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Old 01-28-2012, 11:50 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Pictorial DIY Guide: Retrofit Power Folding Mirrors to your E46 BMW (1997 to 2006)!

My original DIY guide was causing confusion with owners that had cars either in Europe or cars made before 9/99 and after 3/03. Their feedback led me to discover some new information regarding E46 power folding mirrors.

In shedding some new light on the issue, I managed to simplify and update the original power folding mirrors retrofit guide to include production build E46 cars from 1997 all the way to 2006 as well as European cars.

However, there is still some mystery surrounding the memory bus ribbon mirrors after 3/03 that I discuss below. Let us begin....

For those of us that drive and parallel park in a big city or spend long weekends at the mall parked in those tight spaces between door dinging SUVs then this feature will come in handy if you got about $300 to $500 and a few hours of DIY time to spare. Otherwise, for free you can just fold in the mirrors with your hands.

But who wants to do that when you can power fold your mirrors from the comfort of your driver's cockpit...

...or from the convenience of your key fob as you remote lock/unlock the car:

PART ONE: BMW made at least four types of mirror control switches in as many as six colors for the E46 cars.

On the top side the switches for the mirrors all look the same. However, what each switch really does can only truly be identified by the color of the bottom side of those switches (or also by the parts numbers).

On the bottom side of the manual folding switch we have these three color types:

-Turquiose bottom switches go with memory manual folding mirrors.

-Black bottom switches work with non-memory manual folding mirrors.

-Grey bottom switches are mainly found in European cars with non-memory manual folding mirrors.
(Although not 100% confirmed these Grey switches may provide the tilt-reverse function on Euro cars with non-memory/non-powered seat)

On the bottom side of the power folding switch we have these three color types:

-Purple bottom switches will work on cars with memory power folding mirrors and memory power adjust seats.

-Yellow bottom switches go with non-memory power folding mirrors on cars without memory and no power adjust seats.

-White bottom switches go with non-memory power folding mirrors found on cars with memory power adjust seats.
(This rare White switch is mainly found on pre 9/99 European cars that had this uncanny combination of memory power seats with non memory power folding mirrors)

For the remainder of this DIY guide I will just refer to the switch as the color of the bottom side. So when I write the words "Yellow switch" it will be referring to a switch that has a yellow colored bottom. For early production year E46 and some European E46 cars you may come across a color bottom that is different from what I list here. There could be a multitude of reasons for that but for the most part 99% of E46 cars will have one of these 4 switch types in any of the 6 colors I've mentioned.

PART TWO: BMW made two types of mirrors for the E46 cars:

1. Memory mirrors that operate in cars built after 09/1999 which have memory power adjust seats.

2. Non-Memory mirrors that operate in cars with no memory and no power adjust seats. Non-memory mirrors also come on ALL E46 cars made before 09/1999.

PART THREE: The most important facet of the E46 mirrors that distinguish them apart is how they connect to the car.

1. Both Memory manual folding and power folding mirrors use identical 12 pin-connectors to receive memory, tilt and fold in/fold out commands from the car.

These mirrors simply connect to the car via control modules also called memory modules. Both manual folding and power folding memory mirrors use the same control "memory" module that sits inside each door under each side mirror. These in-door control modules are what provide the mirrors with memory, tilt and power-fold commands.

If your car already has power and memory seats then already it also has these control modules in the doors and you do not need to buy them or replace them when upgrading to power folding memory mirrors.

Again I will reiterate when retrofitting memory power-fold mirrors onto a car with memory/power adjust seats you do not need to buy or replace these control modules. You also should not need to code the control memory modules to fold the mirrors. However, once installed the car will have to be coded to remote control fold the mirrors via the key fob under the convenience features. Cars that have an Intravee II running Version 6.02 installed can also be coded thru Intravee's i-Bus controller to have the mirrors "convenience" fold and unfold a bunch of ways.

Said and done once installed these mirrors will immediately power fold and unfold right away with just the use of the power folding mirror switch.

To update the switch you would need to only replace the turquoise manual folding mirror switch in your car with the purple power folding mirror switch. The switches both use the same connector and are direct plug and play.

Once you have the power folding mirrors and the purple switch then the rest of the DIY is simple plug and play. This type of retrofit is more prevalent in the USA and Canada since more E46 cars in the USA came with memory and power seats.

The DIY is also a simple plug and play project even for the eBay M3 Replica kits that work off the OEM purple power folding switch since the purple switch is all you would need to buy after you get the power folding mirrors.

2. In stark contrast, Non-Memory mirrors connect very differently to the car.

Manual folding mirrors will connect to the car and the Black (or in some cars Gray) manual folding mirror switch using 6 pin connectors that have 5 or less wires leaving the mirror base.

When you have Non-Memory mirrors that are power folding you will have 5 wires on the 6 pin connector at each mirror and a extra 2 pin connector with two wires leaving one of the mirrors.

This 2 pin wire receives the fold in/fold out command from the Yellow or White power folding mirror switch via a non-memory power folding control module box that sits behind the glove box.

This makes retrofitting Non-Memory mirrors onto a car with non-memory, manual adjust seats a bit more tricky because you need to buy the non memory power folding control module and install it behind the glove box in order to send the power fold commands to the Non-Memory mirrors from the power folding mirror switch. It is also unclear if this module would need coding to get the mirrors to fold right away from the switch. However, this type of mirror can be coded for the key fob remote "convenience" either using an aftermarket device or the OEM coding methods.

A good thing is they are lots of aftermarket non memory power folding modules and parts that cater to the difficulties of installing non memory power folding mirrors in non-memory E46 cars. They are a few threads on them in the DIY section. More information on what kits to get can be found by using Google Search. You will also find this type of retrofit will be more prevalent in Europe and the parts of the world where more E46 cars did not come with memory or powered seats.

3. The E46 BMW Ribbon BUS Revolution of March 2003!

In 3/2003 BMW extended the Memory BUS system to the mirrors which now used ribbon connectors. This created a new set of mirror part numbers for cars after 03/2003.

The ribbon mirrors as they are called still used the same memory control modules as previously used in the 9/99 up to 3/03 cars that came with memory seats. So this retrofit would entail the same journey as before under the memory-power folding retrofit for cars 9/99 up to 3/03. Just get the mirrors and the switch and plug and play them. The only question is whether the car would need dealership coding to get the mirror switch and key fob to fold the mirrors.
Furthermore it is another mystery as to what control module is used on the non memory manual adjust seat cars after 3/2003 for non memory power folding mirrors. The parts database does not show any specific control module that exists for non memory cars after 3/2003.

The final and biggest mystery concerning the non memory mirrors is that the BMW P/Ns for non memory power fold mirrors stays the same from 09/1997 all the way to 2006. I'm not sure if that means BMW didn't update the P/Ns or the actual non-memory power folding mirror housing and wiring stays unchanged for non memory cars over the years. Meaning these cars do not use a ribbon BUS system in the mirrors.

PART FOUR: Follow the letter guide below that most suits your current set up and needs before starting your DIY Project.

Choose A if your car currently has manual adjust seats and no memory functions. Choose B if your car has electric seats and memory. Choose C if you want to retrofit power fold memory mirrors into your non-memory and/or manual-adjust seats. You can also Choose C if your E46 is a pre 09/1999 model and you want to attempt to add memory tilt power fold mirrors.

If you have a USA spec LHD sedan or touring/wagon then simply use the P/Ns in the sections below to purchase your mirrors and parts. Memory power adjust seat cars already have the 2 control modules in the car so DO NOT buy them! I only listed it to show all the ingredients used to power fold the power folding mirrors.

The prices listed below are the average suggested retail price of the parts as of 12/2011. I found the prices to be much cheaper at most of the forum's sponsor web stores (ECSTuning, GetBMWParts, Tischer and even Circle BMW and most online parts stores have much lower prices).
If you have an M3, a Coupe, a Convertible or a Compact (ti) then use to find your appropriate P/Ns for your car. The mirrors are listed under Vehicle Trim > Outside Mirrors. The switches are listed under Vehicle Electrical System > Switch > Various Switches, Cigar Lighter. The control modules are listed under Vehicle Electrical System > Control Units, Modules, Sensors, Relays > Body Control Units and Modules.
If you have a European car that is RHD or LHD please refer to the parts catalogue to find the P/Ns you need for your specific car. Sadly, I do not live in Europe anymore so I cannot tell you what will work on certain Euro E46 cars.

USA mirrors have completely different part numbers than Euro LHD and RHD mirrors. Also the mirror pin connectors and wiring that receive the power fold and tilt functions are very specific to the orientation of the mirror relative to the driver's seat. So RHD mirrors and LHD mirrors are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE! This means a USA shopper cannot go on and buy European RHD power fold mirrors for his USA LHD car. With in Europe this distinction is also true for countries that have LHD cars and other countries that have RHD.


Car's production date is 03/2003 or later
x1 Heated outside mirror, left P/N: 51168245129 $344.82
x1 Heated outside mirror, right P/N: 51168245132 $344.82
x1 Yellow Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function. P/N: 61318373732 $67.34

Car's production date is from 09/1999 up to 03/2003-6 PIN/2 PIN CONNECTORS
x1 Heated outside mirror, left P/N: 51168245129 $344.82
x1 Heated outside mirror, right P/N: 51168245132 $344.82
x1 Yellow Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function. P/N: 61318373732 $67.34
x1Control Unit/module outside mirror fold-in function OBSOLETE-P/N: 61358376506 **
or Control Unit/module outside mirror fold-in function NEW-P/N: 61359177976 $83.78**

Car's production date is from 09/1997 up to 09/1999

x1 heated outside mirror, left P/N: 51168245129 $344.82
x1 heated outside mirror, right P/N: 51168245132 $344.82
x1 European Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function. P/N: 61318373689 $67.34
or Yellow or White Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function. P/N: 61318373732 $67.34
x1 Control Unit/module outside mirror fold-in function OBSOLETE-P/N: 61358376506 **
or Control Unit/module outside mirror fold-in function NEW-P/N: 61359177976 $83.78**


Car's production date is 03/2003 or later-RIBBON CONNECTORS
x1 Heated outside mirror, memory bus, left P/N: 51167153087 $438.73
x1 Heated outside mirror, memory bus, right P/N: 51167153088 $438.73
x1 Purple Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function P/N: 61316901383 $67.34

-And you should already have in your car:
x2 Control units, mirror memory P/N: 61356916054 $125.69 (x2) *

Car's production date is from 09/1999 up to 03/2003 - 12 PIN CONNECTOR
x1 Heated outside mirror with memory left P/N: 51167003437 $344.82
x1 Heated outside mirror with memory right P/N: 51167003440 $344.82
x1 Purple Switch f mirror adjust./folding back function P/N: 61316901383 $67.34

-And you should already have in your car:
x2 Control units, mirror memory NEW-P/N: 61356916054 $125.69 (x2)*
or Control units, mirror memory OBSOLETE-P/N 61356913364 (x2)*

Car's production date is from 09/1997 up to 09/1999
No MEMORY Power Fold-In Mirrors are found in Parts Database! So during these years you can own a 3 series with non-memory/non-tilt power fold-in mirrors in a car that has memory-powered seats OR you can have a 3 series with non-memory/non-tilt power fold-in mirrors in a car that only has non-memory/manual-adjustment seats.

*These Control units/Modules are already in your car and you do not need to buy them for the retrofit if your car seats are electric and have memory. Manual and Power Folding Memory mirrors use the same Control units/Modules.

** This Control Unit/Module for non-memory power folding mirrors sits behind the glove box and is not needed for 03/2003-on cars. This module will require purchase of a 12 pin connector harness:
Socket housing 12 POL. P/N: 61138364664 $0.63 with pig tails and appropriate wiring for the retrofit project.


If your car production date is between 9/1997 up to 3/2003 then See Jared's brilliant thread on how to do that here:


Written by Terry Kennedy on way back in 9/2003

E46 wagon folding mirrors (non-M3)


A number of people have asked me about this, so I figured I'd post some details. This isn't a full DIY as I didn't take pictures while the car was apart, and it isn't for the faint of heart anyway.

All that is needed are 3 parts available at your BMW dealer (left mirror assembly, right mirror assembly, and switch). No painting is needed - you re-use your old mirror housings.

Here is a PDF file

of the ETK page for the mirrors. This will give you the part numbers for the left and right mirrors (item #2) for cars with and without "high gloss shadow line". You also need a replacement mirror control switch. On my car it was 61 31 6 901 383 which is the switch for folding mirrors and seat memory. Part number 61 31 8 373 732 is for folding mirrors without seat memory. The mirror housings list for about $250 each and the switch for about $50.

Before I started I made sure that I had a fuse in position 57 (folding mirrors).

You'll want to disconnect the battery, as the doors have airbags in them and you don't want any accidents. Roll down both the driver and passenger side front windows first.

These instructions are for cars with the HK option - some steps will likely be different for non-HK cars.

I would also suggest leaving one door untouched while you do the other one - you will run into a bunch of "how the heck does this go back together" situations, and having another door for comparison is very useful.

First, I removed the mirror glass (see the split mirror DIY for instructions). Once the glass was removed, 4 small tabs are visible near the corners of the housing. Gently releasing these tabs (they can easily break, particularly the one that is recessed more than the others) will let you remove the painted cover from the leading edge of the mirror housing. What you have left is the part you will replace.

You now have to pretty much gut the doors - remove the mirror switch by pulling up and disconnecting the cable (driver's side) or the blank trim piece (passenger's side) and 2 plastic caps on the underside of the armrest. Unscrew the 3 Torx screws exposed by this. Gently remove the wood or plastic trim, starting at the rear edge of the door and working toward the handle. Remove the Torx screws you have exposed (the one that is longer is the one closest to the handle).

Gently pop the door liner off the door frame. It is secured by a large number of round clips around the side and bottom edges of the door frame and a number of rectangular clips at the top edge of the door frame. Carefully lift it over the door locking pin at the rear. At this point it will still be attached via the handle linkage and a speaker wire. Carefully undo the clip at the rear of the handle and pivot out the linkage cable and white plastic piece.

The speaker wire is attached by a push-in clamp, and then connectors on the backs of the speakers. The woofer is easy - just pinch the clip to release. The midrange is the usual AMP captive-catch connector. I used my usual trick of pushing on the captive catch with a dental pick to depress it, and then pulling the connector halves apart. I haven't found a good way to remove the cable clamp from the back of the door liner other than by giving it a good yank.

At this point you can set the door liner aside. Take a look at the door frame and the general vicinity. If you see any thin felt rings, take them and put them back on the catch pins on the door liner.

You now have to remove a piece of plastic trim which runs from the bottom front edge of the door up to the top of the window frame. Pry out the two plastic pins on the leading edge of the door frame and work this trim piece loose. Take particular care near the door hinge - the trim is split behind the hinge so it can be removed, but it can be easily bent.

Continue working upward, loosening this trim. It will expand out to the grill of the HK tweeter and up into the window frame, where it contains the "anti-trapping" tape-switch (to prevent people from being caught in a closing window). You don't have to remove it completely (and it would be a pain to put it back on) - just release it enough to uncover the HK tweeter. You'll see a 2-pin white cable for the anti-trapping switch there. You should just be able to let this trim piece hang without needing to disconnect the cable.

At this point you need to get into the sound deadening foam glued to the door. This is fragile, gooey, and a general pain. The idea is to undo as little as possible. You'll see a bunch of wires coming out of the bottom of the HK tweeter. Two are for the tweeter; the rest are the mirror controls. These will duck under the sound deadening foam, loop around, and come back out at a lower level. They then run over the front of the foam to a control box near the front of the door, about 2/3 of the way down. That is the mirror control box. Once you have an idea of the scope of the work, carefully peel the foam back without ripping it to expose the mirror cable. The foam is held on with a sticky rubber compound (be careful not to get it on any other parts of the car). Once you have the foam peeled back, you should see the complete path of the mirror wiring harness. Undo the clip holding the mirror harness to the mirror control box and work the cable free. Parts of it will be covered with the rubber goop, and in two places there will be clamps holding it to the door frame. You can repeat the speaker clamp trick with this - your new mirrors come with new clamps pre-attached to the harness.

Now, look at the HK tweeter. You'll see it is held in by a screw at the top and slides onto another screw on the bottom. Remove the top screw and slide the tweeter off. You can just let it dangle - it isn't heavy enough to damage its cable. You will now see two more identical screws below the one you removed (they form a triangle). Support the mirror by reaching out through the open window and remove both screws. You can now work the mirror free. It will probably be stuck to the rubber window gasket, and there is a foam gasket below it. Work it free and gently feed the mirror wiring harness out the hold. Set the mirror aside and unpack your new mirror.

The new mirror also has a foam gasket dangling on the mirror harness. Feed the connector end of the new mirror's harness through the hole in the door and let the harness dangle inside. Position the new foam gasket inside the door frame cavity, taking care to align the holes in the gasket with the mounting holes in the door frame. This will take a couple attempts to get it right. Now, move the new mirror frame up to the door frame and get a feel for how it should attach. Once you have done a few test fittings and have a working plan, support the mirror with one hand while you look through the door frame holes from the inside. You should see the mirror mounting holes lining up with the door frame. Insert one of the 3 mirror mounting screws you removed and tighten loosely. The mirror mounting plate holes are not tapped, so you'll be cutting threads in the casting. When the mirror starts to snug down, stop and repeat with the other two screws. Take a look at the mirror from a number of angles to see how it sits on the rubber gasket at the top of the door as well as at the front of the door and the seam between the lower edge of the mirror bracket and the outside door trim. Wiggle it around to make it look like the other side. You may need to remove it and try again in extreme cases. Pay particular attention to the rubber weatherstripping above the mirror - it flares out near its lower end, but it is easy to bump this and misalign it. Once you have the mirror adjusted properly, tighten the screws all the way (you'll feel a definite increase in resistance once they're fully seated). Check the outside fit and finish one more time. If it is good, remove the top screw, re-attach the HK tweeter, and re-install the screw.

Now, work the mirror harness into the door foam using the same path as the old harness. Once you are sure you have the correct route, pop the clamps into the holes in the door frame and plug the connector into the control unit in the door frame.

At this point, you might want to temporarily install the new window switch on the driver's side and re-connect the battery to test out your new mirror. You can do this with only one side done. Make sure you have full function (normal tilt/pan, folding function, and reverse tilt if you're working on the passenger side).

You now have to make some repairs to the door foam to prevent rattles and leaks. You'll need 3M "Windo Weld" - the TIS calls for 1/4" which is impossible to find around here. I used the next size up (5/16"). This is the rubber goop that holds the foam to the frame. If your car has door/speaker rattles, you'll also want some silicone goop.

First, use the silicone goop (if needed) and put a dollop over the connectors that connect the HK tweeter and the window anti-trapping switch to the door harness (these are under the foam you'll be re-attaching next). Let dry. Take some short pieces of Windo Weld and put them on the door frame at the edges of the foam. Now press the foam down solidly to seat it.

While that is drying, look at your door liner. You'll see that the woofer is held in by 3 Philips screws and the midrange by a threaded collar. Make sure all screws are tight on the woofer and the collar is tight on the midrange. Tighten as necessary. Also, look at the back of the midrange. You'll see a clip that holds the connectors for this speaker. In my car, this is where the HK rattles come from. Save this thought for later.

Now, work the window anti-trapping switch / HK tweeter grill piece back into position. It needs to pop into place around the door frame near the HK tweeter. Make sure you have the anti-trapping switch seated properly as well - you don't want the window to roll up and go "crunch", or worse, "crack". Again, comparing with the other side is very useful. Once you're sure you have the anti-trapping and HK grill parts done, re-position it at the leading edge of the door, again taking care around the hinge area. The edge of this trim will slide under the foam weatherstripping in the middle of the leading edge of the door. Re-insert the two plastic pins (the holes should be well lined up between the trim and the door frame if the trim is properly aligned).

At this point you might want to make sure your window still operates properly. In any event, if you re-connected the battery you'll want to disconnect it again now - you'll be pounding on the door near the airbag shortly.

You are now ready to re-attach the door liner. Make sure everything else is done properly first - you don't want to go back in here if you don't have to. Plug in the woofer cable, then the midrange cable. Tap the speaker cable clamp back into the hole in the door liner that it came out of. Drop another blob of silicone on the back of the midrange, getting both halves of the connector, the bracket, and the back of the tweeter. Support the door panel on something (I used a 5 gallon bucket) to let the silicone set up for a bit.

Once the silicone is set, re-attach the door latch to the door liner and make sure the clip catches. Carefully align the door liner with the door locking pin. Now wiggle the door liner up and down and left and right until the rectangular clips at the top of the door frame line up, and tap the door back onto the clips. You now have to align the many round pins sticking out of the door liner with the matching holes in the door frame. I found it useful to lie on the garage floor, looking upward, with a flashlight and a dental pick to move the pins around as needed. When they are all aligned, pop the door liner back onto the door frame (I used the palm of my hand). Check for fit & finish all around - if there is a bulge between the edge of the liner and the door frame, you either have a misaligned pin or one that isn't popped back in. Repeat as neccessary.

Re-install the Torx screws (in the armrest and under the trim to the rear of the handle). Remember, the longest one goes near the door handle. Again, if you did this right these should all line up.

Re-install the window switch (driver's side) or filler (passenger's side), the two covers under the armrest, and the wood or plastic trim.

Re-install the painted mirror housing, again being careful of the 4 clips. Make sure the clips are completely engaged before the next step.

Re-install the mirror glass, being sure to re-connect the heater wires.

Repeat on the other side.

When you are done, you will need to re-set your mirror memory.

Voila your E46 BMW now has a Premium Package 2 feature that comes on all current BMW models!

Last edited by delmarco; 02-09-2012 at 02:05 AM.
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