Can I install aftermarket iPod interfaces into my BMW?
April 28, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a 2003 BMW 325i. There is a sticker on my windshield warning me that aftermarket electronics (and cell phones) may interfere with the car's electronic system. For real? The dealer says they cannot install the factory iPod interface (it's only for 2004 and later). My fiance has a 2006 BMW X3 with the factory-installed iPod interface and I am insanely jealous. DO WANT.

First off, I use my (Verizon, RAZR VM3) cell phone in the car regularly (I don't use bluetooth because it wasn't installed in the car and I'm not willing to pay for it). Am I secretly destroying some electronic component? My radio gets much poorer reception than other cars driving in the same area (I had a rental car for awhile, and I ride in my fiance's car all the time). We're 70 miles from Milwaukee and 50 miles from Chicago, and he can pick up FM stations from both cities, while I get static on many of them.

I saw this and I'm salivating over the prospect of being able to control my playlists. But, I don't want to "interfere with the electronic components," and I don't want to void my warranty (MaxCare from CarMax - the BMW original warranty has expired). Will installing the product above ourselves void my warranty?

By the way, I have Monster iCarPlay for iPod and it's intermittently staticky. I've tried the Belkin versions and they suck too. If it matters, my iPod is a 2nd gen Nano (8 gb) that I have no immediate plans to upgrade.

Yes, I realize the irony of asking the AskMe example question.
posted by desjardins to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
It should be fine. Usually that warning for aftermarket electronics is for things like alarm systems and entirely new stereos.

But, if the iPod thingy does short out your radio, however unlikely, the warranty wouldn't cover the damage. It won't affect the warranty on other parts of the car, though. Federal warranty law says that if they decline warranty service, the shop has to prove that the aftermarket add-on caused the problem. Carmax would have trouble proving that installing the iPod adapter blew up your transmission.
posted by hwyengr at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2008

Oh wow. I had a 2003 BMW 325i too. It had terrible radio performance! Also the CD changer in the back would skip if you hit even the slightest pot hole.

I don't know about voiding your CarMax warranty, but BMW dealerships can install the glove box integration kit. It is not the best, and they'll charge you up the ass, but I bet a BMW-installed kit will be less likely to void your warranty than something after-market like this. Also rule number one about owning BMWs is not to let them leave their original warranty (you might find this out the hard way, as I did).
posted by geoff. at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2008

FWIW there are a lot of people with DICE iPod kits installed, and a lot of help for issues, you could have a look at any problems that have come up.
posted by clarkie666 at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2008

Seconding clarkie666's suggestions to check out the bimmerforums. Anything you want to do to your BMW, someone there has already tried it.

Also, if you're hoping to get the ID3 text on your radio display, you need to make sure the radio is ID3 compatible. I know the stock unit in my 2003 MINI isn't.
posted by weebil at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2008

Just go buy yourself a CD player that has an auxiliary input, and get a headphone-to-RCA adapter. Have whoever installs the CD player run the headphone end of the adapter out into the cabin.

Your CD player may even already have an auxiliary input, check your manual. I've had this in my car for a few years now, and it sounds great. It beats those FM transmitter things.

If you are not afraid to pry apart your front console, you can install it yourself for free, thereby making your total cost only that of a headphone/RCA adapter assuming your CD player already has an AUX input. I would assume a BMW has a pretty nice CD player in it, and most current CD players (or recent--mine was from 2003 or so and had an aux input---I didn't even realize that until I got an IPod, a year or so after I purchased the CD player) have auxiliary inputs on the back.

You end up with a cord coming out of the dash, hangin' round on your floorboard, and you just plug it into your IPod when you're in the car. It wouldn't be difficult to, if you were concerned about it, stick a little velcro somewhere so you can stow it safely while you drive.
posted by Darth Fedor at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2008

Dice and US spec both make good iPod adapters for BMWs. I believe that the US spec one is more similar to the factory option (6 playlists)
posted by mphuie at 1:43 PM on April 28, 2008

The dealer says they cannot install the factory iPod interface (it's only for 2004 and later).

Follow-up: Dealer was full of shit. iPod interface was installed as a birthday gift. Works great.
posted by desjardins at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2009

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