Monday, June 5, 2017

Trailer Hitch

The trailer hitch options for the car range from inexpensive (the route I took) to very expensive.  It's a shame the car didn't come with factory trailer hitch standard, let alone options, as I think most of us have trailering needs at least occasionally.  Personally, we have very limited applications.  If I trailered a lot, I might consider Invisihitch options.

At any rate, this is the route I took.  I bought a Draw Tite hitch and a 4-prong harness from  This hitch fits the stock 2016 car perfectly and requires no cutting of the bumper.  The 4-prong harness will get the job done, but unlike Invisihitch/OEM kits, it does not disable the rear park distance control and offer other cool camera options.  You have to disable PDC manually.

The install was straightforward but tedious.  The video instructions from eTrailer are very good, but there are a LOT of plastic clips on the F15.  I took some pictures of the rear bumper cover removed so maybe you can get a better idea of where they are.  You need to take your time with this mod in order to not scratch or mar the car.

I have owned a Draw Tite hitch before.  And, while they come nicely powder coated or painted, they do tend to rust after many years.  To add some protection for this one, I roughed the surface with 0000 steel wool and added a coat of semi gloss Rustoleum paint to this one.  Hopefully that will help some.  I found the best price for the hitch on Amazon that particular day.  Amazon shipped the hitch basically unboxed with a shipping label on it.  It arrived seriously scratched.  I complained and asked for a replacement, the replacement came in a box and was properly wrapped.

For the wiring, I ran my wires out of the car on the right/passenger side, by modifying an unused grommet and sealing it with black RTV silicone.  This way the trailer harness is available by the hitch, and we don't have to do the "close the harness while it is sticking out of the tailgate" thing.  It's a little more factory-like.  I did have to cut the eTrailer harness to do this, but my solder and heat shrink connections are all inside the vehicle and not out in the elements.  The F15 uses modulated signals for brake and tail lights, so you only connect 1 trailer harness wire to the car for both and the eTrailer wire harness module can figure out if the signal is for tail lights or brake lights.

Draw Tite 75600 Hitch Class III 2" receiver, $171.58r
eTrailer 119190KIT 4-prong wire harness from, $75.95r

Total cost of this mod = $247.53
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4733.53

Black RTV inside and outside of this grommet

I mounted the trailer light controller on the right/passenger side.  It fit nicely into an unused spot.  But, this required extending the wiring to the left/driver's side tail light.

Clips around inner tail light

Center clips

No trimming required.

I didn't use the replacement rivets provided by Draw Tite.  Their heads were much smaller than stock.  I did try to use the original BMW ones (bought new) but my rivet gun could not accomodate metric (I assume) size.  I ended up using some Z3 rivets I had in stock.
These are what BMW uses to hold the wheel arch trim in place.  But, my US-sized pop rivet gun couldn't run them.

Mud Flaps

Installed Original BMW mud flaps, front and rear.  The fronts are tricky if you have running boards (Option 328) like we do.  You basically have to cut the stock mat to fit the running board.  Sort of a pain.  BMW does include a template help you create the cut so it's not a huge deal.  Since accessory installation instructions can be hard to find and/or not supplied with the parts, I am uploading a copy here.  Blogger won't let me host PDF copies, so you will have to page through them one by one, sorry!

I didn't remove any of the wheels to install any of the flaps.  For the fronts, you can turn the steering wheel for access.  For the rears, I had the rear of the car on jackstands to install a trailer hitch, and there was enough room.

Front Mud Flaps, set, BMW 82162302402, $100.00r
Rear Mud Flaps, set, BMW 82162302408, $100.00r

Total Cost of this mod = $200.00r
Total Investment in Vehicle to Date = $4486.00

Here is a shot of the rear flaps installed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Driver's Window Replacement

My wife was driving the car home from work the other day on the local interstate, and an object from what she thinks was the oncoming side of traffic hit her driver's side window.  It shattered the glass.  Only the tint held the glass in place.  Luckily the window was up and luckily the glass didn't shatter inwards onto her.

South Carolina insurance covers all vehicle windows with zero deductible and even covers OEM glass.  So, the glass was replaced with a new piece of OEM BMW.  The local company who did the work was called Clear View Glass, and the service guy (owner?) who did the work was named Jason.  He was a total professional.  He was able to carefully remove the glass almost in one piece, once the door panel was removed from the inside.

Later the same day, my wife had the aftermarket window tint replaced with new.  Theoretically, maybe I could have tried to get insurance to pay for the tint, and they probably would have, but I didn't try.  We had a bad experience with the original tint person we used, so we would never go back there (or recommend him for any work, ever).  So instead, Jason from Clear View suggested the best tint shop in town, Palmetto Tint Shop.  Palmetto doesn't carry the Llumar film we had on the car.  Instead, they sell Huper Optik.  The color match was right on the money and they installed it onto the new window without issue or drama.  Supposedly the Huper Optik is more durable than Llumar and it rejects heat better.  They had a heat lamp demonstration in the showroom and it was obviously better at insulating from heat.  If you go to Palmetto, ask for Brian and tell him X5nut sent you!

Total cost of this mod = $100
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4286.00

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Second Opticoat Video

Blogger would only let me upload one video per post.  Here is a second one showing the Opticoat during a washing.

Youtube Link to Opticoat Pro Plus on X5

Tool Kit

I went back and forth on what tool kit to put into the car.  BMW does sell some decent tool kits (see part number 82292151462, for example) but their kit isn’t very comprehensive for what you get.  Instead, I bought a Proxxon (German made) tool kit.  I had bought Proxxon before from Ride West BMW Motorcycles when we lived in Seattle.  Really nice stuff, on par with Facom or Snap-On.  This time, bought from Amazon.  The kit is kit number “Proxxon 23080 36 Piece Socket Set with 1/4 inch Square Drive” and I paid $64.60 shipped for it from Germany.  The kit doesn’t have everything… I’d like to add a pair of larger pliars (bigger than the Leatherman ones already in the car) and also an adjustable wrench, but it’s a good start.  Fits nicely into the area on the left side of the car near the rear tail light.

Total cost of this mod = $64.60
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4186.00

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More Paint Protection Film and Opticoat Paint Coating

After about 15,400 miles, I wasn’t happy with the rock chips on the hood.  So, we took the car back to Chris Arthur at Arthur’s detailing and added clear paint protection film on the whole hood (no lines) and also small pieces on the front fenders.  Chris installed the film then re-applied Opticoat Pro Plus on top of the film.  I should have done the whole hood when we took the car in the first time.

Total cost of this mod = $400
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4121.40

Here is one of 2 videos of the Opticoat shedding water.  It is amazingly hydrophobic.  Water just sheets off the car and the car seems to stay cleaner longer than anything I have ever seen.  The whole car has Opticoat Pro Plus on it.  Even the black plastic unpainted trim and the wheels and door jambs.  This post was just to show you the hood.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Suspension Airbags Replaced

Shortly after the first service, the rear suspension airbags - on both sides - failed completely.  There were no fault codes.  But, the car was metal-on-metal in the rear and it was obvious.  We had to have the car towed to the dealer again.  The dealer was very nice, they believe they must have cut or scored the airbag material during the fix of the differential leak.  The airbags retail for $398 each.  You can replace them quite easily DIY, all from below the car.  Hopefully you never have to.