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E9x & E8x M3/1M Paddleshift Retrofit DIY for Steptronic Transmission
Published by Spinz
02-09-2014
E9x & E8x M3/1M Paddleshift Retrofit DIY for Steptronic Transmission

BMW E9x & E8x 1M/M3/LCI Msport Paddle Shift Retrofit DIY

Foreword:
1. I know there are already a couple DIY's on here for this but I found them to be difficult to follow, somewhat incomplete requiring you to jump all over the forums to find how to do some parts and felt that I could help the community by creating a complete DIY for this process
2. This DIY is to show you how to add paddle shift to a non paddle shift vehicle. It will not show you how to take a pre-LCI paddle configuration (pull = upshift, push = downshift) and convert it to a LCI configuration (L = downshift R = upshift). It is a much simpler process than doing what I will show you here, search around the forums there are DIY's showing this already.
3. Do this at your own risk - all information posted is for information purposes ONLY.
4. I solder ALL my connections, I despise those stupid plastic clip connectors - if you like those that is fine but this DIY will utilize soldered connections only. I suggest purchasing one (40W pen from princess auto - the one I am using professionally - will run you about $15)
A soldered connection, like a weld when working with metal, when done properly is stronger than the wire itself. This guarantees that the connection will not fail under normal conditions. The last thing you want is it to stop working and you have to tear apart the vehicle to find the one spot where the wires came apart
5. You will need a certain Mechanical and Electrical know how to do this. With that said it is fairly simple once you understand the concept.
6. This DIY is performed on a 2009 BMW 323i, LCI. The wiring colors and specific harness pin outs may be different on your vehicle. Purchase a multimeter ($10 at Canadian Tire), learn how to use it on youtube and TEST all wires before cutting.
7. This DIY is to show how to use L shifter for downshift and R shifter for upshift, the push/pull type will not apply with this set up.
8. Get a buddy to help, even if they just hold a light, help move things into place and collect bolts it will make the install much smoother.
9. What qualifies me for this DIY? I have 5+ years of experience working with vehicles electrical systems and modifying them professionally as well as on my own vehicles, often for custom applications. If you have questions please ask, I will do my best to answer them but there is only so much I will be able to do over the internet.

Step 1: The Concept


First things first - the wiring diagram. I have made this to assist you with completing this mod. This diagram is my personal property and I am giving you full permission to print it and use as needed. If you wish to share it on the internet or otherwise you will need my expressed permission prior to doing so.


So, what does this do?
It's very simple. When in sport mode you move the shifter forward for a downshift, or back for an upshift. When you do this, a 12v wire is grounded out allowing the circuit to close and in turn allows electrons to flow through the wire; this tells the computer you are requesting an up or downshift. What we do in the diagram is connect wires to these 12v+ feeds, route them through the steering wheel and to the paddles - then to ground. When you pull the paddle it grounds the connection and simulates a push/pull on the shifter and tells the computer you are requesting a gear change. Simple eh?


Step 2: Tools & Supplies


No, not those annoying kids that skateboard down the steps of your office tower... Man toys. Mhm.

You will need an array of tools to complete this job:

Required:
-Knife
-Wire strippers
-Ratchet & sockets
-Screw drivers (Torx, Flathead, Robertson, Phillips)
-Allen keys
-Torque Wrench
-Wire cutters
-Plastic Panel Removers (probably not the real name)
-As an alternate to the panel removers you can use a flathead screwdriver with electrical tape over top.
Please note this is a jerry rigged solution, the plastic tools will be THE most effective and safe way to remove panels in your vehicle without damaging them. It's a roughly $20 set of tools vs likely damaging an expensive interior, but its entirely your choice.

Optional:
-Breaker bar
-Soldering gun/pen
-Drill
-Vice
-Multimeter

You will need certain supplies:

Required:

-Electrical tape
I can not stress this next part enough... DO NOT BUY CHEAP CRAP. Electrical tape is not like caviar, it might as well grow on trees. Please for the love of God do not buy $0.80 rolls of tape. Spend $2 or $3 per roll, you will thank me later. Besides one roll will last you the entire mod and probably years to come.
-Wire, 16awg. 2x lengths about 3'-0" each. 1x Red, 1x Black (can be any color, just make them two different colors, or at least mark the ENTIRE length of one wire very clearly. You will thank me later if you do)
-Wire, 18 or 20awg. One length about 6"-8" (this will give you some extra)
-Heat shrink
-Zip Ties

Optional:
-Electrical Solder (For soldering pen)
-Beer


Step 3: Interior Dis-assembly


Warning: Airbags are EXPLOSIVE devices. They contain explosive material which if detonated in a removed state or while being handled can cause SEVERE bodily injury. Always use EXTREME caution when working with airbags and disconnect the battery prior to removal and only reconnect after the airbag is re-installed. Wait a minimum of five minutes after disconnecting the battery before working on an airbag - the system utilizes capacitors which store an electrical charge. This is to protect you if the car loses power in a collision so the airbags can still deploy. In other words the Airbags are still live for 5 minutes even with the battery disconnected. NEVER place an airbag face down as it will become a projectile if it detonates. Once removed store the airbag in an unobstructed location - make sure to place it outside the vehicle.

Now, with that out of the way... This will be one of the most potentially stressful and exciting moments of the mod if this is your first time taking the interior of a vehicle apart. My advice; go slowly. If a panel will not come off then chances are you have missed a screw or a clip - continued yanking will only damage the panel. Re examine the panel to make sure, most panels will come off with a gentle but firm tugging. (Get your head out of the gutter!)

Vehicles Equipped With Factory Sport Wheels:

A. Disconnect the negative (black) battery cable and wait 5 minutes. Place a bag, rag, etc over the negative terminal or move it out of the way to prevent accidental contact of the battery cable and the battery.
If you re-connect the battery with the airbag removed it will register an airbag fault with the system which will require a visit to the dealer unless you have the special tools to correct the fault in the computer
B. Remove the drivers side air bag. To do this use a T-25 screwdriver pushed vertically through the slit openings on the left and right of the steering wheel. You will feel it contact the spring release clips after about 1.5cm (0.6"). Repeat for the other side, the airbag can be removed by gently pulling on the top. Do not pull very far as the air bag wiring is still attached.
C. Remove the two harnesses attached to the back of the airbag. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry the back of the clips up, and out.
D. Place the airbag in a safe, dry location out of the way.
E. Use a ratchet (or breaker bar - will be easier) to remove the bolt in the center of the steering wheel.
F. Disconnect all remaining harnesses.
F. Gently pull the steering wheel towards you, it will slide off.
G. Remove multifunction buttons, trim, etc if re-using for new steering wheel. Store all screws for re-use.



Below is a video showing the airbag removal process





Vehicles Equipped With Factory Non-Sport Wheels:

A. Disconnect the negative (black) battery cable and wait 5 minutes. Place a bag, rag, etc over the negative terminal or move it out of the way to prevent accidental contact of the battery cable and the battery.
If you re-connect the battery with the airbag removed it will register an airbag fault with the system which will require a visit to the dealer unless you have the special tools to correct the fault in the computer
B. Remove the drivers side air bag. To do this use a T-20 screwdriver pushed vertically through the slit openings on the left and right of the steering wheel. You will feel it contact the Steering Wheel Up Stop after about 5.5cm (2"). Rotate the screwdriver to apply pressure towards the inside of the steering wheel, you will feel the spring and the airbag will pop out somewhat forcefully. Repeat for the other side - Keep one hand flat on the face of the airbag to prevent it from jumping out of the steering wheel. The airbag can be removed by gently pulling straight out. Do not pull very far as the air bag wiring is still attached.
C. Remove the airbag harness from the steering wheel (grey harness).
D. Place the airbag in a safe, dry location out of the way.
E. Use a ratchet (or breaker bar - will be easier) to remove the bolt in the center of the steering wheel.
F. Disconnect the remaining harness
F. Gently pull the steering wheel towards you, it will slide off.
G. Nothing from this steering wheel will be re-used. You will need a new steering wheel, air bag, air bag harness, multifunction buttons, steering wheel trim and hardware (screws) to attach the trim.

Below is a video showing the airbag removal process




All Vehicles:

A. Remove the steering column trim.
Use the plastic panel remover tools. Gently pull up on the top front of the trim while inserting the smallest panel remover in between the top and bottom trim pieces. Pry the tool up/down to loosen the trim. You will hear a popping noise as the trim separates, it is held in place via friction clips. Repeat on the other side & remove the top trim from the bottom. It is held in place by a fabric, move the trim vertically upwards and rest on the instrument cluster. Unclip the lower trim via the clips on either side. Place the lower trim out of harms way where it won't be damaged.





B. Remove the center Console Trim
Grip the shift knob with both hands - brace yourself and pull hard vertically upward. Be prepared for the force to release so you don't smoke the roof of your car. Place the shift knob out of the way.
Using a plastic prying tool wedged under the shift trim panel remove the panel from the center console, move and store out of the way.
Open the center console arm rest storage. Using a plastic prying tool start at the front and wedge it between the trim and the sides of the console, pry up to release the friction clips. Repeat for the remainder of the panel & remove by lifting the rear up and sliding back, the front is wedged slightly. Remove all harnesses.




Step 4: Prepping the Steering Wheel


Heh... Sounds like a terrible sit-com eh?

Warning: Soldering equipment gets EXTREMELY hot under normal usage. It can cause third degree burns in a matter of seconds when bare skin makes contact. Soldering equipment can cause fires, and should NEVER be used in areas with raw gasoline or other explosive fumes. Furthermore it can destroy your interior in a matter of seconds, keep it on a non combustible (concrete preferably) surface when not in active use & bring in the vehicle only when ready to solder a connection. Treat your soldering equipment like a live wire; always know where it is at ALL times. You may call me anal if you like but I have gotten second degree burns from this equipment before, I have seen the effects they have on vehicle interiors, I have seen them start fires. When misused they become dangerous tools, treat them as such.

Inspect your existing factory set up; find your factory multifunction buttons and inspect the harness. Pins 4 and 6 should be empty (you will see a small 1 and small 6 molded into the harness to identify the pin locations) If this is what your factory harness looks like this is good news. If you have wires here you may not be able to do this DIY, at least not in this way without losing functionality of some of your steering wheel buttons (not radio control).




Vehicles Equipped With Factory Sport Wheels:

If your factory harness looks like the one above and you have the sport wheel (re-using this harness) you will need to pin wires into the two open pins (4 & 6). To do this we will re-use some of the pins from the M3/M sport paddle shift harnesses. You will be cannibalizing the harnesses to accomplish this:

A. (This is done on an M3/1M wheel - things may look different on the LCI paddles) You will be cutting two-three wires here, and leaving one intact so make sure to go slowly. If you do cut all of them you can always re-solder the one back but it will be less messy and easier this way.
B. Take your Steering wheel and install the paddles on either side. It will be easier with the steering wheel trim removed but it does not have to be.
C. Inspect the harnesses - both sides should be able to reach the harness for the multifunction buttons which you will be pinning into with a little slack to spare. You will be cutting the only one wire of the Left harness off, and only one wire of the Right harness.
D. Cut the Grey/Black wire ONLY about 2" from the right and left paddle harness. (this is so you have room to re-solder it back on should you need to, or if a mistake was made.) Note: On the image below I shortened the wire on the right harness so it would fit a little cleaner, this is NOT necessary, I was just being OCD.
E. Using a small flathead screwdriver, pry open the paddle harnesses. The harness should be built with one side hinged, remove both pins and keep the grey/black wire handy. You can always repair the wiring and re-pin the harness if you want to sell it later.
F. Strip + solder the cut pin (grey/black wires). Using a length of wire (18 or 20 awg wire listen in supplies, solid dark grey in the images) solder both grey/black wires together with the length of wire running so it can reach the steering wheel ground.
G. Back off the steering wheel ground screw, strip the wire and twist the exposed wire nice and tight. Wrap it around the screw and back around itself a couple times. solder the wire as is so it wont unwind and screw the steering wheel ground screw back down tight.
H. Refer to the wiring diagram at the start - it will help the above make sense.





I. If using a new trim piece install the multifunction buttons, route the wiring in the slots provided at the lower end of the steering wheel
J. Pin the paddles into empty pins 4 and 6. Right paddle goes to pin 6, left to pin 4. You may need to open the harness using a flathead screwdriver like we did for the paddle shifters. This will certainly make it easier



Vehicles Equipped With Factory Non-Sport Wheels:

If your factory harness looks like the one above and you have the NON sport wheel (not using the factory harness) you will need to get a set of sport multifunction buttons. I'm going to assume you are getting these new from the dealer (otherwise they may be missing pins 4 and 6 in which case refer to the process for sport wheels above). If you get a new set of buttons they should be pinned out for all 6 pins, in which case you will have to use an x-acto knife to cut through some of the fabric sheathing on the wires (be very careful to not cut the wires and only cut the sheathing). Once you have exposed about 2" you can cut the wires from pins 4 and 6 (leave at least 1.5" from the harness so you can use these wires) and heat shrink + tape off the other ends of these wires:

A. (This is done on an M3/1M wheel - things may look different on the LCI paddles) You will be cutting two-three wires here, and leaving one intact so make sure to go slowly. If you do cut all of them you can always re-solder the one back but it will be less messy and easier this way.
B. Take your Steering wheel and install the paddles on either side. It will be easier with the steering wheel trim removed but it does not have to be.
C. Inspect the harnesses - both sides should be able to reach the harness for the multifunction buttons which you will be pinning into with a little slack to spare. You will be cutting the paddle shift harnesses clean off.
D. Cut the harnesses off about 2" from the right and left paddle harness. (this is so you have room to re-solder it back on if you want to sell it later.)
E.Test fit a length of the 18 or 20 awg wire from the supplies and cut to length as needed
F. Strip + solder the cut pin (grey/black wires). Using a length of wire (18 or 20 awg wire listen in supplies, solid dark grey in the images) solder both grey/black wires together with the length of wire running so it can reach the steering wheel ground.
G. Back off the steering wheel ground screw, strip the wire and twist the exposed wire nice and tight. Wrap it around the screw and back around itself a couple times. solder the wire as is so it wont unwind and screw the steering wheel ground screw back down tight.
H. Refer to the wiring diagram at the start - it will help the above make sense.





I. Carefully cut the fabric sheathing with an x-acto knife on the multifunction button harness, be careful not to cut the wires inside. Once through, use wire snips to cut the removed fabric off without cutting the wires - you will not be able to reuse this easily, taping will take less time and less hassle.
J. locate pins 4 and 6, cut the wires about 1.5" from the harness.
K. Bend the cut wires away, strip the wires leading the the harness. Place heat shrink over the other ends (multifunction button side) so 50% is on the wire and 50% is not, use a lighter to heat the heatshrink. Bend the portion not covering the wire back and wrap electrical tape around it - this will prevent this wire from contacting anything in the steering wheel. You don't know what it does without extensive research, for all we know it could potentially blow a fuse, damage a system, or possibly set off the airbag inadvertently (if it has a live 12v charge and contacts the airbag leads somehow - very very unlikely but possible) Just follow these steps to make sure its fully isolated, then you won't have to worry.
L. Strip the solid grey wires from the paddles, solder the one from pin 6 to the right hand side, and pin 4 to the left.
M. Tightly wrap electrical tape about 3/4" from the harness to about 1/2" past where the fabric sheathing is cut.
N. Route the wiring in the slots provided at the lower end of the steering wheel (see image above in factory sport wheel instructions)



All Vehicles:

A. Secure multifunction buttons to trim if you haven't already - only use one fastener per side as the other one holds the trim to the steering wheel and passes through the buttons. Inspect your wheel and it will be evident.
B. Install the steering wheel trim and secure in place.
C. Place the steering wheel out of the way, do not install the airbag yet.


Step 5: Steering Column & Shifter Connections


A. Make sure you have clear access to the wires at the shifter
B. Get a wire coat hanger, with bolt cutters or wire cutters cut the coat hanger at the top on either side of the hook. Bend it straight. This is called a 'fish', it will be used to move wire from one place to another through the vehicle without taking panels apart.
C. Place the fish out of the way, the sharp metal where you cut can scrape your plastic or puncture your leather if its sitting inside the car and you slip and sit/step on it by mistake.
D. Go to the steering column, on the right hand side you will be removing a harness. There should be two, you will remove the one on the left when seated in the driving position.
E. To release it you will have to pull on a latch release, it will force the harness to slide out as you rotate it.






F. In this harness you will either have a yellow and a yellow/black wire in pins 2 and 4. Alternatively they might be empty.
G. If they are empty, use the pins left over from the paddle shift harness, strip these and set aside - do not pin in the harness yet.
G2. If they contain yellow and yellow/black wires. we want to test these to make sure they connect to pins 4 and 6 (they should, tons of people have confirmed) But to test, use your multimeter - check for resistance (ohm symbol). If it reads a 1, it is not connected, if it reads 0 or 0.010, etc (any number other than 1) it is the correct wire. Please note that the harness must be attached otherwise it wont work.
H. Prep your wires which will be run to the shifter. Take the two 3' lengths, place one end in a bench vice or clamp to a table/workbench (or have someone hold one end with a pair of pliers/vice grips). Take the other end of the two wires, place them in the end of your drill. Tighten the chuck so it holds onto the wires firmly and hold down the trigger until the wires are tight - when you release them they will unwind several turns so make it tighter than you want them to be. This is how you make a braided wire - it will be much easier to work with now, easier to run places in the vehicle, and looks way cleaner.
I. If you have the yellow and yellow/black wires in your harness then cut these about 2-3" from the harness - heat shrink + tape the wires leading under the dash as we did in step K of the factory non sport equipped steering wheel prep from step 4. Tape around these and tape them to the bundle of wires to keep them close and away from anything else.
J. Solder the yellow wire to one end of your braided wire, and the yellow/black wire to the other. If you have no wires here, solder one pin to either wire and pin them in place - it doesn't matter which we will test this for redundancy later. Tightly tape all connections and tape the braided wire to the rest of the bundle at this location.



K. Take the fish and feed it through the center console up towards the steering column, it should be a fairly open path with no obstructions. When you see it appear pull about 8" through - make sure you still have one end sticking out at the cluster
L. Take the braided wire and tape the end which will go to the shifter tightly to the end of the fish sticking out at the cluster. Then pull the fish from the center console through - it will pull the wire down. Once out remove the tape and remove the fish from the vehicle.
M. Zip tie the braided wire in place at the steering column.





N. Locate the blue and violet wires (two center wires) at the shifter harness. VERY carefully shave the sheathing off with a knife.
O. Cut the braided wire to length leaving enough to comfortably reach the wires. Strip the ends of your braided wire run from the steering column, wrap one wire around the blue and one around the violet, DO NOT SOLDER THESE YET




Step 6: Steering Wheel Re-Assembly & Final Steps


A. Reinstall the steering column trim, it will clip into place.
B. Place the steering wheel on the column - there is a notch in the wheel so it only goes on one way.
C. Plug in the air bag harness and the multifunction button harness.
D. make sure all the wires are routed through the clips provided or out of the way.
E. Do a final check on all connections, make sure they are properly connected and routed properly
F. Install the steering wheel bolt - Torque to 63NM (47 ft-lbs)
G. Reconnect the airbag, make sure the release clips are pressed down.
H. Press the airbag gently into the opening, it will clip into place.
I. Re connect the battery - check for faults. If check = ok continue. Test horn functionality and multifunction buttons. Remove the fob, open the door then close it. Insert fob and start the vehicle, observe the airbag light in the top right of the HUD and make sure it comes on and then goes off - this is the system checking the SRS functionality and indicates normal operation. If cheque does not = ok, or airbag light does not come on or does not go off investigate before continuing.






J. With the vehicle on, shift into M1, test that the right paddle sends it to M2. If it does not, see if the left paddle shifts to M2. If the left paddle shifts up and right paddle shifts down the swap the wires at the shifter. Retest. Once you confirm that the right paddle shifts up and left paddle shifts down solder these connections, tape over each one the do a final tape over the bundle of wires to keep it all together.
K. Route your braided wire out of the way of the gearshift operation, zip tie in place. Make sure all tools and supplies are removed from within the center console.
L. Re assemble the interior, starting with the center console trim. Re-connect all harnesses and insert the front of the trim under the radio/hvac cluster then lay the rest down. Press firmly on the top when the friction clips are lined up with the holes - it will snap into place. Do the same for the shifter trim then place the shift knob over the shifter. Press down firmly and it will pop back into place.
M. Clean up your tools and take it for a test drive!
N. Enjoy!

__________________
2009 Jet Black E90
LED AE | AE DRL Mod | BMW Performance Intake + Charcoal Filter delete | BMW Performance Exhaust | AA Stage 2

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  #1  
By BMWE934me on 02-10-2014, 10:18 AM
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Thumbs up Great detailed DIY

This is by far the most detailed of all the paddle shift DIY's I have read. Thanks for posting. This keeps anyone from having to read dozens of pages from several DIY's to piece all of the things together to get it right the first time. Now it is in one post.
I understand your DIY is for a non-paddle LCI vehicle to add DCT paddles. I am going to go slightly off subject here. I have been studying the paddle DIY's for the past week or so. I have an '11 LCI Sport Pkg w/paddles. I am going to upgrade to either an M-Sport or M3 steering wheel and DCT paddles. From what I have gathered, I need to add resistors to the DCT harness for the LCI paddle circuit to read the proper signals.

Name:  LCI to DCT mod.jpg
Views: 783
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Have I read wrong or is there a difference because I already have paddle? I want to get this right the first time around. If you can offer any assisting advice, it would be much appreciated.
Last edited by BMWE934me; 02-10-2014 at 10:29 AM. Reason: SP
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  #2  
By Spinz on 02-16-2014, 02:21 PM
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Thanks, I appreciate the kind words! As far as your question, I'm not sure where the resistors are coming from as they are not required for my DIY. I have not looked into converting an LCI paddle to an M3 paddle but I would imagine they would use the same harness and system, Even if they didn't I can't imagine the way they function to be vastly different from how it's shown in my DIY. Furthermore I'm not sure why different rated resistors would be required? If you can give me a link to where you're getting this info I can have a look and tell you what I think
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  #3  
By WhiteNora on 02-18-2014, 01:05 AM
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The sexy leggings should be easy and stylish instead of being big and swollen.
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  #4  
By BMWE934me on 02-18-2014, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spinz View Post
Thanks, I appreciate the kind words! As far as your question, I'm not sure where the resistors are coming from as they are not required for my DIY. I have not looked into converting an LCI paddle to an M3 paddle but I would imagine they would use the same harness and system, Even if they didn't I can't imagine the way they function to be vastly different from how it's shown in my DIY. Furthermore I'm not sure why different rated resistors would be required? If you can give me a link to where you're getting this info I can have a look and tell you what I think
After more research and doing the mod, I found out that the LCI has to read a certain voltage constantly, to acknowledge the paddles are there. Then when the paddle is depressed the other resister gives a voltage drop to signal the tranny to shift. Pretty simple really. My DIY covers the install "LCI and non-LCI to DCT mod DIY" and works like a charm.
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