Activate Keyless Remote

I purchased a 1997 Z3 1.9 roadster in June and only received one keyless entry remote, even though it came with two sets of keys. Two weeks ago, I was searching for another remote, and found that if I were to purchase a keyless remote (part # 82 11 1 469 448) at a BMW dealership, it would cost around $120. Also, if I wanted to have the remote activated, so that it would operate on my vehicle, it would cost an additional $70. For all us BMW owners out there, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that you bought a $30,000 sports car, and yet BMW still feels free to charge excessive amounts of money for relatively simple things. Activating a keyless remote is a simple thing. To make a long story short, I managed to buy a copy of the instructions, on how to activate or deactivate the keyless remote, for $7. I feel that something so simple (and actually pretty fun), should not cost $70. It all boils down to highway robbery. I know that this works on a ’97 Z3, and with a keyless remote part # 82 11 1 469 448, so, without further adieu, here are the instructions for activating a keyless remote on a BMW. FOR FREE!!!!

Each remote transmitter has a unique identification (ID) code. In order for a replacement remote to operate your security system, or to delete the ID code from a lost remote, you must follow the procedures detailed below so that your system’s control module will learn/delete the desired ID code(s). This code-learning initialization procedure must be followed precisely within the sequence and time constraints specified, in order for the procedure to be carried out successfully.


1. Close all doors, trunk, and hood.

2. The security system must be in “disarm” mode. The key must be removed from the ignition key slot.

Enter Code-Learning Mode

3. Open the trunk and leave it open.

4. Open the driver’s door and sit in the driver’s seat.

5. Close the driver’s door.

6. Cycle the ignition switch five times between the “off” position and position 2 (ignition “ON”, all dash warning lamps will illuminate). The red status LED will illuminate continuously, and the siren will “chirp” once, to indicate that the code-learning mode has been initiated.


The ignition switch cycling in step #6 must be performed within ten seconds.

The sequence in steps #1-6 must be performed within 45 seconds.

Registering/Delete ID Code(s)

7. Open driver’s door, (remain seated in driver’s seat)

8. Close driver’s door.

9. Press and release any button on the remote you wish to register into the system. The status LED will shut off momentarily to indicate that one ID code has been registered.

10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 to register the remaining three ID codes.

Exiting Code-Learning Mode

11. Open driver’s door, and exit from vehicle, leaving the door opened.

12. Close trunk.

13. Close driver’s door. The LED will turn off and the siren will “chirp” twice.

14. The initialization procedure is now completed, test all remotes to confirm operation.

It is possible for the system to memorize a total of four different ID codes. As a new code is initialized into memory, the oldest code in memory is automatically deleted. If you had lost your remotes and wished to delete the lost remote ID codes from memory, you could initialize the ID code from a newly purchased replacement transmitter four times thereby deleting the previous ID codes from system memory.

If you have any questions, I can be reached at

BMW Side Impact Protection

At BMW factory in South Carolina there is a Z3 Safety Shell Exhibit that shows off some of the design and technology BMW is using to make these cars as safe as possible. One of the improvements they are especially proud of is the yellow bar you see running horizontally across the door.

It looks simple enough but this bar is designed to protect the occupant by spreading the impact in front of and behind the driver. At the exhibit we were told that this could easily make the difference between walking away from an accident or not.

Okay forget marketing hype, Mike Dwyer saw this device work in real life. “I had someone run a red light and hit me directly on the drivers door at about 35mph. Only a few minor nicks for me, but the M roadster had the back left wheel tweeked and the total bill was almost $12k”

Looking at this picture you can see that the door was the impact zone. But notice the raised ridge (and picture that yellow bar from the safety shell exhibit).

Retrofitting BMW Roll Hoops

Pros: Upgrades both safety and image of pre-98 Z3’s to 98+ standards. Added protection in the event of rollover. Creates framework for additional accessories, like the windblocker.
Cons: Long, involved procedure. Plenty of opportunity to break stuff. Relatively high retrofit cost for what was a no-cost upgrade to the ’98s.
Cost: $633 ~ $840 (not including installation)

If your BMW Z3 does not have rollhoops it may be possible to retrofit them into your vehicle. BMW has an upgrade kit, but it can only be used on Z3s built on or after 1/97. Specifically 1.9 VIN LB83105 and later; 2.8 VIN LC01377 and later. No earlier production will work (and remember — some “1997” cars were actually built in 1996).

There is no external indication of this. The cars made in 1996 and in 1997 look the same. However, the designers clearly thought that the car needed rollhoops and tried to plan for it, even though the hoops were not ready in 1996 and 1997. It looks like some kind of manufacturing error led to the release of the ’96 cars without the hoop supports, but in ’97 they had (at least) started to install the critical braces. In ’98 the hoops became a factory installed option, standard in the US, optional in Europe and other parts of the world.

(Editors Note: Another rumor was that BMW Legal held up the release of the roll hoops, but manufacturing had already made the design changes. So just the hoops themselves with removed from the scheduled production.)

If your car meets the VIN requirements, it means it can be retrofitted. When you order the kit, you will receive new hoops and a set of instructions. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems:

First, the kit is not complete, there are some additional parts required. The list of parts varies depending on the type of car you have (color and rear-console configuration).

Second, the instructions with the kit do not cover the install for a Harmon Kardon equipped vehicle.

This article seeks to address these shortcomings and to provide the potential hoop-installer with enough information to make the decision to install themselves or to have BMW do the job.

General Instructions

BMW will generally quote about 5 hours of time to do the install. Most BMW dealers charge around $75 per hour. A competent do-it-yourselfer should plan on about 8 to 10 hours. Although it’s not a technically complex procedure, there are lots of steps and some fabrication required. In general, anyone handy with a wrench and power drill can probably do it. The only “special” requirements are for the special tools required: TORX bits, metric torque wrench, Hex keys, dremal tool or power drill and screwdrivers.

Although your car can be driven during this procedure, it will likely have a lot of small parts loose, so it’s not advisable. Therefore you should plan ahead and have all the parts and tools ready beforehand.

Before you start, clean the rear window. Once the hoops are on it will be a lot harder to do so you want to do a really good job. In addition, have a couple of towels around to protect the window as you work. Generally speaking, the top is down for most of the install, so only a small part of the window is exposed.

As with all procedures read all the instructions first. Print these instructions beforehand. You’ll want them close by as you start to take your car apart. The hoop kit will come with instructions as well, but they will be in German with an English transation in the back. It’s much easier to follow these instructions in English (unless, of course, you speak German 😉

As you remove small parts, tape them to the instruction sheet or tape them near where they came from (whichever is easier for you). There are lots of different sizes and shapes and they are easily confused.

When you are done, sweep up before moving the car, that way you will not run over an errant screw and ruin a $200 tire.

BMW only wrote up instructions for cars with the “Storage Compartment” option. They did, however, provide parts for retrofit of HK subwoofer cars, but with no additional instructions. Since the majority of the instructions in this article come directly from the BMW english instructions shipped with the kit, they are intended for the “Storage Compartment” installation, but can generally be used with the HK subwoofer. I have added notes where the Harmon Kardon installation differs. These are identified by “HK NOTE:”. There are no instructions for the Nokia subwoofer and no one I have ever talked to has attempted to retrofit hoops to a Nokia-equipped car.


The part number for the main kit is 54-61-9-408-817. BMW list price is $640.00, but you can find them at a discounted cost of $430 from some internet-friendly BMW parts departments. You can also try your local BMW dealer who will generally give BMWCCA members a discount on parts (15 or 20%).

In addition to the kit you also need to order a replacement set of plastic covers for the rear storage/subwoofer area:

The actual part numbers will differ depending on the color of your interior and your rear compartment type (Storage or HK Sub). See the following table for the list of parts you’ll need to order in addition to the hoop kit:

Harmon Kardon Subwoofer Storage compartment

Beige interior

51-16-8-407-986 $59.41

51-43-8-407-167 $28.09

51-43-8-407-168 $28.09

51-43-8-407-173 $4.45

51-43-8-407-174 $4.45

65-10-8-407-995 $8.57

65-10-8-407-996 $8.57

Total: $141.63

51-16-8-407-179 $10.01

51-16-8-407-180 $10.01

51-16-8-407-239 $88.72

51-43-8-407-167 $28.09

51-43-8-407-168 $28.09

51-43-8-407-173 $4.45

51-43-8-407-174 $4.45

Total: $173.82

Black interior

51-16-8-407-985 $59.41

51-43-8-407-165 $28.09

51-43-8-407-166 $28.09

51-43-8-407-171 $4.45

51-43-8-407-172 $4.45

65-10-8-407-995 $8.57

65-10-8-407-996 $8.57

Total: $141.63

51-16-8-407-177 $10.01

51-16-8-407-178 $10.01

51-16-8-407-238 $88.72

51-43-8-407-165 $28.09

51-43-8-407-166 $28.09

51-43-8-407-171 $4.45

51-43-8-407-172 $4.45

Total: $173.82

The kit for the subwoofer will only work with the Harmon Kardon subwoofer. There is no kit available for Z3s with the “regular” Nokia subwoofer.

HK Note: If you’re doing HK, you’ll also need six 6×20 (6 mm x 1mm) pan-head screws which can be bought from Home Depot or your local hardware supply.

You may also want to order a number of small caps for the screw heads:

Black Screw Cap: 51 161 949 793

Beige Screw Cap: 51 168 398 920

You will be removing about 6 of them and will, more than likely, destroy most of them in the process.

You should also order a gasket: 51 168 399 072

This part fits in between the new rear covers. Although you do get one gasket with it, the extras will allow you to seal up the area between the covers.

Thre are two extra projects which are easy to perform as part of this install. For them you will need 4 size “00” washers, a small strip of velcro “loop-side” and a piece of foam padding approximately 12 x 12 inches large and 1/4 inch thick. These projects are not absolutely necessary to do for the hoop install, but since you will have the car apart, it’s a good time to do it.

Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, hoop-install is also a perfect time to replace your rear speakers.

54-61-9-408-817 Kit Contents

HK Note: You will need to modify part H. You can toss parts I and J – you won’t need them.

Extra Parts:

You should have the following “Extra parts”:

m. seatbelt tower covers (L & R)

n. inner covers (L & R)

o. center cover

p. brackets (2x)

q. gasket set

r. pan head screws (from Home Depot – HK only) (6x)


Note: In the instructions, the word “spanner” means “wrench”. The instructions were clearly written by Germans for the UK market.

You’ll also need a socket set (with philips screwdriver bits for hard to reach places) and a saw or a dremal tool if you are doing the HK install.

Important Safety Tip: When sticking tools down inside the car, be sure they are tightly attached. When I did this, in the final tightening of the hoops, I dropped a TORX attachment down into the opening and had to take the whole thing apart. Don’t let this happen to you. Suggestion: tape your tools together.

Phase I – Lay out your parts

Lay out a sheet or large towel and place all your parts on it. Take inventory and make sure you have everything:

Phase II – Strip Your Car Naked

In order to install the hoops, you will need to remove a large number of parts from the car. Before starting, lay down a sheet, or large towel where you will place the parts you remove. Be sure to label each part as you remove it, this will help when you go to put it back together.

Important Safety Tip: You will need to have the top folded down. The rear window will be exposed and will be very close to where you are working. You should take extra care to cover the window with a towel to protect it.

Note: Those darn screw covers! They are easy to tear. I’ve used a strong paper clip to remove them, but you are better off just buying a bunch before you start and not worrying about how badly you screw them up in the removal process. There is a small hole along the edge, you can grasp onto this hole and pull. Usually the cover just shreds at this point.

Note that you just gently lifting up the console enough to get at the screws. Be careful, it’s still attached at the front and you can damage it if you pull too much.

Hint: raise the roof at this point. It gives you a little more room to work in for the next step and there’s less danger of hurting the rear window as you remove the screws behind the storage box.

Now lower the roof.

HK Note: In order to gain access to the HK compartment, pull up on the cover, hard, from the front center area. It is hinged at the back and should just fold back. Don’t worry about breaking it – you’re just going to throw it away.

Next remove the grill for the HK “speaker”. You can do this by grasping the sides and pulling towards you. Remove your “snorkel” (this is the part which moves the sounds from the HK down to the grill) by pulling it outwards through the grill opening. Next, remove the HK subwoofer by unscrewing it from it’s mounts (4 screws) and unhooking it from the wiring harness. (for more information see this article from //MZ3.NET)

The instructions “Undo the clips(1) on the rear floor covering” refers to the plastic piece behind the seats. The diagram shows you looking from the drivers side towards the passenger seat belt. Unfortunately, in order to get this part to move as much as you need to, you also have to undo the sill strip at the bottom of the door. I just pulled up (HARD) and it came off. While you’re pulling it feels like you’re going to break it, but it’s pretty resilient. There’s probably a better way to do it. I suspect if you pull up and “reverse curl” the sil, the part will release from the fasteners. However on mine, 2 fasteners pulled out, still attached on both sides. This was not a big deal, I simply removed the third, and inserted it into the sil on reinstallation.

Phase III – Install the Hoops

OK, you now should have a naked car. The next step is to start installing the hoop supports and the hoops themselves.

HK Note: Before starting, attach your extra “HK part P” to “Part B” (see the parts list) with the screws you got from Home Depot. This bracket will support your HK subwoofer later on in the install.

HK Note: Skip this step, you don’t need the hinge

HK Note: Skip this step (F 36 54 059)- don’t remove the old silver “hinge supports” – you need them to back up the Tenax fasteners.

HK Note: you’ll need to “modify” the box which fits inside the console by cutting off the ends as indicated by the red line in picture. You don’t use the center box, but you will need the “ears” (the ends). Keep as much of the ends as will allow you to preserve the slots (these are used for the trim parts to secure with).

HK Note: Skip this step (F36 54 060). You will not need the hinges. Look at the next step, but skip down to the next HK Note instructions.

HK Note: Secure the side parts (highlighted in red in the picture) as indicated in the instructions. Next put the HK Subwoofer back in, reconnecting it to the wiring harness. The HK Cover does not use the hinges. Instead, it is secured by small tabs in the back. The new top will need to be inserted vertically. Before doing so, you must modify the metal plate (highlighted in yellow)

You’ll need to drill a couple new holes in the plate which secures the front of the cover. The problem is that the “studs” in the cover don’t line up the way the ones in the old cover do. I put some masking tape onto the cover and “pushed” an indentation into it to see where the holes should go. I then used my demal to make the holes. Careful: I made a mistake and made the holes a little too large, so I to buy a new part and start all over.

You also need to enlarge the existing holes to make room for some new screws on the cover where the old studs went. The new top then just “drops in”. You need to be careful to place it down vertically or you might break the small plastic parts which hold it on.

Phase IV Additional Hints and Tips

Now that you’ve taken most of the back console apart, you can take the opportunity to improve things a little more. There are two major areas in the rear console which can be improved with a little extra work:

– Eliminate the buzz from the HK subwoofer

– Improve the Tenax Fasteners (these are the little round knobby bits you fasten your boot cover to)

First wrap your subwoofer snorkel in some kind of foam insulation when you are reinstalling it. This prevents it from vibrating. I used some backing foam, but you can find this stuff at any harware store in the insulation section.

Next, get some velcro. You’ll just need the “fuzzy” (loop) side. Cut it into small (1/4 inch) strips. Look for wear-points on the inside of the grill. If you can’t find any, simply place the velcro near each corner. If you do find a wear point, place the velcro over it. This prevents the grill from buzzing.

While you’ve got the Tenax fasteners off, do the “Robert trick” – put a couple of “00 washers” behind them to stick them out more and make the boot easier to fasten.

Phase V Cleanup

Parts-is-parts… and if you did the HK install, you’ll have a bunch of extras:

Don’t worry about it. The HK install does not require these parts as they are designed to support the storage compartment install.

You did it!

Congratulations! You’ve now got a safer, cooler looking car.

Now that you’ve got rollhoops you can also avail yourself to another nice feature: The Wind Blocker. There are two versions available, a clear, plexiglas version from Z-Aids and a mesh version form BMW (Part # 82-15-9-408-546). This article from provides a pretty good comparison of the two products. I personally own both of them and enjoy using the clear screen in the spring and fall, reserving the mesh screen for the summer (because you can fold it down if you want the “wind through your hair” effect).

Overall, I’m very pleased with my rollhoops. Hope you are too!

Z3 Safety Shell Exhibit

Z3 Safety Shell Exhibit

Rear View Mirror Adapter

There is something you just have to love about Z3 owners. We drive one of the best roadsters on the market yet it seems that dozens of owners have come up with ways of making the car ever closer to being ‘perfect.’ Does the car make them creative or does it draw creative people to it? It doesn’t matter really, either way we all benefit.

A very common owner complaint is that the rear view mirror blocks a large portion of your forward vision out to the right side. It is caused by two things. The mirror itself is positioned to low and it is rather large. On the ‘M’s the mirror is even larger and presents more of a problem. After taking delivery of my car in ’96 I quickly learned to duck down and look under the mirror for right hand turns. This was annoying but what could I do? Nothing… at least for a while.

Early in 1999 Gary Hansel bought his M-Roadster. Like many owners before him he was annoyed with the rear view mirror. Unlike everyone else he decided to tackle this problem and see what could be done. He came up with an elegant solution.

The result is Gary’s ///Mirror Adapters.

Gary’s adapter lets you mount a GM, Chrysler or Ford mirror, depending upon the adapter used, to the BMW lug that is glued to your windshield. Unlike BMW mirrors GM mirrors are adjustable vertically, you can move the entire mirrors face up and down to suit you. We want the mirror up high near the windshield header to improve visibility. With Gary’s adapter and a GM mirror you can position the mirror so its top edge is hitting the header just to the front of the dome light. This gives you the best forward view possible.

GM manufactures many different mirrors, with Gary’s adapter you have a choice of an assortment of mirrors that you can install. Gary typically sells four different styles of mirrors to go with his adapters.

A rectangular compact mirror (8 5/16″ x 2 1/2″) This is the mirror you want if you are only interested in getting the best forward visibility possible.

A medium rectangular mirror (9 1/2″ x 2 1/2″) Just a little larger version of the mirror above. The extra length to the mirror adds a little more vision to the rear.

A dual reading lamp mirror (10 1/4″ x 2 1/2″) This mirror isn’t quite a rectangle. Its sides are slightly curved and the upper edge has a very slight curve as well. It has more depth to its body. On the underside it has two toggle switches to turn on/off each of the lights built into the base of the mirror. If you were looking to add map lights to your car this is the way to go. The lights on the GM version of this mirror will also illuminate when you open the doors. This mirror is wider than the mirror that came on my Z3 but not quite as tall. Since you can position it higher you still get a nice increase in forward visibility. The mirror needs to be wired into the car.

The last is the electrochromatic (EC) self dimming mirror. (10 1/2″ x 2 3/4″) This mirror’s sides angle in similar to the factory BMW mirror. It also has a small projection on the bottom with a “Off/Lo/Hi” switch that illuminates in green when power is applied to the mirror. On the upper right hand side of the mirrors face there is a small circle for the rear facing light sensor. The body on this mirror is the largest of all. The mirror needs to be wired into the car. This is the mirror I have had installed in my car for over 6 months.

Most mirrors have two surfaces that reflect light for the day/night positions of the mirror. In the day position you will always see faint ghost images caused from the night surface. When you put the mirror into the night position bright lights above the mirror will reflect full brightness at you. The result is when you drive under a street lamp at night with the top down you are going to be blinded.

The EC mirror is totally different. It is a normal mirror in that it has a single reflecting surface. There are no ghost images seen in this mirror and driving under street lights no longer blind you. The surface of the mirror literally dims itself as needed to reduce the amount of light reflecting off it. It constantly adjusts the tint based on the amount of light to the front and rear sensors built into the mirror. The switch on the bottom controls the amount of dimming. I leave mine on ‘HI’ all the time and the mirror does the rest.

I installed all of these mirrors in my car and measured their positions to see how they compared to stock. I measured from the top inside edge of the windshield down to the bottom edge of the mirror to see how much higher each mirror was.

* Stock: 4.5″

* Small: 3.25″

* Medium: 3.25″

* Map light: 3.25″

* EC: 3.75″

All the replacement mirrors lower edges were closer to the top of the windshield. In all cases the replacement mirrors face was about 3 – 3 1/2″ closer to you then the stock mirror as well. The EC mirror’s bottom sits lower than the others for two reasons. The mirror itself is taller but also the pivot on the mirror is more in the center of the mirror. On the other mirrors the pivot is right on top. So for the EC mirror to clear the top of the windshield header you need to adjust the mirror somewhat lower. Even so it still gives you a nice increase in forward visibility but not quite to the same degree as the other mirrors.

The different pivot position of the EC mirror can cause a problem for taller drivers. When I received my EC mirror and adapter from Gary months ago I quickly ran into a problem. I am 6’5″ and I wasn’t able to tilt the mirror up enough to see straight back out of the car. The two pivots on the mirror were at the edge of their adjustments. I mentioned this to Gary then modified my mirror to let me adjust it as needed. This worked fine and I promptly forgot about it.

Gary didn’t. At Homecoming I stopped by the ‘Owner Solution’ tent to meet everyone and check out their products. Gary showed me a ‘tall guy’ version of his adapter to correct the problem I had run into. This adapter is a little different then his others. Instead of being a flat disc it actually is an angled spacer that changes the orientation of the mount on the GM mirror. This ‘tall guy’ adapter lets the EC mirror adjust properly for a taller driver. Another elegant solution to a problem!

The ‘tall guy’ adapter is not needed on any of the other mirrors, just the EC. If you are over 6’2″ or so you probably will need the ‘tall guy’ adapter if you want to install the EC mirror.


How difficult the install is depends upon the mirror you choose. For the first two mirrors they install will take a minute or two. With the second two mirrors (map light and EC) the installation is more involved.

To remove the factory mirror just grab the stalk that attaches to the windshield. Twist the stalk clockwise about a ¬ turn and the mirror will be released from the lug that is glued to the windshield.

If you are installing the non-powered mirrors you just line up the new mirror, with adapter already attached, at the same angle the factory mirror released at. You will feel the adapter fit over the lug when you have it correct. Then just rotate it counterclockwise about ¬ turn and it will lock into place. Adjust the mirror as needed and you are done. Don’t forget you can now move the mirror up and down as you desire.

If you are installing the reading lamp equipped mirror Gary has full instructions. Basically you need to tap into the existing wiring for the dome light to power the map lights. When you are done you mount the mirror and connect the plug into it.

For the EC mirror things are a little more complex then the map light wiring. You need to supply switched 12v power to the mirror. You can not use the dome light wiring as it is unswitched and the mirror could drain your battery over time. You need to decide where you want to get a source of switched power. I used the switched power that runs to the radio you could also use the connector for the cellular phone setup or any other switched source of 12v power.

Start out by disconnecting the battery. Assuming you use the radio power you will need to remove it. Depending upon the radio it may be held in place with an Allen key or it may use a special BMW 5 sided tool. If your radio needs the 5 sided tool you might be able to get it out using a 2 mm Allen wrench if you are lucky. Take the radio out so you have some room to work.

You need to run a power wire for the mirror from the radio up to the mirror. I ran the wire around the passenger side footwell and up the A-pillar then across the header so that the wire ends behind the dome light. You will want to tuck the wire away as much as possible. Pop the dome light out so you can make the electrical connections easier. Slide the cut end of the mirrors wire harness behind the trim panel in front of the dome light. Solder the power wire you ran up from the radio to the 12v input on the mirrors wiring harness. Insulate it well. For a ground there is a torx screw behind the dome light, take it out. You need to mar the surface on the bottom of the screw head to get a good electrical contact from it. Do that then reinstall the hex screw with the ground wire for the mirror under it. You can reinstall the dome light now.

Now you need to tap into the 12v switched power to the radio. On my car it was pin 5 on the radio connector and the wire was violet with black. Use a sharp razor to peel back the insulation on the wire without cutting the copper itself. Then solder the wire for the EC mirror to that. Be sure to insulate it well when you are finished. Reinstall your radio and install the EC mirror and adapter into your car. Plug the mirrors wiring harness into the mirror then reconnect your battery.

When you turn on your ignition the switch on the mirror should illuminate. If it does your electrical connections are fine and you should be all set, if it doesn’t you need to recheck your wiring. Most likely the ground isn’t good. You can double check the power wire and the ground with a multi-tester.

Gary’s ///Mirror adapter let me kill two birds with one stone. I reduced the blind spot caused by the factory mirror and as a side bonus it let me convert to the EC mirror that I really love.

This mod is highly recommended! I could not imagine going back to the factory mirror.

AC Schnitzer Roll Hoops

Pros: Look Really Good, Easy to Install
Cons: Very Expensive
Cost: $1086 (list)

Comparing the Schnitzer polished stainless steel roll hoops to the stock BMW roll hoops the there are several differences. The most obvious difference is the chrome finish instead of the flat black rubberized finish. The Schnitzer hoops have a black pad on the top front of the hoops. And while the overall shape is nearly identical the profile of the Schnitzer hoops is round where the stock hoops have a arrow or triangle shaped profile.

On closer inspection there is one other difference that does affect the installation. The BMW hoops are held in place with three torx bolts. Where each of these bolts comes on contact with the stock roll hoops there is a shallow bored out indentation. The Schnitzer roll hoops do not have these. (Note: You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a larger image).

When I started this project I was expecting a complicated installation procedure. I had installed an HMS roll bar on my previous 1.9 Z3 and while the installation went smoothly with the HMS roll bar, it took most of the day. I wasn’t expecting this installation to take all day, but I figured it would take at least a couple hours. To my surprise the installation was over before I knew it.

The only special tool you will need for this installation is a torx 40 driver. I had to start with a visit to the local hardware store. I had a set of torx heads for my cordless screw driver, but the largest one was a torx 30 (too small). In addition to the torx 40, I also used a phillips head and a flat blade screw driver.

Each roll hoop is held in place with three torx bolts (that act like set screws). The first step of the installation is to gain access to two of the set screws by removing the access panel at the base of the roll hoop. Use caution to make sure you don’t damage the plastic edges when you pop off the access panel.

Once the panel is removed you can see the two torx 40 bolts (I’m calling them set screws). Remove both of these but hold on to them because we will be reinstalling them later. These two torx bolts are shorter than the third bolt we will be removing in the next step so don’t mix them up.

Note: the pictures in this article show the removal of the drivers side roll hoop. You can duplicate the steps for the passenger side at the same or do the passenger side after the drivers side is complete.

The other set screw we need to remove is holding the inside of the roll hoop in place. To gain access to this bolt you will need to remove the HK subwoofer (or storage compartment). Rather than duplicate those instructions read the H&K Sub Dissected article.

Once the subwoofer is removed you will see the one remaining torx 40 bolt. Remove this bolt but hold on to it because we will be reinstalling it later.

Once the three torx 40 bolts are removed you can pull straight up on the roll hoop and it will slide out. There are rubber gaskets between the stock roll hoop and the plastic of the rear console. When I pulled the roll hoop out one of the plastic sections came loose because the gasket was stuck to it. Don’t be concerned if this happens to you, the plastic can be snapped back on.

Installing the Schnitzer roll hoop is the direct reverse of the steps we’ve done so far. The Schnitzer hoops come with their own rubber gaskets so make sure you have them on both the inner and the outer bars before sliding the new Schnitzer hoop down into place.

Earlier I told you that the Schnitzer hoops didn’t have the small indentations for the torx bolts. Because of this the torx bolts will not go back in as far as the stock bolts did. This initially concerned me so once I tightened the bolts to 22 nm (as the included instructions stated). I then removed the Schnitzer roll hoop and inspected it.

I was happy to see that each of the torx bolts had left slight indentations in the bar. So I was confident that the new Schnitzer roll hoops were just as secure as the old BMW ones.

Once I had one of the Schnitzer roll hoops installed I compared the two. The Schnitzer roll hoop appeared to lean slightly more forward than the BMW hoop (the picture at the right shows this). The two hoops appeared to be the same height, however it’s possible that the Schnitzer one was slightly taller.

I’m not sure what to think of the black pad on the front of the roll hoop. Visually it doesn’t do anything for me and I was considering removing it. But then there was a story on the message board about an individual that was driving a Z3 and during an accident hit his head on the BMW roll hoop. After reading that story I decided to leave the pad.

Right after installing the Schnitzer roll hoops I wondered if it was “too much”. But that thought faded as I continued staring at them. The ultimate test came when I asked my wife to come to the garage and give her opinion. She took a look at them and her first comment was “WOW”, and with that one word I knew I had done the right thing. I know the chrome look isn’t something that everybody is going to like, but I REALLY like it.

If there is a downside to these roll hoops, it is that I don’t want to cover them up with a wind screen. The BMW roll hoop wind screen still works with the Schnitzer hoops, but the pad on the front of the hoop stretches the material pretty tight. I’m okay with that but more importantly the BMW wind screen hides the chrome.

At the 1999 Z3 Homecoming I showed the Schnitzer roll hoops to JD (the maker of the clear windscreen). He measured the Schnitzer hoops and made a slightly modified version of his windscreen that works with the Schnitzer hoops. Turns out all he had to do was cut out a couple notches for the black pads since the Schnitzer hoops have the same curve, height and mounting points as the BMW hoops.

BMW Fog Light Kit for the 2.3 Z3

When I bought my ’99 2.3 in March from dealer stock there was one option missing that I would’ve ordered – fog lights. I had considered after market PIAA’s. But when BMW came out with a retrofit kit, I ordered one right away. And the installation is pretty easy, since the car is pre-wired from the fog light connectors all the way to the switch connection behind the dash.

The part # for both 1999 and 2000 Z3s is 99 00 0 001 658. The suggested retail is $229, but they are available from Circle BMW for about $161 plus shipping (

The kit comes with easy to follow instructions that are well illustrated. The only tools required are simple hand tools, but a hook awl is handy to remove the existing fog light mount covers. I’m not very handy with tools around the house or cars. I usually have to be retrained each time I remove or replace my Stonegards. So I got a friend to help me, and I’m glad I did. Despite interruptions for picture taking and running into a glitch or two, it took about 50 minutes from unpack to drive away.

The preparatory instructions called for disconnecting the battery ground cable, but we decided against it to keep from reprogramming the anti-theft radio.

I began by removing the plastic fog light mount covers with a small pick bent to form a hook awl. They pull out easily.

Install the silver Tinnerman clips over the fog light mount as shown with the smooth surface facing you. (LH light opening shown.)

The RH fog light connector is located behind the bumper adjacent to the receiver dryer. Pull up on the wiring harness to cut the tape holding the connector to the harness. The instructions said to secure any other connectors that were loose with cable ties (not provided) to prevent wire chaffing or interference with the A/C compressor pulley. This did not appear to be a problem so we skipped it. Then pull the connector through the opening and push the RH fog light connector into the RH fog light assembly.

Position the RH fog light assembly in the opening and press the assembly flush against the Tinnerman clips. Then secure with two of the 4.2x16mm hex head screws provided.

The LH fog light is installed in the same manner, except there was no need to secure any wires with cable ties.

To access the fog light switch connector you have to drop the driver’s side lower trim panel (knee bolster). With a small screw driver, pop off the caps that cover five M6x12 hex head bolts and remove the bolts and washers. Then push out the oval knock out panel from the alcove where the switch will be mounted just left of the steering column. The fog light switch is easy to find behind the panel and is larger than the oval knockout opening. Now came the only tricky part of the installation. I couldn’t reach the connector and hold it up against the oval opening in order to push in the fog light switch to connect it. So we strung a wire around the connector and pulled it flush with the back of the oval opening and held it while we pushed the switch in. The round switch button should be positioned on the left.

Next, reassemble the knee bolster and lower trim panel.

Under the hood, remove the cover from the power distribution box and plug in the provided relay in position K47. There should also be a 5 Amp fuse in position 22. If missing, use a spare fuse. Mine was already in place.

Functional check of fog lights is next

Turn ignition to position 2 and switch low beams on. Switch fog light switch on the green fog light indicator on instrument cluster should illuminate when fog lights are on. Then select high beams – fog lights and indicator should go out. There is a screw adjustment on each light assembly to adjust the vertical beam – no adjustment available to side.

Last step is press in the black plastic covers supplied to fill in the opening.

Note: Two things are different from the factory fog lights:

The lens is crystal clear instead of a ribbed surface. Personally I like the appearance better.

The fog lights will only come on with the low beams, period. You can’t turn them on with only the parking lights selected as the factory installation allows. That I don’t like. I suspect the relay is the problem. My service rep promised to get me an answer about this oddity. Maybe the relays are defective or maybe the factory relay can be substituted. I’ll provide an answer as soon as I find out.

In summary

This was an easy installation that any 1999 or 2000 2.3 driver could do in 45-50 minutes. You’ll save $100 over the factory lights and have a unique set of fog lights. Now, go out and shine your light!

Dual-Stage Radar Sensor

I started with the excellent article on adding a motion sensor to the BMW alarm. I encourage everyone to read that article first, as I’m not going into enough detail to do the whole job. Consider this as a set of “release notes”. Also, I assume both the BMW alarm and the motion sensor have been installed at this point. Read over all of this first, since I make comments like “connect with to power” then later talk about “put a switch in”. It’s better to do this all at once, but easier to explain using several passes at it. Remember: measure twice, cut once, measure again.

Changes desired from the existing article:

I wanted to use a dual-stage sensor, thus the car would “chirp” when someone got too close to it, before setting the alarm off

I wanted to know which stage sensor had been set-off, by visual inspection (i.e. LED)

I wanted a cutoff switch for both the motion sensor, and the outer stage “chirp”

I wanted to have the sensor be easy(er) to adjust [i.e. not have to pull the car apart to adjust the sensitivity]

I purchased a dual-stage sensor from This sensor is basically the same as the one mentioned in the previous article except that it has two stages of detection and comes with a small piezo buzzer to use as the outside “chirp” sound.

The first thing I did was to decide how I was going to wire everything and and measure everything. Based on other articles and talking with various people, I decided to put the sensor in the center dash, between the seats (under the cassette storage area). After removing the cassette storage bin, I was able to use my pocket knife to lengthen the hole already there to be just long enough to slip the sensor in. I put velcro tape on the sensor and the underside of the dash, and attached the sensor there. This had the advantage of making the screw to adjust the sensitivity easily accessible. I just remove the cassette bin (no tools needed), then use a small screwdriver to adjust the sensitivity. Thus, desire #4 was satisfied.

Next, I wanted an LED to show the status of the sensor. The sensor has an LED already attached to it, a bicolor red/green LED. I simply desodder it, sodder in extension wires, and added the LED to the end of those wires. I was able to snake that new cable (I used heat-shrink tubing to hold the wires together) through the gear-shift area (the shift boot cover comes off easy) and into the blank punch-out button area (which the light for the alarm itself and the glass-breakage sensor already were). I drilled another hole, and used one of the radio-shack LED black plastic covers to give it a professional look. It’s a little crowded there, but still looks good. OK, desire #2 is done.

I needed a place to put the buzzer that was going to serve as my outside warning. I decided it needed to go in the engine compartment, since that was the place the siren was, etc. It’s small so it can go anywhere. I choose up by the drivers wheel, inside the engine compartment. I tie-strapped it into place.

Now I had to find a way to get a couple wires into the interior of the car. If you look where the battery used to go in the ’96 model Z3, in the M roadster there is what looks like a bunch of cables doing just that, but they are fully covered and have a rubber grommet around them. I was able to move the rubber grommet just enough to snake the cables through to the interior. They come out just above the kick-panel speaker in the passenger wheel-well.

OK, this part is from memory (so PLEASE test all your connections before listening to me). I believe I hooked the red wire on the buzzer to the unswitched power supplied to the alarm. The black wire (ground) from the buzzer was attached to the green trigger wire on the motion sensor. I believe when motion is detected, this wire to connected to ground, thus the buzzer goes off.

Now I wanted to install cutoff switches, so I needed a good hidden location. I found one beneath the glove compartment. There is a piece of plastic that goes out from the firewall at a 90 degree angle, that’s what I used. It’s the piece of plastic that has the 2 or 3 plastic turn-screws to keep it on. In the center I was able to cut the holes for the switches themselves. I picked up a couple neat-looking blue auto-switches from a local electronics place and test-fitted them there. Make sure when the switches are in the plastic that there will be enough space to put the piece back on. Some of the tolerances were pretty tight. Now, cut the wire that supplies power to the motion sensor and connect one side to one terminal on one of the switches and the other side of the wire to one of the other terminals. Do the same thing for the cutoff for the “chirping” buzzer. OK, item #3 on my list is done.

OK, one last problem. When the car is running, so was the motion sensor. This has two side effects: the green light keeps going off indicating movement and the outside buzzer is also going off! While driving! This was unacceptable to me.

The solution was to use a relay, like is often used for fog lights and such. Make sure you get a real relay that has both an “87” and “87a” connector (the first one I bought said it had both, but really only had two “87” connections). Basically, you hook power up to the relay and based on whether power is applied to a third connector (or not), passes or does not pass power. The difference between “87” and “87a” is that they are the inverse of each other (one has power when the other doesn’t, and vice-versa).

I don’t remember the details (I’m a computer guy, not an EE), but it should be easy to understand based on the diagrams with the relay. Basically, hook ground an unswitch power directly to the relay. Then the terminal that determines whether power should run or not is hooked to the car’s “switched” power (the violet wire with a white stripe in the alarm harness). Then the terminal that has power with the terminal just mentioned does not have power should be feeding power to the motion sensor. Now, the motion sensor (and the outside buzzer) are only on when the car is switched off!

That’s it!

If you have any questions, you can email me at

Used Airbags

I hope you never have to see your Z3 in this condition, but below are some pictures of a Z3 after its airbags had been deployed. I’m not sure whose Z3 this is; it was parked at a BMW dealership.

This first picture shows the passenger side airbag. It is much larger than I expected it to be. The fabric looks like a thick, almost canvas like surface.

The driver’s side airbag was much smaller, but it looked like someone has pushed part of the bag back into the steering wheel. Looking around the cabin, I expected to see some white powder, but the interior was clean.

What surprised me the most was how little damage there was to the front bumper. I expected to see a lot more damage if the impact was enough to set off the airbags. It is my understanding that the Z3 knows if you are wearing your seat belts or not and will deploy the airbags in a lesser impact if you are not wearing your seat belt. I don’t really know any details, just observing how little damage there was to the front bumper.