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Want to extend a belated shout out to Tanya/OCLES,INC who pulled a seat-back panel off her own e23 to sell me. Had been looking worldwide for a beige replacement panel for 18 months with zero success. She had it in my hands in about 3 days. Outstanding! Who does that?

-- BFH, Colorado
    
Tech Article

BMW E38 Navigation system

Last Updated: 06/18/2019
   
Parts Group: Navigation system component
There are four versions of the OEM GPS Navigation system that were optional on the BMW E38: MKI, MKII, MKIII, and MKIV. Of these units, the most desirable is the MKIV if only for the fact that map data comes on 2 DVDs as opposed to the 8 CDs required by the 3 earlier units. This means less visits to the back of the car to swap discs. The MKIV is also the fastest performing of all of the units available and has advanced features not available in the earlier versions. This DVD ROM unit is trunk mounted and also contains the navigation processing unit within the housing of the disc drive. There's also a plastic bezel trim piece that fits around the opening of the drive which is a separate BMW part number. Other BMW models using this same family of navigation computers include the E39, E46, E53, and E83.

Getting a MKIV Nav unit to work on a car that came with a previous version requires some retrofitting. Different hardware and procedures are required depending on the version of the unit the car originally came with. Cars before 2001 came with 4x3 aspect ratio displays. It's trivial to swap one with a 16x9 unit off a 2001 model as the display lacks logic and will simply stretch to make up any difference in output.

Software upgrades for these units have continued long past the production cycle of the E38. There exists official BMW software upgrades for the unit as well as user made upgrades which unlock additional features of the Nav system. New software can be downloaded by the end user to their PC, burnt to a CD (the DVD drive will read CDs and the software update isn't large enough to require the storage capacity of a DVD), and installed on the unit. The original 2001 map DVD discs will work with the unit, as will any later map packs released by BMW. These map packs usually cost a few hundred dollars when purchased new from BMW but can be found used for considerably less. Someone worried about the condition of their disks may choose to make ISO images of the DVDs as backups. User burned copies of the map DVDs should work assuming the disc is burned on the lowest speed setting as older and slower DVD drives of the MK IV era struggle to read discs burned at modern speeds.

We recommend the excellent technical article on this Nav system at e39source.com so much that we reached out to the site's owner for permission to link to it below:

https://e39source.com/archives/797
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