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Old 05-04-2018, 08:50 AM   #1
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Tow Hitch Help for BMW X5 xDrive35i Sport

Hi everybody. I need some help. First off i am new to towing and can say i know nothing about it I plan to get either a Sport 22 or Flying Cloud 20 FB. I have a few questions...
1. Hitch, where do i start I have no clue what hitch i should get. I will also need the wiring done as well. My BMW has neither. I am not capable of adding oil to my car so i am not the guy to do the instal . I have been reading some say don't let the BMW dealer (I'm in seattle) do the instal and some say make sure you let the dealer do the instal. I have been very happy with my dealer over the years if that makes a difference.
2. I keep reading about sway bars or stabilizers i don't know what that is but i am sure i want them after reading that they help.

So....... any help will do. what hitch, where to have the instal done and do the stabilizers come with the hitch or is that something completely separate.
Sorry for such a newbie question i just don't know where to start.

any advice will do!

thank you

Brad
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Old 05-04-2018, 09:55 AM   #2
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Welcome!

First, some terminology.

You need a hitch receiver (installed on the vehicle); electrical connections for lights, etc; a brake controller; and a weight-distributing hitch that helps control sway.

For the receiver, it depends on the series of your X5, which relates to the year of production. For early X5 models (E53) the BMW hitch was the only one to use. For the E70, there is a BMW hitch or an aftermarket, eg Curt or equivalent. For the F15, the latest series, the BMW hitch has a removable swan neck, and isn’t appropriate for weight distributing equipment. For that series, use something like the Curt.

For any choice of receiver, recommend you use the BMW trailer wiring module. It plus in to your vehicle, and includes a harness to connect the trailer. It doesn’t include a brake controller. If you buy a BMW hitch it comes with the module in the install kit. The BMW module has the ability to recognize when a trailer is connected, and adds a trailer stability control mode to the DSC on the vehicle. You have to get it from the dealer. The dealer installs it, or a good independent garage with appropriate tooling, since reprogramming of the vehicle may be required to to get the car software to recognize the module. Worth doing.

For a brake controller, there are many choices. BMW has published technical instructions on how to install it to the vehicle, or you can use a wireless one. Dealers often aren’t familiar with trailer brake controllers, since their technician training comes from BMW and Europe doesn’t use trailer brake controllers.

For a WD hitch, there are many choices. Each has their following, and the choice isn’t dependent on your X5.

Get a dealer install price quote. Some dealers seem to charge a lot. I installed several hitches on these vehicles (but not the F15) and it takes several hours. If you have a good dealer, by all means use them.

You will also want wider mirrors. Not available from BMW, several choices available.

Good luck

Jeff
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Old 05-04-2018, 10:19 AM   #3
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Another point to raise. You will hear about reinforcing the hitch receiver on vehicles like the X5. This is sometimes done because the vehicle has far more capability than the standard receiver has capacity to accept weight distribution equipment. It matters with larger and heavier trailers. Personally, I would not plan to reinforce a receiver on an X5 to tow a Sport 22 or something similar. Some may differ, and that is fine. I would reinforce it if I was planning on towing an AS27, for example.
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Old 05-04-2018, 10:33 AM   #4
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Jeff that was very very helpful! thank you for all that information. Lots to looks at and think about. Who knew it would be this hard... and thats just for the hitch!
stay tuned and thanks again.
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Old 05-04-2018, 10:51 AM   #5
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jeff i forgot to tell you my X5 is a 2014. so which model is it E53, E70 or F15. now that you know that which Hitch receiver (see i am learning ) do you suggest
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley G View Post
Jeff that was very very helpful! thank you for all that information. Lots to looks at and think about. Who knew it would be this hard... and thats just for the hitch!
stay tuned and thanks again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley G View Post
jeff i forgot to tell you my X5 is a 2014. so which model is it E53, E70 or F15. now that you know that which Hitch receiver (see i am learning ) do you suggest
A 2014 would be an F15 chassis. I would go with the aftermarket hitch installed by a reputable shop and then let BMW do the wiring/coding. Along with the stability control features, there is also a mode for the rear camera to make hitching up easier that may or may not already be coded as active on your vehicle. If it isn't they will code it and you'll be happy you have it.

And if you think this is hard wait to you have to reverse with a trailer. Haha
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:56 AM   #7
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how do you guys feel about this hitch

https://www.curtmfg.com/trailer-hitches/rv-towing

i went to Curt put in 2014 BMW X5 under the RV towing and this is what came up.

sorry i know i am a pain in the a$$ but i want to make sure this will do the trick

i know i need the 7 pin wiring but before that i want to get the hitch right.
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:56 AM   #8
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My 2 cents:

Get an aftermarket hitch from an online source
Get the OEM wiring from an online source (you do not have to go to dealer to get OEM parts)
Get it installed at reputable hitch shop (check yelp, etc.), installation should not take more than 3-4 hours, the harness is literally plug and play
Get it coded by somebody from your area or remotely - mine was coded by somebody from Europe
Get OEM tow mirrors (where available, I prefer BMW OEM solutions) - as mentioned above, the mirrors may not be available in the US, but could be available in Europe / Canada. I got mine from Europe, but this was for E70 model.
Enjoy towing - BMW X5 is such a good tow vehicle
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Old 05-04-2018, 12:10 PM   #9
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thanks for the mirror advice. can you tell me where (a link) that you got your mirrors?
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Old 05-04-2018, 12:40 PM   #10
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Curt and Drawtite both make hitches for the 2014. I don't know which is stronger. etrailer shows them.

https://www.etrailer.com/hitch-2014_BMW_X5.htm

What you don't want is the removable one that execuhitch sells, and that BMW sells.

You don't want the electrical module that etrailer sells, it is a generic wiring kit and doesn't interface with the BMW electronics. It would work the lights, but not the added vehicle features. You want the OEM version (Original Equipment Manufacturer), which means that BMW made it (and set the price accordingly). I would get it from the dealer, but check prices. This might not be the exact right one, because parts can be updated from time to time, but it shows the concept.

https://www.ecstuning.com/b-genuine-...s/82712349500/

and another

https://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-1...uine-bmw-part/

I shop at my dealer because I have a good relationship with them, and want to support them. Not all dealers are reported to be as worthy of support.

The coding is straightforward. They are not adding programming, but rather updating the vehicle build list. The module is supposed to be plug and play (like an accessory in a computer case) but often the component is not recognized and you get warning lights. The coding is to go into the vehicle consist list with the service tool and say "the trailer module is now installed" by checking that box. That's it. Once the vehicle knows the module is there, all the built in programming is accessible. That is based on my work on models up to the E70, I presume the F15 is the same since it is built on the E70 chassis (but is just different enough to get a new series number).

You noted you have a sport model. When the hitch receiver is installed, it may or may not interfere with the trim under the rear bumper, because sport models may have a larger rear apron. The solution is to trim it. It isn't a big deal IMO. I trimmed my X3 rear apron closer than BMW recommended, and it ended up very neat.

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Old 05-04-2018, 12:55 PM   #11
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I got this from a local dealer and somebody visiting me just brought them to the US. You can check EMUK manufacturer - this is the manufacturer that provides mirrors to BMW.

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thanks for the mirror advice. can you tell me where (a link) that you got your mirrors?
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:21 PM   #12
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Mirrors for the F15 are available from Europe. Do an Internet search to find them. Aero2 or Aero3 are available in the US off the shelf. Consider getting the bigger mirror size. Note - they may crack your mirror housing if you crank them down too tight. MacKeesh mirrors from Hensley are best, but attach to door and may not be to your preference.

Have the Kurt receiver installed - works well. I believe Bono has the Drawtite and is happy with it as well. This unit replaces the rear bumper cross member and requires the bumper cover to be removed to install the hitch. You want - oversized mounting plates, the most rigid assemble you can find, and a receiver that is well braced. All have a different opinion on this. The Execuhitch actuall has some well designed components. They just don't support WDH tech. I'd stay away, but an engineer could pick and choose some good components. Cost is $2-300. Install is $4-600 including the lighting module and the 7 pin plug/harness. You need the dealer to provide the wire color designation to set up the 7 pin socket correctly. They can fax it to your installer.

Get the lighting module and cable set from your dealer. It is not cheap, but best alternative for the F15. As Bono says, you can get it from an Internet BMW provider. They will run you about $600 from the dealer. Install was about $200 as part of the hitch install. We needed no programming. It was plug and play, but there is a towing programming upgrade the dealer can install.

You also need a LED simulator module. It simulates a standard incandescent bulb resistance so the lighting module recognizes the LEDs on the Airstream. It plugs into the 7 pin lighting umbilical connector. It's about $30.

Best brake module solution is the Prodigy Tekonsha RF controller. You can have the AS dealer provide and install. Assume $600. It's about half that if you buy internet and install yourself.

Lot's to save if you DIY. Lots of problems can be saved if you pay a good shop, but it's pricy.

WDH - Least expensive is the Eaz-Lift. Short overhang and good flexibility. Issue is you need to install friction strut sway control. About $250 for the hitch and $50 for a strut, but this hitch would be my recommendation. Negotiate the install as a throw-in with trailer purchase. The dealer will try to sell you Equal-i-zer or Blue Ox. Do not buy the EQ, because it is too stiff. BO is a great hitch, but is 2X the price of the EZ. Value is no need to adjust a sway strut when backing.

Hope to see your smile down the road. Pat
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:56 PM   #13
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Bono has oem hitch with reinforcement
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Old 05-04-2018, 04:21 PM   #14
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Bono has oem hitch with reinforcement
Well, you slipped that one by me and I thought the attention switch was turned on. My appology for the incorrect information.

Unfortunately, like JCL noted, the OEM hitch is a no go for the F15. Initially they did not offer the correct size ball for an AS. Now they have an option to allow other sizes, but don't support WDH applications.

OP, these guys have fought the wars and can help you get where you need to be. Pat
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Old 05-05-2018, 11:19 AM   #15
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Reach out to Andy Thomson at CanAm RV in London, Ontario Canada. He is acknowledged in the Airstream community as a "go to" guy for his towing expertise.

In July of 2017 inquired with Andy about preferred SUV's for towing and his reply, in part, referenced the BMW X5: "The most popular one we are doing at the moment is the BMW X5 as you can still get a 3.0 Litre diesel in it. It handles as nicely as the Porsche"

Andy can be reached via email or phone through the link I provided above.


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Old 08-25-2018, 03:02 PM   #16
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As the owner of an F15 MY2018 X5d, looking at buying our first AS, I can't thank you all enough for this thread. I only wish that I had searched for it earlier this week, BEFORE I let BMW sell me and install the OEM hitch (with controller, wiring harness and both the gooseneck with ball and 2" square adapters.

I've since (today) had the OEM removed by a reputable hitch company, and a Curt Class III hitch installed in its place. All of the BMW wiring (harness and "controller") remain.

My question to you folks who have been through this war as well: Do you still need a separate after-market trailer brake controller? Or, will the BMW controller do this through the 7-Pin?

Thanks, in advance. Putting a deposit on a 22FB Sport on Monday. Can't wait to join this club after a long time of being a follower.
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Old 08-25-2018, 03:43 PM   #17
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I've since (today) had the OEM removed by a reputable hitch company, and a Curt Class III hitch installed in its place. All of the BMW wiring (harness and "controller") remain.

My question to you folks who have been through this war as well: Do you still need a separate after-market trailer brake controller? Or, will the BMW controller do this through the 7-Pin?
I haven’t worked on an F15, just earlier X5 models. For those, BMW didn’t offer a brake controller. There was an electronic module, but it was for the wiring interface, not the brakes. Did the BMW dealer list a brake controller on the invoice? Is it mounted where the driver can reach it? If so, which one?

If not, you still need one. But I suspect that there is nothing to remove, you still need the wiring interface module they installed.
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Old 08-26-2018, 06:10 AM   #18
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They've installed something called the "B-Control Unit for Trailer Hi", BMW Part #71606889589.
Can't find much information when searching the part number, and of course the dealer failed to leave any of the accompanying literature in the vehicle. I asked "where is the brake control unit?", and the service manager indicated that it was all a part of the wiring.

Could it be that the F15 is just so technically advanced that you don't need a separate controller? My guess is that all this part does is somehow communicate with the trailer lights, but I can't find a definitive answer.
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Old 08-26-2018, 10:30 AM   #19
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They've installed something called the "B-Control Unit for Trailer Hi", BMW Part #71606889589.
Can't find much information when searching the part number, and of course the dealer failed to leave any of the accompanying literature in the vehicle. I asked "where is the brake control unit?", and the service manager indicated that it was all a part of the wiring.

Could it be that the F15 is just so technically advanced that you don't need a separate controller? My guess is that all this part does is somehow communicate with the trailer lights, but I can't find a definitive answer.
No, you still need a brake controller. That is the wiring interface adaptor. It takes input from the multiplexed light/turn/brake lights and provides power to the umbilical connector. It also senses when a trailer umbilical is connected, and then enables the Trailer Stability Control mode in the DSC, turns off the rear park sensors so they don’t beep continually, changes the rear view camera, and so on. That part number is the updated number for the one I installed years ago in a 2003 X5.

BMW has offered a rebranded commercial trailer brake controller at times, but you can use any one. BMW show theirs mounted on the centre console near the transmission selector.

https://www.shopbmwusa.com/Product/2...AKE-CONTROLLER

Note that the BMW round connector on the umbilical has a pin for the brake controller, it just isn’t connected. The service manager is confused, but that isn’t unusual on this subject. BMW service training and service manuals are developed in Europe, and Europe doesn’t use electric trailer brakes as a matter of course.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:23 AM   #20
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We decided the RF brake control was the best standard solution. It mounts as an umbilical pass through on the trailer and just requires the remote brake control to be powered from a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug in the X5. No wiring required. There are (3) 12 volt plugs within reach, so no conflict with other power requirements. The RF configuration lets you hold the brake control in your lap or place it in a similar accessible location so a reach is not required in an emergency.

Moving to trailer disk brakes and the anti-lock brake technology that is available with individual wheel braking for sway control sounds like the most effective system if an upgrade path is viable.

Good luck with your coach. Enjoy the smiles. Pat
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