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Guide To Your BMW E46 HVAC Automatic Climate Control Upgrade
Compliments of delmarco @ www.bimmerfest.com
Starting during the production month/year of 03/2003 BMW Redesigned the Automatic HVAC Climate Control in the E46 cabin. The new style units are plug and play swappable with the older units and in fact replace the older units completely. If you 1998 to 03/2003 BMW E46 was bought secondhand and came with a new style unit this means that the original HVAC unit failed on the original or previous owners and was replaced under warranty or other with a new style unit.
Main Reasons to do this upgrade:
1. Aesthetics of button layout on new style units make more visual and functional sense.
2. Due to the MUCH smaller footprint that the new style climate control uses in the radio/dash area cavity those looking to free up space for Navigation Retrofits, Dynavin and other wire-intensive double din projects will find lots more free space behind the dash with a new style control than the bulky older style.
3. It may add the Auto-Turn-On feature that the newer HVAC Climate Control have to your car. So when you enter the car the Climate Control will turn on by itself and automatically regulate the cabin temperature.
The aesthetics of the new style units are arguably cleaner and better looking; the vertical placements of fan speed and temp hi/lo buttons on the new style units are the main visual difference compared to the horizontal placement of the same buttons on the older style units.
Having the buttons in vertical column layout make it easier to use and having the Auto and MAX AC/Recirculation buttons at the bottom and central location make pressing them while driving easier than having these buttons spaced apart in separate lateral locations.
At the end of the day either style may suit your needs and it may come down to opinions of taste so I'm only suggesting this as an upgrade for someone looking to facelift their old style control and/or looking to free up dash space behind the radio area since the new style climate control is much smaller in the back than the old one.
Those looking to fix, replace or upgrade older units can do so with simply buying a new style unit and plugging it in.
Comparing to old to the new style on E46 cars with the BMW Business CD53 Radios...
...On cars with BMW 16:9 Navigation Computer Screens.
Below you see the dramatic difference in size between the units when removed from the car. Upgrading to the smaller newer unit may aide in those trying to install navigation or media screen units and are looking to free up space behind the console dash area.
The New 03/2003 - 2006 Style BMW E46 Automatic Climate Control is BMW P/N 64116956319. This is the P/N that the dealership stocks but you may find other P/N on the used parts market.