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How To Retrofit BMW CarPlay Into a 2016 or Older Car


BMW CarPlay is a recent addition and is only available for 2017 and newer models, leaving pre-2016 BMW model owners without the option of enjoying it in their cars. 

BMW Apple CarPlay lets you connect your iPhone to your BMW and use Apple apps on a built-in dashboard display. 

The guide will help you retrofit BMW CarPlay into a 2016 or older car.

Table of Contents
What is Retrofit BMW CarPlay?
How to retrofit BMW CarPlay into a 2016 or older car
Final thoughts

What is Retrofit BMW CarPlay?

Retrofit BMW CarPlay refers to installing Apple CarPlay in a BMW vehicle that did not come with it from the factory. Apple CarPlay is a feature that allows drivers to connect their iPhones to their vehicles and access various apps and features through the car’s infotainment system. 

Retrofitting CarPlay to a BMW provides a range of benefits to drivers, such as enhanced connectivity, improved user interface, voice control, access to popular apps, and future-proofing. Retrofitting BMW CarPlay is a simple and cost-effective way to enhance the driving experience and add new functionality to the car’s infotainment system.

How to retrofit BMW CarPlay into a 2016 or older car

Activating wireless CarPlay in a 2016 BMW or older car is not straightforward, as it requires hardware upgrades that may not be possible in all cases. BMW Apple CarPlay requires the NBT Evo head unit with ID5 or ID6 software. Your BMW needs the latest operating system and onboard computer, unavailable in many older models.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to retrofit BMW CarPlay into a 2016 or older car.

1. Determine capability

First, check whether your car is compatible with CarPlay retrofitting. It can be done by checking the car’s model, production date, and infotainment system type. You can check this information on the BMW website or consult with a specialist.

Check whether the wiring in your car is compatible with the CarPlay retrofit kit. Some retrofit kits may require additional wiring or modifications to the existing wiring to work properly.

Check whether the CarPlay retrofit kit is compatible with the software version of your BMW car. Some retrofit kits may require software updates or modifications to work correctly.

2. Purchase CarPlay retrofit kit

Once you’ve confirmed compatibility, the next step is to buy a CarPlay retrofit kit. This kit includes a new head unit, wiring harnesses, and other components needed for the retrofit.

Overall, it’s important to research and choose a CarPlay retrofit kit that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your BMW car model. It’s also recommended to consult a BMW dealership or a qualified specialist to ensure the retrofitting process goes smoothly.

The price ranges from US $280–400 depending on the model and specifications.

3. Remove existing head unit

You must remove the existing head unit from the car’s dashboard. This may require some disassembly of the dashboard and other car parts.

To remove the existing head unit during retrofitting in a 2016 BMW or older model, you will need to follow these general steps:

  • Disconnect the battery: Before beginning the removal process, disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent electrical accidents.
  • Remove the trim panel: Remove any trim or bezels surrounding the head unit to gain access to it. This may involve removing screws or clips holding the trim panel.
  • Remove the head unit: Use a removal tool or a flat-head screwdriver to release the locking mechanism that holds the head unit in place. Once released, pull the head unit out of the dashboard slowly and gently to avoid damaging any wires or connectors.

4. Install new head unit

Install the new CarPlay head unit using the wiring harnesses in the retrofit kit. Connect the head unit to the car’s speakers, microphone, and other components as needed.

Attach the mounting brackets to the new head unit and then secure the brackets to the dashboard. Ensure that the head unit is mounted securely and that there are no gaps or spaces between the head unit and the dashboard.

Once the new head unit is installed and tested, reassemble the dashboard by attaching any trim or bezels disassembled during removal.

5. Configure the system

Once the new head unit is installed, you must configure the CarPlay system. This may involve updating the software, pairing your phone, and setting up the preferences. 

Here are some steps you can follow to configure the system:

  • Set up CarPlay: If you’re retrofitting a CarPlay system, configure it by following the manufacturer’s instructions or consulting a qualified specialist. Ensure that all CarPlay features, such as Siri voice commands and third-party app integration, are working correctly.
  • Check the navigation system: Test the navigation system by inputting a destination and checking the directions and route guidance. Make sure that the navigation system is accurately tracking your location and providing accurate directions.
  • Configure any additional features: If your new head unit has any additional features, such as a backup camera or DVD player, configure them by following the manufacturer’s instructions or consulting with a qualified specialist.
  • Test the system thoroughly: Once you’ve configured all the system features, test the system thoroughly to ensure that everything is working correctly. Drive your car and use all the system features, including the sound system, navigation, and CarPlay, to ensure that they’re functioning as expected.

6. Test the system

After installation and configuration, test the CarPlay system to ensure it’s working correctly. This includes testing the audio quality, Siri voice commands, and other features.

It is important to take your car for a drive and use all the system features, including the sound system, navigation, CarPlay, and Bluetooth, to ensure that they’re functioning as expected while driving.

Final thoughts

In retrofitting BMW CarPlay into a 2016 or older car, the process is not easy due to the expertise required in choosing the right components.

It is advisable to procure services of a qualified specialist to guide or do the retrofitting for you. 

It’s important to thoroughly test the system after retrofitting a new head unit to avoid any potential issues or malfunctions while driving. If you encounter any problems during testing, consult with a qualified specialist to address the issues.

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