Production Date of a BMW Business CD53 Radio unit is the worst indicator to go by when looking for a unit that has integrated AUX IN or MP3 CD playback capabilities.
DO NOT buy a radio for Aux In or MP3 CD playback based on the car's production date or radio's production date alone.
You will NEED to acquire the Part Number of that CD53 Radio to properly assess what that unit is capable of.
Based on the fact that BMW started production of CD53 Aux In Radio in the late summer of 2003, the general consensus is that E46 cars made after mid year 2003 should have Aux In capable CD53 Radios but this is proven time and time again to not be the case. Some folks with late 2003 and even early 2004 production year cars usually discover that their car's CD53 Radios DO NOT have a working Aux Input capability.
Many of us own these cars as second and third hand cars so there is no telling what the previous owners removed and installed from the cars.
Also CD53 Radios that failed would have been replaced under warranty and that car could have received other CD53 Radio units with later or earlier production dates and P/Ns. This is the case with many 2004 and 2005 CD53 radios that had MP3 CD playback.
So if you have a Production Year 2003 BMW E46 or are buying a radio or car from the 2003 and 2004 Production Year stock there is absolutely NO guarantee that that car currently has a CD53 radio with the Aux In feature.
Below I have compiled a list that will help you in deciding what to buy based on your needs.
BMW Business CD53 Units manufactured and dispatched for the USA E46 cars from 1998 to 2007 with their respective Part Number, Production Period, and what each unit is capable of :
1998 to 2001 E46 3 Series vehicles
Blaupunkt, Part Number 6512-6 909 883 iPod Data Capable
Blaupunkt, Part Number 6512-6 909 882 iPod Data Capable
Blaupunkt, Part Number 6512-6 902 661 iPod Data Capable
NOTE: iPod Data Capable is ONLY if the car is Prewired in the trunk for the CD Changer - You can also add Aux Input ONLY thru an iPod Data Kit like the USA Spec PA12 or the DICE iPod kits
2001 to 2007 E46 3 Series vehicles including the E46 M3
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 916 241 (July 2001) iPod Data Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 915 711 (Sep 2001) Ipod Data Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 919 072 (Dec 2001-Jun 2002)iPod Data, Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 921 963 (July 2002-Jan 2003)iPod Data, Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 927 902 (Feb 2003-Aug 2003)iPod Data, Aux and Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 10-6 927 903 (RMFD thru Dec 2006) iPod Data, Aux and Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 941 505 (Jan 2004 - Sept 2004) iPod Data, Aux and Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 941 506 (RMFD thru Dec 2007) iPod Data, Aux and Sirius Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 943 429 (Oct 2004 -Sept 2005) iPod Data, Aux, Sirius and MP3 Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 943 430 (RMFD thru 2008) iPod Data, Aux, Sirius and MP3 Capable
Alpine, Model CD53, Part Number 65. 12-6 961 215 (Dec 2005-May 2006) iPod Data, Aux, Sirius and MP3 Capable
NOTE: RMFD = Re-manufactured/Refurbished.
If you find any BMW Business CD53 Radio Unit with a production year date sticker on it that is later than these production dates corresponding to each part number unit (IE. a year date that is 05, 06, 07, 08) it is most certain that those units are re-manufactured/refurbished (RFMD) under warranty and re-labeled to reflect the date of re-manufacture. This is especially true for the factory recalled MP3-capable BMW Part Number 65. 12-6 943 429 unit which is always re-labeled to become BMW Part Number 65. 12-6 943 430 after refurbishment.
From that information we see that only three
possible BMW Business CD53 Radio Parts Number for the E46 cars has MP3 playback (along with Sirius Integration and Aux-In Data function)
Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429
and it's Re-manufactured/Refurbished counterpart CD53 units with Part Number 65.12-6 943 430
. The BMW Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429 CD53s were plagued with problems and there was a factory recall of these units at one point of their hectic production lifespan hence why you come across many BMW Part Number: 65.12-6 943 430 CD53s on eBay today. These 430 units are Re-manufactured/Refurbished versions of the original Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429 Business CD53 Radios even though the sellers of these units either don't know this or won't mention that to you if they do.
Part Number: 65.12-6 961 215
will also give your car MP3 playback ability. These were superior post stock original production units that were made on the last production E46 coupes, convertibles and M3 cars from late 2005 until late 2006/ 2007. If you come across one of these on eBay for under $300 then immediately buy it! These will give you the full capacity and digital function of all the previous CD53 Radios including MP3 playback and it lacks the refurbished and buggy history that the Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429 units come with.
The way the parts number work is that when a said unit gets re-manufactured or refurbished BMW changed the parts number by one up from the original number so say if my parts number unit 65-12-6-943-429 got sent back to the dealership and got refurbished. BMW would restock the same said unit after refurbishment with a parts number of 65-12-6-943-430.
The parts number last three digits increases by 1. So 429 becomes 430 or a P/N 65. 12-6 941 505 radio would now become P/N 65. 12-6 941 506 after refurbishment.
Which is why when you browse REALOEM you will see a lot of strange new P/N come up and some common P/N are not there for the Alpine Business CD53 Radios.
It is possible to find a refurbished P/N with a really late production date like say Dec 2007 or May 2008. Because of this the Production Date of the later years CD53 will tell you little information on what that CD53 unit is capable of. You will need the Parts Number to find out the true identity of that CD53 unit.
They are lots of sellers that try to bump up the price of their Re-manufactured/Re-furbished Part Number: 65.12-6 943 430 units because they will tell you it has a late production date like NOV 05 or something like JAN 07 and the quality or newness is better.
This is to rope you into buying a refurbished unit for more money than those units are actually worth relative to the original Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429 units (which can come with bugs and can be pretty much something you may want to avoid).
I would try to seek out a Part Number: 65.12-6 961 215 unit where ever you decide to buy your unit from.
Even if it a BMW Dealership make sure you ask for the Part Number: 65.12-6 961 215 unit since they may charge you the same price as a 65.12-6 943 430 unit of over $1,000 for it.
Here are some pictures of the Alpine Business CD53 Part Number: 65.12-6 961 215 Radio and the label location where the P/N and Production Date are;
Here is another pristine unit made in May 2006:
In these pictures below you will see how this slick eBay seller tries to peel away the Remanufactured Parts# sticker to reveal the original Parts# beneath so that he can bump up the price. He is selling his units for $309 and $319 based on the prod dates of NOV 04 and FEB 05 respectively claiming the later build date deserves the price increase when both of these units are most likely refurbished versions of their bug ridden/factory recalled Part Number: 65.12-6 943 429 original units. Not all 429 units went bad. Those that did, went bad early on and already got refurbished to factory new and replaced as 430 units. So buying a 429 unit today will be perfectly okay.
A general rule of thumb for visually inspecting if the unit has MP3 digital capabilities is that the Business CD53 Radio that play MP3 files usually has the black trim along the same side as the pin17 connector-input that is in the back.
And it should ALWAYS be an Alpine-made unit that has the MODE button in the place of the older Blaupunkt CD button under the AM/FM buttons.