Thursday, February 14, 2008

BMW Service Bulletin for Instrument Cluster Change on BMW Imports from the US

Submitted by a UCanImport Subscriber

Please review this bulletin and let us know if these conversions are truly required to meet Canadian Safety Standards or are just being implemented to slow down imports of BMW. Costs for the instrument cluster change can run up to $2,500 or more.

If you can shed some light on why these changes were implemented post-Nov 26, 2007, we would be very interested.

This Service Information bulletin supersedes SI 00 80 07 dated November 2007.

Vehicle conversion – USA to Canada

BMW and MINI models


BMW and MINI vehicles are built to operate correctly and to meet safety requirements in their respective markets. In Canada some of these important requirements that differentiate USA to Canadian cars are related to Daytime Running Lights (DRL), different instrumentation, hardware and software components.

The high sophistication of components involves a large amount of interactions and interdependencies between the fitted control units of a vehicle. This highlights the importance of carrying out a proper USA-Canada conversion as recommended by BMW AG, which not only ensures compliance of the systems, but also ensures the correct operation and interaction of all control units.

While some features can be modified by means of software which might appear to fulfill Canadian compliance and technical requirements for a correctly functioning vehicle, they do not. This type of modification is not suitable for correct functioning of the Daytime Running Lights and therefore cannot ensure compliance.

BMW Group does not support hard-wiring of Daytime Running Lights due to the complexity of the vehicle electronics.

On certain USA vehicles, depending on model, production date and specification, it is possible to have the Daytime Running Lights turned on by means of:

• The Personal Profile feature which allows the driver to switch the DRL function on and off from within the car using either the Controller (i-Drive) or Instrument Cluster functions. Turning on the DRL via the Controller or Instrument Cluster does NOT constitute

• The Car Key Memory (CKM) functions. This feature was designed for USA vehicles only. Therefore operation and illumination brightness varies depending on the production date of the vehicle or software level of the relevant module. To ensure correct operation to Canadian specification, CKM must NOT be used as an alternative to performing the correct USA – Canada conversion.

Depending on the model, the vehicle technology can be divided into two categories:
• Vehicles with an I-Level: E60/E61, E63/E64, E65/E66, E70, E90/E91/E92/E93, R56
• Vehicles without an I-Level: E46, E53, E83, E85/86, R50/R52/R53
Vehicles with an I-Level (Software Integration Level)
Situation for E60/E61, E63/E64, E65/E66, E70, E90/E91/E92/E93, R56 models

These models use Integration Software technology, usually referred to as an I-Level, which basically means all control modules fitted to a car have to be compatible with each other in order to function correctly – they have to be at the correct I-Level.

Canadian specification vehicles are built with km/h Instrument Cluster, which is written into the Vehicle Order, which is the “fingerprint” of the car, and this determines how all control units fitted to a vehicle interact. Therefore, for a car to be correctly converted for use in Canada it should have a km/h Instrument Cluster fitted and the relevant Vehicle Order modification carried out using the BMW Diagnostic and Programming equipment within the retailer workshop.

Using this correct process ensures the Daytime Driving Lights function as Canadian specification requires, and any future programming updates can be carried out without problems. If the correct process is not followed this invariably results in customer inconvenience, non-warrantable costs and potentially a non-compliant vehicle.

Another benefit from using the correct procedure for converting cars from USA to Canada is that technical support will be provided to assist with the conversion.

Note: Technical support may not be provided for programming, coding or diagnosis issues related to a vehicle not converted using the recommended procedure.

When carrying out the USA to Canada conversion using the BMW Diagnostic and Programming equipment the technician is instructed to replace the Instrument Cluster (Kombi) and on E60/61/63/64 models the Heater Control Module (IHKA), before the conversion can be carried out.

This is due to the I-Level needing the correct control module for operation within the vehicle electronics network and therefore cannot be worked around without replacing the specific part. Note: The USA R56 models only have a MPH display, km/h marking are required, so the Instrument Cluster (speedometer) should be replaced with the Canadian km/h version.

Vehicles without an I-Level (Software Integration Level)
Situation for BMW E46, E53, E83, E85/E86, R50/R52/R53
For vehicles without an Integration Level, the control modules infrastructure does not have the same inter-dependencies based on Software and Hardware. Therefore, the Instrument Cluster does not need to be replaced, except for the R50/R52/R53 – see note.

The Progman procedure must be followed to ensure the Canadian specific options are compliant and included in the Vehicle Order or Central Encoding Key (ZCS).
Note: R50/R52/R53 models require a replacement Instrument Cluster and Rev Counter due to the location of several warning lights causing incorrect illumination or not lighting at all, such as the Fasten Seatbelt light.

USA to Canada conversion (status as of 11/2007):

Models Parts required Tech Dept assist Other work required
E46 No No – Progman OK CKM for other settings
E53 No No – Progman OK CKM for other settings
E60/E61,Kombi No - Progman OK i-Drive for other settings
E63/E64 and IHKAN
E65/E66 Kombi No – Progman OK i-Drive for other settings
E70 Kombi Yes – modified VO i-Drive for other settings
E83 No Yes – modified VO CKM for other settings
E85/E86 No Yes – modified VO CKM for other settings
E90/E91/E92/E93 Kombi No – Progman OK Kombi / i-Drive for other settings
R50/R52/R53 Kombi and Rev counter No – Progman OK CKM for other settings
R56* Kombi Yes – modified VO Kombi / i-Drive for other settings

*Note: The USA R56 models only have a MPH display, km/h marking are required, so the Instrument Cluster (speedometer) should be replaced with the Canadian km/h version.

Progman: Diagnostic and Programming software for SSS
CKM: Car Key Memory
VO: Vehicle Order
Other settings: Temperature display, Board Computer display, mileage display
Kombi: Instrument Cluster


Dennis said...

That's correct. BMW dealers are using this procedure to extort your money. I have my E60 DRL programmed by the US dealer but then the dealer here say that's not good enough. It costs $3000 to change the cluster and heater control unit to turn on the DRL again. In simply, they say:

- even the DRL is working, I will disconnect it but I will reconnect it as it works better.

These people are trying to make your life difficult.

I hope the lawsuit against TC and BMW Canada will prevail.

Anonymous said...

So what does the above mean. I cannot decipher because the break down list of parts required seems like some kind of Spread sheet copy past job.

Does this mean that the E90 (3 series 06-08)and E92 requires "kombi"/Instrument cluster conversion to be imported or not. Because this just say's KOMBI NO??

chokolat said...

Just imported a 2004 745i and have to purchase a $1600 new instrument cluster to abide by BMW Canada's daytime running light extortion ploy. In addition, dealers want to charge $650 for reprogramming when you can find BMW service specialists who will do it $150-200. Never mind that the current instrument panel is A-OK and that daytime running lights can be programmed. What a joke. Shame on BMW.


Here is the info you were seeking.

Models - E90/E91/E92/E93
Parts required - Kombi
Tech Dept assist - No – Progman OK
Other work required - Kombi / i-Drive for other settings

Please send me an e-mail to and I will send you the PDF file.

Anonymous said...

I have just imported a BMW X 5
The dealer tells me they will need to keep the vehicle for a min. of 48 hours to check the vehicle and issue a form for RIV Canada .including a recall clearance letter.
Anyone know what they will be doing for a min of 48 hours ?


Thanks for your post. Please ask the dealership to give you a quote or at the very least, an estimate, before you take your vehicle in.

From the reports we have received, the vehicle will have to undergo an instrument cluster change and perhaps a heater module change. These two modifications run in the range of $2,500 to $3,500.

If your dealership will not provide a quote, telephone BMW Canada and ask them what modifications will be required on your vehicle. Then telephone the dealership and have them quote you for those modifications indicated by BMW Canada.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2003 325 which is a E46? I am pretty confident that the Ins. Cluster don't need to be changed. I talked to a dealer a few times and basically it was for a couple hours of labor. Then all of a sudden, I brought Up " Oh, is it easier to sell if the car was with the metric reading" then he came back and tells me "the instrument cluster need to be changed as well as the programming. etc etc etc. then i stopped thinking about this whole ting about brinign the car over.... god knows what else they will do to rob you.

just want to make sure............ 325i 2003 IC does not need to be changed for DTRL to work?



Thank you for your post. What a frustrating and convoluted experience for you.

As you say, BMW is capable of changing its mind on the fly making it virtually impossible to predict the expenses that you may have to incur on your importation.

Ideally, importers should get a warranty printout from the US dealer and avoid all the hassles at the local dealership. The dealership in Canada can force you into enormous cash outlays if they believe that you are relying on them to provide compliance information for RIV. Folks who have the warranty printout have a much better chance of only paying for required modifications and avoiding any surprise cash grabs.

We wish all importers success on their BMW importation projects. Remember, that we can help you navigate this process should you wish.

Anonymous said...


I am also importing a BMW, my 2007 335i. I've been searching the Internet reading posts, and have also provided the lawyers handling the class action with my name and contact information so I can join the suit.
I came across a posting on a message board that stated we can program the DRLs ourselves based upon the directions in the instruction manual, though I don't think this is correct because although we can do this, we can also undo this... and the point of the DRL to have it set in such a way that the consume cannot turn the DRLs off at all. Am I overlooking anything? Is there a way for us to do it ourselves?



Thanks for your post Sam.

There are a number of BMW models that offer the capability of DRL activation, and while this seems to be an acceptable practice for the Federal Inspection process, the gurus at BMW insist that one of their shops/dealers performs this activation for you.

The bottom line comes down to the warranty. If you have any remaining warranty on the vehicle and would like to see it honoured in Canada, then you will have to have the DRL modification, instrument cluster modification as well as the heater module conversion (for some models)performed at a BMW dealership in Canada at a cost of about $3000.

And as a final payment, expect to fork over an additional $500 if you need a recall clearance letter.

Some interesting news for BMW importers:

A BMW importer has advised us of the following shop that will obtain recall letters for a $400 flat fee. Email for more information.

Anonymous said...

I imported a 2001 BMW 325 Coupe. Canadian Tire said that they could activate the DLR but I didn't trust them. The BMW ripoff charge for a 10 min. excercise was $105.
I bought the car privately in the US but I made it part of the deal that the seller obtain the recall letter. He called the dealership where he had bought the car , they faxed me the recall letter and also mailed me a copy at no expense.
I called the dealership to say thanks and they told me it was no problem,it only took a minute and were pleased to be of assistance. They just need a VIN and they can print it off.

The message is, have the owner get the recall letter.
Or if the car has been regularly serviced at a US dealership and you talk nicely to them they will probably provide the letter at no cost.
There are two reasons BMW Canada charges $500 1-because they can't go anywhere else and 2-they are pissed of about people buying cars from out of the country.

Anonymous said...

Just cut/disconnect the wire to the "off" switch on the dashboard. Now you can't turn off your DRL. That's what I did when I was getting all the hassle from the RIV inspection. No problem getting approved after that. Keep it simple.

avidhockeymom said...

I just purchased a 2006 BMW 325xi in the US and have just spoken with the Canadian BMW dealership in regards to a recall letter and am in shock as to the cost. They mentioned we have to change the instrument cluster to km and have the change the DRL to Canadian standards, and then they contact BMW for the recall letter and when everything is said and done he quoted me a cost of $4000. plus taxes. To me that is really retarded, we have purchased many vehicles from the US and have never had this much problems. Does anyone know of a cheaper way of getting these mods done, like if I get them through my own bodyshop? They also mentioned that the letter could take up to 10 days. I have read in the past blogs that people were mentioning something about depends what type of model BMW you have depends on what actual mods you need, mine is E90? Can someone please help with this. Thanks


Your warranty is about to expire on this vehicle, so our advice is simply to bypass the BMW charges and register the vehicle in Canada without that extra headache.

The instrument cluster modification is not required by Transport Canada, so there's no real reason to that work done.

However, if you did not read our publication or follow the advice in this blog to obtain the Warranty Report PRIOR to importation, then unfortunately you find yourself at the mercy of the BMW dealership in Canada.

You should read this posting for some additional help from a fellow importer -

Dennis said...

Avidhockeymom, you should have got a recall clearance printout from your US dealer and also ask them to activate the DRL for you. When I bought my 530xi 2 years ago, BMW canada gave me the same kind of nuisance even though I had done the above. Now I heard that you can get around with it and get the form from RIV without the co-operation of BMW Canada. Better check with RIV if they can release the form once you get the above.

Call the nearest US dealer if they can do this.