest versions for each computer:

MKI:  SW 1-1/80 (V24.1)  (not sure where to obtain, Google around or check forums)

MKII:  SW 2-1/81 (V21)  (not sure where to obtain, Google around or check forums)

MKIII:  SW 3-1/63 (V23) and Key CD (if needed).  More information below.

MKIV:  SW 4-1/00 (V32) (Stock BMW software)

MKIV:  SW 4-1/00 (V32) (Modified version:  ///M logo splash screen, night mode color 2, speed camera alerts, warning bypass)



(Above) 4:3 display and MKII computer running latest MKI / MKII software /81 (V21)IMG_4679

(Above) 4:3 display and MKII computer running latest MKI / MKII software /81 (V21)

2(Above) 4:3 display and MKIV computer running latest MKIV software /00 (V32)1(Above) 4:3 display and MKIV computer running latest MKIV software /00 (V32)


(Above) 16:9 display and MKIV computer running latest MKIV software /00 (V32)


(Above) 16:9 display and MKIV computer running latest MKIV software /00 (V32)

The latest MKIII software is SW 3-1/63 (V23).  Some systems report SW 3-1/65.  I can only assume that these are the same.  It is not possible to install V32 on a MKIII system.  I highly recommend that you upgrade to a MKIV computer for enhanced performance, perspective view maps, and DVD map capability.


(Above) Chart shows revision history of MKI-MKIV computer software.  Blue bolded versions are the latest.  Click to enlarge.


You must first download your software.  Refer to the links above to download your appropriate software.  Download the file you wish to use, and use IMGBurn to burn the .cue file to a CD (yes, MKIV computers can read CDs in addition to DVDs).  Use the slowest burn speed possible, and do verify the burn at the end.  Follow the last embedded video at the end of this article for instructions.

If you have a MKIII computer, you could need what is known as a Key CD as well.  This is inserted for a moment right after the software update completes.  The software you’ll want to use for the MKIII will be BMW Navigation OS – (Night Mode MK3 Only – MODE2/FORM1, and can be downloaded here The Key CD is located here.  You will need to extract the file, and then burn the extracted files to a CD.  For the Key CD, you will need to burn the .img file to a CD.

Now that your install disc has been created, it’s time to update your computer’s software.

  • Open the driver’s door, this must remain open during the entire procedure.
  • Put your key in position 1 (one click, lights on dash, radio on, but gauges not active yet).
  • Remove the map CD/DVD from the trunk computer.
  • Insert the burned software update CD/DVD.
  • Small delay (maybe 30 seconds) then update screen with progress bar.
  • Let the computer think, leave your door open. Installation should take between two and six minutes, depending on which computer you’re using.
  • When it’s done, it will say “Software Successfully Loaded”.
  • Remove software CD/DVD from trunk, and replace the maps disc.
  • Confirm your update by pressing “OK” with the right button.
  • The system will now reboot with your new software.

E39Source also hosts NavTweak and NavSpeak.  If you know what they are and how to use them, feel free to download them and play.  We assume no responsibility for any issues you create with your software.  Note that these two files are not necessary at all to update/upgrade your systems.  They are available, however, for users to customize and build your own software if you wish.


The software that is installed on the computer is purely the operating system.  It has nothing to do with the maps and POI (points of interest) that your computer loads.  This information comes from map CD/DVDs that are in the computer in the trunk.  BMW sells maps discs every year, with updates to road networks and POIs. Through BMW, you’ll be spending $199 for an updated version. The choice is yours, but I’ve seen these discs, though possibly just copies, on eBay for around $25 or less.  DVDs are now broken up in two parts, Eastern US, and Western US, both of which include Canada. You can purchase them together, or separately.  Note that discs labeled “High” are for trunk-loading systems while discs labeled “Professional” are for in-dash iDrive computers, and won’t work on this generation of BMWs.  They are not interchangeable.

I personally purchased 2015 High East and West discs for my 2000 M5 with MKIV computer and 16:9 display from eBay. The discs work great, and have all of the details/updates.

Update:  The 2015 High East and West discs are the last disks that BMW will be producing for this generation of navigation equipment.  I recommend that you pick up a set (part number 65902365699) while they are still available.  I sourced a set on Ebay for $15.

Please read this article and watch these videos in full before commenting with questions.  I have gone out of my way to make this article very thorough and comprehensive.  

BMW E39 5-Series MKIV & 16:9 Display Navigation Upgrade DIY

BMW V32 MKIII MKIV Software Update, How-To

BMW V32 MKIII Key CD, How-To

How to Create a BMW MKIV V32 Software Update CD/DVD

The following two tabs change content below.
2000 BMW E39 M5, Silverstone Metallic. 2002 BMW E46 330xi, Topaz Blue Metallic. BA Business Management, Kent State University. E39Source Owner.

Latest posts by Ryan Schultz (see all)

1,049 thoughts on “1994-2010 BMW Navigation System Upgrades: (Computer, Display, Software, Maps)

  1. Ryan – Great write-up! Appreciated you putting in time and effort to provide this info that would be useful to so many folks. I upgraded MKIII to MKIV for my E53 (2001 X5), which was a simple plug-in. Setting screen shows sw 4-/00 and also I see ///M logo splash screen, so looks like it has the latest version on it. Everything seems working fine so far but the arrival time shows blank (dashes). Arrival time is obviously valuable info on GPS. Do you know if there Is a way to fix it?


    • Thanks Yeong! I am glad that you have found our content useful. As for the arrival time- it’s reading dashes when you have a destination set even? I haven’t used my navigation system to actually take me anywhere in several years.

      I would check that your antenna is plugged into the MKIV tightly. Also be sure that the maps are accurate to where you actually are in your town/city. Try programming a few different destinations and driving a little bit to see if it comes back.

      Let me know what you find out.

Leave a Reply to Dan Kruse Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *