Keyless Entry

Written by Johan735
Document history:

# 22 Apr 2005 - Added remak about the newer factory locking system
# 22 Jan 2005 - Added picture and comment about the blue plug
# 28 Sep 2004 - Initial version

Preface: There is just no way you will be locking your E32 with a key is there? OK so they all have a heated doorlock? So what?!? We all want keyless entry! Most E32s came from the factory with an infrared remote control system. But somehow the remote never goes with the car when it's sold. So this could be a very simple retrofit. Have a look under "installing the factory ir system" to see if it's aleady installed in your car.

If you don't have the factory system or you are missing the remote you are left with two choises: the factory IR system or an aftermaket system. Offcourse the factory system supports deadlocking, comfort closing, DWA activation and it turns on the interior lights when the car is unlocked. Just in case you are wondering deadlocking is a mechanism where you can't open the car with the doorpins anymore and comfort closing closes the windows and sunroof when keeping the key or remote in the locking state.

Installing an aftermarket remote system: So you're a cheapskate huh? I bet you got one of these under 50 euro remote controls...well so did I! These systems need power, a place to tap into the lock and unlock wires and a way to activate the indicators. Offcourse you want to keep your car so deadlocking isn't a bad idea and while you are soldering under the module carrier you might aswell activate the interior lights.

All the wires you need for locking and unlocking are connected to the generalmodule plug X255 for normal humans that's the yellow plug of the GM. The e32 needs a positive pulse on the lock or unlock signal wires for activation.
Functionpin nr. on X255wire colour
Doorhandle switch
Light activation
Detection lock7WS/RT/GE
Detection unlock16BL/RT/GE

Offcourse there are alternitives to pin 7 and 16. But I found using these pins works. You can also tap into the wiring in the trunk but this makes deadlocking with the remote imposible.

I guess you will be able to find +12v and GND yourself. If not look to the left while installing the wiring into the GM plug ;-) Don't forget to put a fuse inline with the power supply just in case.

indicators: To activate the indicators you can tap into the wiring for the rear indicators. These run very close to the electronics box under the rear seat. The wires you need are: BL/GN for the left and BL/BR for the right.

To deadlock the car you will have to use a clever way to activate the lock and unlock pulse at the same time. Connecting both lock and unlock to the lock activation of the remote box will leave you with a deadlocked car AT ALL TIMES (trust me I locked myself in the car this wayi :-) ). So to work around this you can best use a set of diodes. You will need two to keep the locking by key unaffected.

I used two 1N5400 diodes soldered into the wiring of the keyless entry controlbox. I covered the diodes with shrikwrap to avoid shorts.

Some GMs behave strangely to oposing signals (lock+unlock). If this applies to your car it can't be deadlocked this way. More on the ZKE can be read here under ZKE

Interior light activation: For the interior lights to go on you will need to pull pin 2 of X255 to ground. This is normally done by the IR-remote locking system or by lifting the driverside doorhandle. The easiest way is to install another diode and a relais as following:

Installing the factory IR-remote: If you are somewhat of an ebayer you might be able to get your hands on an original set for 35 to 120 euro. The original set includes: an antitheft LED with support for programming the remote, the control unit that goes under the backseat and the receiver next to the interior lighting or sunroof switch (if installed).

All E32s upto 10/92 with a factory alarm have the wiring installed. Some even have the entire IR locking system. But most cars lack the cool switchblade remote. The previous owner probably kept this as a souvenir of BMW ownership. First check if you have the receiver mounted. It's the black button that isn't a button near the interior lights:

Image by Q of the Roadfly e32 forum

Or if you don't have a sunroof:

If you do have the receiver that's good news. You will just need the remote. Good news usually comes with bad news. As it does in this case. A new switchblade remote costs over 120 euro from the dealer. If you don't have the receiver don't worry yet. Check the module holder under the rear seat to see if the blue conenctor is there. If it is you have all the wiring. You just have to plug in the various components and you are done. No soldering or worring about wiring.

Image by Acro_d of the UKe32Register
Now if you have this plug push in the module, replace the DWA led with the IR+DWA led and place the receiver in the roof. Easy enough I'd say.

I've received a lot of questions regarding the plugs. It seems all cars have a blue plug with two wires under the air grill. Too bad this plug won't do. There needs to be a plug with 4 wires.

Now if you're unlucky like me you don't have the wiring. The easy way to go is install an aftermarket remote. But that just didn't seem right to me. OK, so I did use one for the first three years but NO MORE. Installing the wiring semmed like an imposible job. But afterter winning a set on ebay I decided to have a go. The seller was nice enough to send the connectors along with the IR components.

First I checked out the pin out of the connectors in the "Pruefanleitung Fahrzeugelektrik". Then I traced them to an existing point in the wiring. The pin layout of the various connectors is on a seperate page. Most (if not all) wire connections turned out to be combining the wires with the same colour coding.

As you can see in the picture with the connectors I grouped the wires on the control unit into a coupe of groups: receiver, programming LED, diagnosis (I won't connect these), GM/DWA conenctions (lock, unlock, lights on, antitheft) and power connections.

The receiver and programming LED are prettty straight forward as are the GM/DWA wires. Just tap into the wires with the same colour. The thing that had me worried the most is the power wires. There are a total of three power wires. One to +12v constant, one to +12v in ACC/RUN/START and one to +12v in RUN/START. The constant +12v makes sense, the one in ACC/RUN/START turns on the programming mode in ACC position and the RUN/START disables the system. The only thing now is where to get them from ;-)

Pin 9 of x255 on the GM is hot in RUN/START and it even has the same colour coding. So that's one. The second was kind of hard. The diagram claimed it was a different colour then on the plug I got from a 1988 750i. Mine was violet/white. Same colour as the diagnostic line. So time to watch out. I wanted to connect it to the GM x255 pin 19. But again my car and the wiring diagram had a little difference of opinion. I found a violet white wire going to a mystery plug in the module holder right next to the GM. My trusty multimeter told me it was hot in ACC/RUN/START so this had to be a correct wire.

Now since you don't have the wiring you will have to make a wiring loom yourself. You will need about 14 meters of wiring to nicely install the receiver and programming led in a short wheel base e32.

If you remove the interior lights you can feel the location the receiver should be. This location is pre marked on the roof liner. Cut out this rectangle with a stanley knife.

I ran the wiring to the receiver under the headliner to the back. So I had to remove the A/B/C pilair covers, the driverside sun visor and the front and rear roofhandles.

The wiring to the fresh air grill I put under the carpet. So I had to remove the door sills, the plastic covers, the speaker kick panel and driverside trim/glovebox. You will have to replace the standard grill if you don't have a place to put the LED. Keep in mind that early cars do not have the vents in the center gril. My prehistoric e32 does have them as I replaced the entire interior of my car at some point. Now if you are on the lazy side install the LED under the backseat. You will only need to program the remote once every battery set anyway.

Now you've got all the wiring running to the back seat it's time to get your soldering iron and shrinkwrap out. If you want to back out now is the time!
To get proper access to the yellow x255 plug it's best to remove some of the connectors from the module holder. Now cut, solder and shrinkwrap all the wiring into their place as mentioned on the pin layout page.

When you are all done it should look something like this:

If you know what the plug in the location next to the GM is for please tell me!!

Now program the remote as described in the "programming the IR remote" section. Now what amazed me most is that it worked on the first go. Absolutly amazing! This never happend to me before :-). So no extra time finding where I messed up!

Programming the IR remote:
To reprogram a new IR remote or your old one after replacing the bateries:
1. Turn the ignition to position 2.
2. Hold the IR transmitter on the DWA led in the center of the fresh air grill.
3. Press button 1 untill the transmitter LED begins to flash (after about 2 seconds). If button 1 doesn't work try button 2.
Within 15 minutes any other remotes to be used with the car must be initialised. There is a max of 4 remotes.

Checking if your IR remote funtions:
If you are doubting wheter your IR remote is working try holding the remote about 10 mm from a reflecting surface. A mirror should do just fine. Push the open button. After the intervall blinking the LED will remain on. Now try holding the remote close to a non reflecting surface. Press the open button. Now the LED should go off after the intervall blinking.
Trick send in by Erich

New style E32 remote key
Starting 10/92 the e32 received a new type remote locking with the remote more elegantly intergrated into the key:

Theoretically it should be possible to retrofit this system to any E32 aswel. If you are thinking of undertaking this you will need the key and the interior mirror. The mirror has the control unit, the receiver and the antitheft LED build into it. As I haven't looked into this installation I don't have any more information on it.

Story by Johan735.

If you would like to add any comments, remarks and/or corrections to this procedure, feel free to email Mike Oswald and we'll put it on our site. Share your experiences with us so others may benefit from it.