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During the E46 generation, only the 5 series had a heated steering wheel. To do the conversion you need a 5 series heated slip ring, the control button on the right side and a heated 5 series steering wheel which has the bonus of being bigger.
The LEDs for the 5 series switches are the bulb type and the E46 has brighter surface mount LEDs. So to get the LEDs right I needed to swap out the LEDs to get the LED brightness the same.
Right now I am using the heated steering wheel every day.
On the 2009s 3 series in Canada the heated steering wheel is now a $250 option.
 

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Uhm...I noticed that the X5 and later years E39 have the identical dual stage airbag and wheel as the post 1999 E46 cars. Can I get around all the bits and ends of this DIY and just swap in an entire X5 steering wheel (airbag and all) with the heated switch button in my E46 without having to buy the slip ring, fuses, relays or extra parts?

Does everything plug and play?






2003 X5 steering wheel


E46 steering wheel
 

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OK first off let me say Thanks to JAckboot a fellow fanatic here I would have never thought of attempting this:

First off you need these parts:

P/N: 61 31 6 922 855 - Cruise control / heated wheel switch (I bought off ebay for about $40)
P/N: 61 31 8 379 091 - Slip ring (I bought off ebay for about $50)
A 4-spoke Heated steering wheel from an E39 5-series. I paid $200 shipped brand new off ebay (I lucked out on this one let me tell you.

And Lastly in order to give power to the slip ring and wheel for the heated function to work I made a relay similar to ones used for DDE's, angel eyes whatever you want to call them. A 4 or 5 pin relay will work just fine. Here are some pictures of the parts and while I was at it I decided to replace the signal stalk as well seeing as how my car was not equiped with the clock functions. I have quite a few more pictures for please interrupt my post until I am finished Thanks.
Great write up! Would you happen to know what year the steering wheel is?
 

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Now that you have assembled the new slip ring you may reconnect it to the steering column and plug the slip ring and wiper/signal connections back. Now in order to feed the new slipring power I had made a relay similar to my Angel Eyes relay. I connected the relay to the + and - posts under the hood exactly like the angel eyes and connected the remote on to accessory wire exactly like the angel eyes. Make sure you fuse the + line ( I used a 5 Amp fuse). Now in order to get the + and - to the 2 pin connector on the back of the new slip ring I shaved down one of these computer hard drive power connectors from a 4 pin to a 2 pin and it worked like a charm. So once you are finished making your relay plug it in to the 2 pin connector on the slipring. + was the pin on the right and - was on the left.

Are you saying that you opened the Slipring to connect the wires leaving the wheel from the inside of the sliprings front cover or is this connection joined on backside of the rear cover of the slipring?

It is hard to tell in the picture.


Okay, And that BMW Parts# 61318379091 for the Slipring comes up as all years E46, X3, X5, Z3, Z4 and seems to have absolutely nothing to do with whether the car has heated wheels or not. RealOEM implies this AND Tischer at GetBMWParts backs it up. That parts number seems to have nothing to do with the heated element. Plus I see alot of 61318379091 P/N Slip Rings on eBay where the seller's claim that the Rings specifically DO NOT come from heated steering wheels meaning it would obviously not work in this DIY.

Also I see lots of other P/N of slip rings from X3s and X5s that do not come up on ebay but don't exist anywhere else. At this stage of frustrations it just seems best to do a search for "slip ring clock spring heated X3 X5 wheel" than juggling Area 51 parts numbers that don't exist at all or exists everywhere?!

OP...whats the deal man!? Talk to me...
 

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okay to clarify most of what the OP failed to mention.

I was extremely lucky enough to come across a complete 4 spoke heated wheel from a 2006 X3:

First off understanding the purpose and concept of the Slip Ring takes a bit of time, especially if you NEVER seen or heard of it before. This device is pretty much the gateway of everything that goes from your steering wheel into the car. Its design enables wires to cross into the car without being shredded or twisted every time you turn the steering wheel.

That said, this little bugger seems to be immortal and omnipresent in the BMW Parts Bin from the 1995 E38 7 series all the way to the 2010 X3 E83 series and found with in pretty much ALL BMW's from E36s to E46s X5s, to Z4s and M6s, etc... over all those years.

Now the stumper for me was understanding why the P/N never changed for year/car model AND more importantly function: I currently have two slip rings with the EXACT parts number in front of me as I type this and one is from a 2001 E38 740il with a heated wheel and the other is from my 2001 E46 car that originally came with a non-heated wheel. ( :facepalm: to BMW)

So my advice for Slip Ring seekers is all Parts Numbers reasoning goes out the door and you are pretty much left asking around for a Slip Ring that specifically came from a car with a heated wheel. This can take a while, even with eBay at your fingertips and a large Junk Yard full of BMWs in your city.

If you can cop a Slip Ring at the same time you cop its corresponding heated wheel (IE. a salvage car) then you are lucky.

Here is a proper pictorial break down of the Slip Ring (the picture shows a Slip Ring from a regular E46 with a non-heated wheel but I mark off where the heated wheel is different):






I highly recommend getting a Heated Wheel from either an 2004+ X5 or X3. Older E39 and E38 Steering Wheel button pods use tiny amber orange bulbs for the button's back light instead of the E46's pure amber led back lighting thus a mismatch may possibly occur in your dash if you use an older Wheel w/ button pods. Also older pre-2001 and pre-2000 5 and 7 series may have the single stage airbags that will not work in the E46.

Now this is the wheel below that I have is from a 2006 X3. Your Heated Wheel must look like. Note the heated function button. It is NOT a circle with arrows (those wheels are for the AC Recirculation) but on the heated wheel it is an icon of the steering wheel with wavy lines.







The wiring behind the airbag and pods can be intimidating but it is not so bad once you study them for a minute or two. Everything plugs into where it should via key plugs that are shaped specific to what they plug into so you can't mess that up.









Now this part is completely unlisted at Realoem and doesn't seem to have a specific BMW Parts Number that I could find. I call it Jason Bourne.

Jkidding for purposes of my DIY I call it the Heater Harness.

Which is what it is.

It is INTEGRAL to the heated wheel as it connects all the main parts (power/ground from the Slip Ring to heat button to heater element in wheel) inside the steering wheel belly. You MUST make sure your wheel comes with this attached or on the side. I cannot direct you to any BMW P/N for it.







Once you have the Wheel hooked up to the Heater Harness, which will also be connected to the button pods, you need to attach the two pin connector to the Slip Ring's two pin receptacle that is found ONLY on Slip Rings from car's with heated steering wheels.








After you understand how to secure all the front connections on the front of Slip Ring then we move onto backside of the Slip Ring.

Here we will connect up all three corresponding connectors going into the car.

On the backside of the Slip Ring the two bigger 6pin and 4 pin connectors from the front exit the back of ring in one bigger 10 pin connector going into the car.

The 2 pin connector socket and input holes will be present on the Slip Ring from the heated wheel but for the DIY we will need to add a connector that plugs into it that will bring power and ground to the heated wheel element.

Here we come to the final stage of the DIY. You will have to purchase a pin 2 connector w/ pig tail splices from your dealership (aka BMW Parts # 61 13 8 352 580 for 2-pin plug and 61 13 0 006 6630.75 for mm2 contact). These are about $1 each or less.

Some folks before me, like the OP, used a modified homemade connector to create a 2 pin plug. You can do that if you want to and have the skills to do that but I decided $1 or 2 spent at the dealership to save me a couple of hours spent pulling parts from a smashed up computer wouldn't break the bank.

As of now I'm still working out where a power source will come from and if and how I would add an inline 10 AMP Fuse and/or a Relay to the power wire.



BTW: Delmarco's PICTORIAL DIY for the Heated Wheel Retrofit will be coming soon! :hi:
 
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