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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-23-2011, 06:29 PM   #1
delmarco
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Cool BMW E46 12 Button Auto On-Off Climate Control HVAC Retrofit Pictorial DIY

Upgrade your Old Style 10 Button Climate Control Unit to the new style Automatic Auto On-Off 12 Button Climate Control

Starting during the production month/year of 03/2003 BMW redesigned the Automatic HVAC Climate Control in the E46 BMW 3 Series cabin. The new style 12 Button units are plug and play swappable with the older style 10 Button units and will replace the older units completely.

If your 1998 to 03/2003 BMW E46 was bought secondhand and came with a new style unit this means that the original HVAC unit was replaced with a new style unit by the previous owner or if you find your 03/2003 on BMW E46 has the older unit then the same maybe true for you and the previous owner replaced the newer unit with an older style unit for whatever reasons.


VIDEO THREE: Comparing Physical Design of 10 and 12 Button Units.


VIDEO FOUR: Showing New 12 button style Climate Control.




Main Reasons to do this upgrade:

1. Aesthetics of button layout on new style units make more visual and functional sense.

Older 10 Button Style:




Newer 12 Button Style:



2. Due to the MUCH smaller footprint that the new style climate control uses in the radio/dash area cavity those looking to free up space for Navigation Retrofits, Dynavin and other wire-intensive double din projects will find lots more free space behind the dash with a new style control than the bulky older style.








3. It may add the Auto-Turn-On feature that the newer HVAC Climate Control have to your car. So when you enter the car the Climate Control will turn on by itself and automatically regulate the cabin temperature.

4. It is a relatively cheap upgrade. I got my new style unit in the forums classified for around $25 and you can find the new 12 button units on eBay from $10 and up for a good condition used one. Plus the DIY requires a basic screw driver, little car knowledge and takes minutes to complete.

Parts Number for new unit that I retrofitted into my car:


Parts Number for old unit that was in my car:



Parts Number with Production Date Guide for ALL YEARS E46 HVAC Units:






Everything you will need for the DIY:





Here are the basic steps to insure your installation goes as plan:


WARNING:
Before you proceed to disconnect the HVAC unit make sure that you unplug the battery or else the new unit will not work properly (don't ask how I found this out - lol ).






PART 1:

VIDEO ONE: Showing Old 10 button style Climate Control


VIDEO TWO: Showing New 12 button Style Pre-DIY.



Last edited by delmarco; 02-24-2011 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:29 PM   #2
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If your car has the regular BMW E46 Business CD53 or Cassette Radio then the removal of the old HVAC will be as shown below.
Follow these steps:












You do not have to remove the upper vent-this picture below was borrowed from my Radio upgrade DIY thread. Again you DO NOT have to remove the upper vent for this HVAC upgrade DIY:





If you have an in-dash factory navigation or double din unit then the removal of your old E46 HVAC will be different. Follow these steps below:

















Last edited by delmarco; 02-23-2011 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:58 PM   #3
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PART 2:

















PART 3:





When said and done:

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Old 02-24-2011, 06:30 AM   #4
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Superb work as ever, I like the use of pictures from other DIY's !!!
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:10 PM   #5
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Fantastic DIY!

I have a stupid question...My car does not have either style of climate control. Would it be a plug & play swap for me to add a climate control unit to my 2001 325ci?
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colossus View Post
Fantastic DIY!

I have a stupid question...My car does not have either style of climate control. Would it be a plug & play swap for me to add a climate control unit to my 2001 325ci?
hey Colossus,
You would need to buy the retrofit kit and a believe code the car to accept the automatic HVAC.

SNA77 is the only person I know that did this DIY years ago.

I will ask him for you.

EDIT:

Yeah you will need the kit:

BMW P/N
Conversion kit part #64500029507 Price $342.00

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...66&hg=64&fg=95

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Last edited by delmarco; 02-24-2011 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:40 PM   #7
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Wow! Thanks for the info, but that's a little too much money.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:47 PM   #8
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Yea, the climate contol retrofit not only requires that fairly expensive kit, but it also requires an immense amount of labor. Probably not worth the cost
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:14 AM   #9
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Hi delmarco,

about the mystery with auto-ON function of the Climate Control HVAC I think I may give some info, which will make this question more clear. I'm pretty much (99%) sure that this function can be turned ON or OFF by coding the car, because on my 6/'98 E46 the HVAC is old 10-button style, but I have the auto-ON function. The unit itself has memory to store its current condition and when you turn the car OFF the last settings are stored. Again when you (I think) put the key in position 2 the HVAC resumes all the settings stored, BUT only if the car is coded to do so, which I think it may was as an option to premium or other package or just an option, but not a default factory coded state of the HVAC unit. I can't tell if the newer style units are factory enabled for this function or not, but I believe that both old and new style HVAC can be coded to auto-resume last stored settings. Also I believe that this coding is made in the HVAC and not in the GM and that is why, when you swap the unit it still has this function.
I have a DIS and have looked in these coding features and there few more settings, which I don't remember right now, but if there is an interest what they are and how they can be enabled I can check and post later more exact info.

The only thing that bothers me a lot is that the HVAC ALWAYS turns on with the key in position 2. It doesn't matter if you had it turned off completely or not before turning the ignition off. So simply if you every time turn the HVAC/blower off completely and then turn the ignition off - you will always have it auto-ON with all last stored settings, except the blower, which will be on minimum (and if I remember correctly "auto" button will be off too).
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielle View Post


The only thing that bothers me a lot is that the HVAC ALWAYS turns on with the key in position 2. It doesn't matter if you had it turned off completely or not before turning the ignition off. So simply if you every time turn the HVAC/blower off completely and then turn the ignition off - you will always have it auto-ON with all last stored settings, except the blower, which will be on minimum (and if I remember correctly "auto" button will be off too).
This, funny enough, is how I came to discovered the auto feature. Someone started a thread complaining about this happening. Little did anyone of us know then that is was an actual feature and not a fault of the HVAC.
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:54 PM   #11
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This, funny enough, is how I came to discovered the auto feature. Someone started a thread complaining about this happening. Little did anyone of us know then that is was an actual feature and not a fault of the HVAC.

I have replaced the old 10-button unit with the 12-button unit and both units are staying off when I turn the key to position 2 or start the car. I need to manually turn the HVAC on.

So, I think too you can code this option or maybe because my car is Euro spec.
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Old 06-25-2011, 06:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E46-Cabrio View Post
I have replaced the old 10-button unit with the 12-button unit and both units are staying off when I turn the key to position 2 or start the car. I need to manually turn the HVAC on.

So, I think too you can code this option or maybe because my car is Euro spec.
The car must be coded for the auto-ON feature, it doesn't matter if it is US or Euro, mine is also Euro (German to be more concrete) and it had this feature enabled already when I bought it. I just enabled the flaps memory (air recirculation) too via GT1.

Here is a PDF document with car and key memory settings and features, which could be set/coded via GT1/DIS:

http://www.e38.org/B090398_Att2_CKMSet.PDF
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Old 06-25-2011, 07:27 AM   #13
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Definitely a codable feature. The climate control in my car stays off if I manually turned it off, and turns on with the ignition if I left it on. It can be coded so that it always comes on no matter what the previous state was.
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Old 06-25-2011, 11:18 AM   #14
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yeah - this was also a question - of whether it was the car that needed to be coded or getting the actual HVAC unit that carries the feature. I think it was indeed Terra that discovered it was the coding in car and not the actual unit itself that allowed for auto on/off or auto on or no auto at all.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:21 AM   #15
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So if I want to disable the HVAC from automatically starting when I turn the car on I need a GT1/DIS tool? Can it be done with the PA Soft 1.4?
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:01 AM   #16
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So if I want to disable the HVAC from automatically starting when I turn the car on I need a GT1/DIS tool? Can it be done with the PA Soft 1.4?
I haven't used/seen PA Soft and can't tell, sorry. If it is capable of coding the car at all, maybe it would be possible.


Quote:
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yeah - this was also a question - of whether it was the car that needed to be coded or getting the actual HVAC unit that carries the feature. I think it was indeed Terra that discovered it was the coding in car and not the actual unit itself that allowed for auto on/off or auto on or no auto at all.
Hi Del,

Yesterday I've got a faulty (locking/unlocking relays are failing) GM and I could connect it to my car and code it to disable the Auto-On HVAC feature and then I'll connect back my current one. So if the feature is stored in the HVAC it self it should be disabled with both GMs (my current one has Aout-On), and if not and it is stored in the GM - I should have Auto-On depending on which GM is connected to the car. I can confirm this in the next few days.
But I'm more interested in how the car is coded (or is it in the hardware of the HVAC) of these fanatics that have Auto-On on starting the car when the car was turned off with HVAC ON and have the HVAC OFF on starting with car turned off when the HVAC was also OFF...
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:47 PM   #17
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AC Climate control upgrade

I see here there are many that say it is not necessary to take the car to the stealer to have it programmed for the new 12 button HAVC control.
I went to a local mechanic to have this install done and he told me I had to go to the stealer because he could not program it?!
Now I am looking to DIY but want to know is it truly necessary to have this programmed??!!
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Old 03-16-2012, 01:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I see here there are many that say it is not necessary to take the car to the stealer to have it programmed for the new 12 button HAVC control.
I went to a local mechanic to have this install done and he told me I had to go to the stealer because he could not program it?!
Now I am looking to DIY but want to know is it truly necessary to have this programmed??!!
no it is not. you do not need to program the car.
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:38 AM   #19
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I have a manual dial air conditioner control knobs...... can i switch it over to a digital system?
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:12 AM   #20
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I have a manual dial air conditioner control knobs...... can i switch it over to a digital system?
yeah..but you need to buy the retrofit kit.

I believe SNA77 did this a few years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco View Post
hey Colossus,
You would need to buy the retrofit kit and a believe code the car to accept the automatic HVAC.

SNA77 is the only person I know that did this DIY years ago.

I will ask him for you.

EDIT:

Yeah you will need the kit:

BMW P/N
Conversion kit part #64500029507 Price $342.00

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...66&hg=64&fg=95

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Last edited by delmarco; 03-28-2013 at 12:12 AM.
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