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Old 01-09-2006, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: X5world
Posts: 54
Xoutpost has disabled reputation
BMW X5 Hitch Installation Tips

Contributed by: pepatrick

BMW X5 Hitch Installation

Step by step instructions

You may want to disconnect the battery – I did not

Inside the X5


1. Remove spare tire

2. Remove the trim for the retractable cargo floor

3. Remove the plastic trays around the spare tire

4. Remove the 6 x 16mm nuts on each side (3 on each side)

5. Disconnected the Park Distance Control connector on the left hand side of the cargo area

6. Push the PDC connector through the hole in the rear

7. Remove 2 x 13mm nuts toward rear of dome underneath the spare tire

8. Remove 2 x 13mm bolts toward front of dome underneath spare tire

9. Push the dome (self leveling suspension) out of the way

10. Remove 3 screws to access the battery

11. Remove 4 screws that hold the plastic tray where the tuner is and or PDC module

Outside the X5


12. Remove the exhaust ring trim – normally would not be on a 02 4.6is…I added these

13. Remove the lower 8mm bolt from inside both rear fender wells

14. Remove 2 T55 bolts that hold the bumper in place

15. Remove the bumper – remember to disconnect the 4 tabs underneath where the bumper is mounted to the lower part of the vehicle

16. Remove bumper shocks

17. Remove
the front and rear exhaust hangers at rear of body (both sides) (4 X
13mm nuts on each side) Also there are 2 additional 13mm nuts to hold
the ground strap in place

18. Remove the heat shields from each side (2 x 10 bolts and 2 x 10 washer nuts on each side)

19. Remove 2 x 13mm bolts that hold bumper shock frame to rear of body

20. Remove 8 x T45 bolts from bumper shock frame

21. Remove bumper shock frame


22. Run the wire harness through the opening in the middle of the rear of vehicle

23. From
the cargo area run the harness to the rear left and connect it to the
empty connector in the spare tire well – there is a cap on this that
must be removed

24. From
the cargo area where the battery is remove the large L shaped plastic
tray that holds the tuner module and PDC module and insert the
electronic control module for the hitch wiring.

25. Plug in the connector to the electronic control module

26. Mount new hitch support bracket in the pentagon shaped opening (1 on each side)

27. I also re-installed 5 of the T45 bolts back into the holes – this is probably not necessary but I did it anyway.

28. From
the bottom of the X5 where the heat shields were, install 1 x 16mm x
85mm bolt and washer in to the rear (closest to rear of vehicle) hole
into the hitch support bracket (1 on each side) *** Finger tighten

29. From
the bottom of the X5 where the heat shields were, install 1 x 16mm x
30mm bolt and washer in to the front (closest to front of vehicle) hole
into the hitch support bracket (1 on each side) *** Finger tighten

30. On
the hitch assembly insert 2 x 16mm x 40mm bolts in each mounting
location and take a hammer and bend down the tabs that hold the bolts
in place (2 on each side)

31. The
hitch assembly is very heavy, but one person can do this…lift it into
place (it is obvious where it goes) and from the lower portion of the
bumper support finger tighten 1 washer nut on each side..I hope you ate
your Wheaties in the morning.

32. From inside the vehicle, tighten the top bumper mount with 1 washer nut on each side.

33. Once all 4 of these nuts are in position, you can tighten all 4 down to 55 lbs using a good torque wrench.

34. Mount the wire harness and plug assembly to the hitch assembly – use the 2 x 10mm bolts and 4 screws included in the kit

35. Find
both bumper support brackets and install 2 x 16mm x 120mm bolts into
each one (total of 2 brackets and 4 bolts) hammer the tabs down to hold
the bolts in place

36. Mount the bumper support brackets to the hitch assembly with the longer part of the tube facing down

37. From inside the vehicle finger tighten 2 x 16mm washer nuts – You will not tighten these down until you mount the bumper

38. Tighten
the 2 x 16mm bolts that you installed (bumper earlier from the bottom
of the rear of the vehicle. (2 on each side @ 55 lbs)

39. At
this time you can re-install the heat shields and the muffler supports
– remember to install the ground strap on each muffler hanger

40. Re-install
the bumper on the X5 carefully and align the 2 tabs on the side where
the bumper meets the fender wells – don’t forget the PDC wiring harness

41. Re-install the 8mm bolt from inside the fender well (1 on each side)

42. Re-install the 2 x T55 bolts back into the bumper and tighten to 55 lbs

Time to align the rear bumper

43. Use
a hydraulic jack or something suitable and position the bumper to the
right height and position – Use a protective cloth or towel to protect
the underside of the bumper

44. When the bumper is position correctly tighten the 4 x 16mm nuts from inside the cargo area (tighten to 55 lbs) (2 on each side)

45. Lower the jack or remove whatever you are supporting the bumper with and it should not move out of place

Bumper Disassembly

46. Remove all the plastic rivets that hold the bumper support beam to the bumper

47. Disconnected all the PDC connectors (total of 4) Only if you have PDC

48. Remove bumper support beam from the bumper

49. Remove PDC wiring from bumper support beam (5 white tabs)

Bumper Assembly

50. Inserted white tabs for PDC wiring into the new bumper support beam

51. Placed new bumper support beam into the bumper

52. Replace all plastic rivets

53. Reconnect all the PDC connectors (total of 4)

Reassemble the inside

54. Put everything back together on the inside by reversing steps 1 - 11

Test drive for fun and to make sure everything is tightened down

Check for PDC functions

Test trailer brake lights

Installation Pictures:

<HR style="WIDTH: 100%; HEIGHT: 2px">
BMW X5 Hitch

Instruction Annotations


After reading the feedback on the
Bimmer.org X5 message board, I
decided that installing the factory hitch was something I could do myself, even
though I'm not particularly mechanically inclined, and I've never done anything
with a car more complicated than change a tire (and that only a few months ago).
I've never even changed my own oil.

My experience was that the process was
lengthy (about four and a half hours) but straightforward. With a few
exceptions, noted below, the instructions were clear and correct, and told me
everything I needed to do. I had a friend help me with a few heavy lifting
tasks, and just generally to compare notes about ambiguous or unclear

I chose the BMW factory hitch (which FYI
is made by Holland Hitch: Westfalia then adds on the extra parts to complete the
package) largely because I needed their wiring harness anyway, and the cost of a
third party tow bar and the wiring harness wasn't much less than the BMW hitch.
And frankly it just seemed complicated and that a third party hitch might not be
quite as sturdy or well-attached as the BMW model. After this installation I am
convinced that a third party hitch would have to be a pretty good clone of the
BMW model to do as good a job, especially in the area of retaining superior
crash protection.

My next step is to get a electric brake
controller installed, I'll amend this document at that time.

I definitely recommend reading through
the entire BMW instuctions along with these annotations before doing anything. I
also recommend going through all the parts and looking at the vehicle itself and
doing a mental walkthrough (or visualization, if you like) of the process the
day before.

You don't have to be as

anal as this, but it helps

Note: These instructions assume you are
installing the BMW hitch wiring harness. However, they should be useful even if
you aren't

1. Important Information

Required Tools and aids

In addition to TORX screwdrivers T20 and
T55, a T45 is required.

I recommend a four inch (or so) ratchet

2 Retrofitting Tow bar


2.1 Necessary preliminary work

Disconnecting the battery requires
lifting the floor cover and unscrewing several items and covers above the
battery. I waited to do this until I started working on the wiring harness, when
those covers need to come off anyway. However since several cables need to be
disconnected before then, you may wish to be conservative and do so in the
beginning. To disconnect the battery, disconnect the negative terminal.

The "luggage compartment trim" refers to
the molded plastic pieces to the rear left and right of the spare tire. Note
that "rear" refers to rear of the vehicle, thus the "rear panel" refers to the
small vertically placed plastic panel between you and the spare tire when you
are standing behind the tailgate. Removing the rear panel is your first
experience with an annoying plastic fastener. I had the best luck with these by
using a knife or thin screwdriver to pry the top part of the fastener out, then
using pliers to remove that top part, which usually brought the bottom part
along with it. Otherwise use the pliers to remove the bottom part. No doubt
there's some fancy tool to remove these, but I don't have it.

Spare tired removed and

left (but not right) luggage compartment trim removed.

To remove the bumper, undo the two
brass-colored T-55 TORX screws under the bumper. Lying on your back with your
head under the bumper, you will see small indents beside each exhaust (or set of
exhausts in the case of the 4.4i). The screw is directly above this indent, in
fact the indent allows you to remove and replace the screws. You will also need
to remove the two small hex bolts on the bumper side of each rear wheel well,
and sort of dis-interleave the wheel well plastic from the bumper plastic. If
you have PDC, you'll need to disconnect the PDC cable before removing the bumper
- you can see where the cable goes into the rear of the car. Having two people
to remove the bumper is helpful but probably not necessary.

The bumper is removed

Removing the metallic impact absorbers
entails removing three pieces, which together form the black-painted steel
bolted to the body behind the bumper, two inserts and one plate. This requires
that T-45 screwdriver I mentioned previously.

Left impact absorber is

removed. The large black piece with the hole in it also needs to be removed.

The instructions call for removing the
mufflers, but simply dropping them about 6 inches (by removing the four
frontmost nuts holding it up) sufficed. Make sure you have something to rest
them on, as their tubes probably can't stand being dropped all the way to the
ground. The heat shields are held on by two nuts and two screws, both hex bolts.
Pull the heat shields out carefully so they don't deform.

Mufflers dropped and heat

shields removed

2.3 Installing tow bar


Although the instructions call for adding
the wiring harness before proceeding (and I did) I suspect that simply pulling
the wiring harness cable through to the car will suffice at this point, and that
you could finish the wiring after the hitch is installed and the bumper
replaced. But that's just a theory.

Getting everything positioned just right
is probably the only part of this process that absolutely requires two people,
unless you have a large assortment of positioning devices to help you.

Tow bar installed, wiring

harness attached


Here is your next opportunity to interact
with that magic annoying plastic fastener. Here it's easier because with most of
them you can push out the top part of the fastener by poking something through
the bottom part.

If you have the PDC you'll need to remove
your cable from the old bumper carrier, the just unplug and the cable holders
pull out easily.


If you have the PDC, reinstall the cable.

New bumper carrier

installed - detail of the PDC wiring


Mufflers and heat shields

reattached - ready for the bumper!

"(Previously removed TORX screws (12) are
now screwed to the tow bar. Tightening torque: 55Nm)"

I puzzled over this for a while before
realizing they were just talking about the two brass T-55 screws. Looking at the
illustration makes that clear, but somehow I didn't get it. They just screw back
in the same way they came out.

When replacing the bumper, make sure you
slide it in right so that it is even on both sides, and correctly aligned with
the wheel wells, and that the wheel well plastic and the bumper plastic gets
interleaved correctly. This is another place that having two people is helpful,
as there's a certain amount of jiggling back and forth to get it right.

If you have the PDC, don't forget to
route the PDC cable back in to the car (making sure that seal is attached just
right to keep it waterproof) and plug it in. I forget to plug mine in at first,
necessitating a small amount of unnecessary disassembly before I was done.

All done- the proud owner

(and installer) and his new hitch receiver

2.4 Installing additional wiring harness

Because I hadn't yet disconnected the
battery, I actually did this in the following order:






Disconnect the battery here.


The only tricky part here is realizing
that the X609 connector has a moving part - it slides to one side, allowing you
to align the trailer module next to the plugs, then it slides back, which
actually plugs the trailer module in. Very neat, actually, but I stared at it
for five minutes before I figured that one out.


Don't forget to reconnect the battery
when you're done!

<HR style="WIDTH: 100%; HEIGHT: 2px">
Additional advise is don’t tighten up the bumper support brackets unit the
two T55 bolts that hold the bumper on are in place and secured, then
align the bumper and tighten the bolts that secure the bumper brackets.
This step is about the hardest and you will need someone to hold the
bumper while you tighten the bolts. This will make more sense once you

reach this step.

<HR style="WIDTH: 100%; HEIGHT: 2px">
'nother Newbie Hitch Install



Picked up the install kit from Hank Aaron BMW Friday afternoon and
started 'bout 10:00 Saturday morning. From backing up on the ramps to
driving off was a little over 6 hours. A few things I learned that I

didn't know(or completely understand) beforehand:
  • There really are only two T55 bolts and two trim screws holding the bumper on.
  • There are two trim screws in each rear wheel well and only the bottom screw in each needs to be removed.
  • It's a bear locating where the PDC harness enters the body. On our 2002, it's in the passenger side corner.
  • A pair of small jack stands works well to support the mufflers.
  • You really need at least two people - preferably three - to pull off and replace the bumper.
  • A
    door panel tool works pretty good at removing the "dammit" plastic
    fasteners. Just work it up under the pin's head and pry up. When the
    pin pulls up far enough to release the fastener, the whole assembly
    pops out.
  • Definitely install the wiring harness before
    mounting the hitch and be darn sure it's in the right position before
    bolting the hitch down
  • The
    mounting tab for the trailer light socket had to be "encouraged"
    rearward slightly with a 4 ft. pry bar to allow room for the bracket to
    fit. That was the only "fit" issue that I had.
  • The vehicle
    side trailer harness connector has a dummy connector on it that must be
    removed. Took me five minutes to figure that one out...

A few observations:
  • Yes
    - the OEM kit is expensive, but IMO, well worth the price now that I've
    seen it. I've installed at least a half dozen aftermarket hitches over
    the years, so I know what you get for $150 - $200 and there's no
  • This is a big job - I'd definitely recommend
    getting the help of a couple friends. $500 - $600 labor to get the
    dealer to do the install is probably not a bad deal.
  • I
    found a Stanley Torx bit kit at Wally World that included all three
    necessary bits for $20. Not Snap-On quality, but at 50 years old, this
    is the first time that I've ever needed a T55
  • The little rubber plug with "BMW" on it is so cool!
I made a run to Home Depot Saturday evening to pick up some pine bark
mulch for the lovely wife. The X did a fine job pulling the trailer.
With the light load('bout 1,000 lbs.), the 3.0 hardly noticed.

Thanks to everyone that answered my questions and convinced me to go with the OEM kit. Maybe someone will find my notes useful.


<HR style="WIDTH: 100%; HEIGHT: 2px">

I did the OEM hitch install last weekend, too. I have an 04 4.4
with the Sport Package. Here are some pointers that should be helpful
to the next person:

1. Before attempting to remove the T55 bolts, loosen the two rear sets
of muffler brackets until the exhaust tips just touch the bottom of the
opening in the plastic valance. I completely removed the rear-most
brackets and backed off the nuts as far as possible on the next
brackets forward. This provides more room to get the T55 bit and
ratchet above the exhaust tips and into the bolts.

2. The two brackets that supported the original bumper are held in
place with three studs/nuts. Looking at the rear of the brackets, you
can see the where the studs are welded to the brackets. The nuts are
inside the trunk space. You will see rectangular ridges/protrusions in
the body running from the vicinity of the brackets to the front of the
trunk space. The nuts are above and on either side of the rectangular
protrusion. The one above also holds the black bracket. You have to
feel around between both sides of the protrusion and the black bracket
for the other two.

3. There are heavy plastic sleeves inside the bumper brackets. The T55
bolts pass through them. You will need them for the new bumper.

4. It helped to test fit the new metal bumper on the bumper brackets
using the T55 bolts before installing the plastic outer shell. I think
this makes it easier to do the final installation.

5. The new bumper can be installed by one person using a tie-down strap
(nylon with hooks on either end). I ran the tie-down from one of the
rear door supports to the top lip of the metal bumper. I used it to
hold one side up while I threaded the plastic outer bumper onto the
tongue-and-groove bracket on the other side. Then I removed the
tie-down and threaded the other side. Piece of cake!

Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences. They were a huge help to me!

<HR style="WIDTH: 100%; HEIGHT: 2px">

Here are some Tips.
Between the Mfr's instructions, and the instructions here on X5world,...plus common mechanical sense, you will be alright:

1) Do not start late in the evening if you desire to finish that day.

2) You'll need patience in spades, as this is moderate surgery, as there will be parts everywhere.

3) Glance over the mfr's instructions first,...then read the instructions on X5 World. Now procede to dropping that bumper.

4) For rear inner wheel weld screws (I think they're 8mm), you only need to remove the bottom screw on each side. Trust me.

5) Best already have a T20, T45 and T55 Torx drivers, or you'll be
looking at that bumper for a very long time. I used the T20 once, but
forgot where in the sequence of things.

6) Don't even think about removing the bumper until you have done the following:

A) Remove the rear floor deck

B) Parcel tray too if you have one

C) Tire chocks and holder

D) Left and right aft trim pieces. They have 10mm black plastic nuts securing them.

E) Once the left aft trim is removed you can then unplug the PDC connector - if applicable.

F) remove spare tire -....duh!

G) Remover battery cover and refer to Mfr's instructions for installing that control module gizmo.

H) While you're in that area,...you'll see a large black connector -
that's the male end of the tow harness - remove the black filler cap. I
wasted 30 minutes on that stupid plug.

I) Disconnet the PDC connector - Remember that BMWs have those
self-disconnecting plugs. Once you unlock the lever, the level will
disengage the connector.

*) Say what you will, but I did not disconnet the battery - your call on yours.

7) After you have removed the T55 bolts, the bumper will come off,..a
bit stubborn but it'll bulge. Hint,...pull hard, but slow,...be ready
to support the bumper's weight. Beer friend up!

8) No need to remove mufflers - Once you remove the 13mm nuts at
the hangers, the mufflers will hang low enough and out of the way. Same
for the heat shield. Hint - place nuts, bolts, and screws, etc near
outside of rear tires, as all work will be done aft of the tires.

9) You'll need a 6" and 3" 3/8 drive extensions to get the 3 nuts
off of the bumper shock absorber assembly bolts. I forget get the
socket size. Where are nuts? Just look at the bolt pattern from the
rear and follow the line to the interior. That's where the bolts' nuts
are. Also, see those 2 holes on top of the uni-body frame rail(s).
That's where 4 (the short ones) of those large silver assembly bolts
will be inserted into the tow frame supports. -2 per side.

10) Remove the original support hardware from the X. Everything
should come right off. Also, go ahead and analyze how the bumper cover
fits,...as you will need this knowlege going the other way.

11) Now, to install the heavy-azz tow hitch. Install the frame
rail supports ("L" on left side, and "R" on right wide. You can tack
them down with the bolts that mount above the heat shields and the 12
o'clock and 5 o'clock bolts. Insert the other long bolts into the
bumper mounting brakets. Place the long end of the bracket down (Here,
BMW could have marked with an "L" and an "R" and an arrow (or a dowel).
The 4 other long bolts secure these. Those nuts with washers attached
fasten to the 9 and 3 o'clock bolts and the 12 o'clock bolts of the
main hitch mounting points.

12) Most everything here is academic, as you should now have a clearer vision of the assembly process.

13) Mounting the new bumper reimforcement - Don't even think about
using the old one - BMW ensured that it won't work. May have been a
weight saving issue - who knows. Once you eyeball the way the bumper
reinforcements is asembled, you'll quickly grasp the process to remove
the old and install the new one - It's secured with a ton of push-pins.

14) Once you have all bolts hand started, you'll need a 17mm
socket to tighten them down. Make 'em tight, not tight 'til the bolt
sheers. The torque specs was 55ft-lbs,...if I recall correctly.

15) Some things I didn't mention as they are easy to figure out.
That said, with the DIY instructions on X5 World, the OEM instructions,
and these few words, I wish you much success. Lastly, I'll leave you
with this, you'll be an expert when you're done.


...not that I will, but it can!

BMW Towing Airstream - http://www.xoutpost.com/showthread.php?t=640

Differences between OEM and Aftermarket hitch - http://www.xoutpost.com/148951-post7.html

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