tezarc
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2014 1:59 am

I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Tue Jul 06, 2021 3:56 pm

Those of us that own an i3 with a 3G Telematics module (TCU) have been told by BMW that we're out of luck and there is no "technology upgrade" available to keep ConnectedDrive services running past Feb 2022. I received the email from ConnectedDrive services stating as much and I'd get free services until the end date, even though I had already renewed service until Nov 2021, so 3 months free. Some laughed it off and have let their subscriptions lapse long ago. I for one like the ability to set the car to cool before I get to the door, and real time traffic is very useful to avoid jams along my routes.

I read posts of the 4G TCU part number that directly replaces the 3G TCU, posts of other BMW model owners talking about the upgrade and a single post of an i3 owner that got their broken 3G TCU replaced with a 4G one under warranty. I decided to get my 3G TCU replaced when I brought my i3 in for HV battery warranty test (see other post). All out of pocket.

I gave the service rep the 4G TCU part number (84-10-6-836-777) to order because I was not sure they would install if I bought it outside of their supply chain, and put the work order to replace the 3G one and program its replacement. At first they sound unsure that this could be done but I replied that the only thing needed to be done is to program with ISTA+, which I don't have access to and no expertise to use it. Maybe contact ConnectedDrive in addition.

So when I went to take back the car to await the arrival of the replacement battery modules they've already replaced the TCU, and I successfully activated cooling as I walked to the car. They gave me the 3G TCU as a keepsake, and I managed to query the tech that performed the upgrade. Sure enough, the only thing they had to do is program the TCU using ISTA+. Looks like it is a drop in replacement.

I still need to contact ConnectedDrive to make sure they don't deactivate my VIN when Feb 2022 rolls around but it has been working fine for about a month now. All it cost is ~$1400 parts and labor. I'm sure if you order the TCU online and/or have access to ISTA+ the costs would be lower than having the dealership do everything but this proves:

TL;DR:
BMW is full of it when they tell you that there is no way to upgrade your TCU. They just don't want to put up any money even for a discount.

Here are pics of the work order, plus old and new module and its connectors.
https://imgur.com/a/YOFzFSh
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alohart
Posts: 2432
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:36 pm
Location: Honolulu, HI

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Tue Jul 06, 2021 6:03 pm

Thanks for exposing BMW's dishonesty!

As a fellow 2014 BEV owner, I don't value Internet connectivity enough to pay a BMW dealer to replace our 3G module with the 4G version. I could probably replace the module myself and might be able to figure out how to use ISTA+ to make it work, but the ~$600 cost of a new module, and even the possibility of finding a used one for less, it still more than I want to spend on a 7 year old i3 with a significantly degraded battery pack.
Aloha,
Art

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eNate
Posts: 767
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Tue Jul 06, 2021 8:05 pm

That's awesome!

I take it your screen continues to indicate 3G?

Now the question, how to work with BMW to get the parts at a fair discount.
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MKH
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Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:21 am

I wonder if the BMW Dealer has to do anything 'special' in registering the modem with BMW, other than programming it to the car with ISTA+?? Does ISTA programming pass on/register the new phone/ID number to the BMW Connected Drive server? Or is there some extra registration step that must be done by a BMW Dealer??

If not, would be pretty easy to DIY the modem swap, and then have an indy BMW shop just program it for you, to keep the cost more reasonable.
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tezarc
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2014 1:59 am

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Wed Jul 07, 2021 7:14 am

alohart wrote:
Tue Jul 06, 2021 6:03 pm
it still more than I want to spend on a 7 year old i3 with a significantly degraded battery pack.
If you have been on the i3 subreddit there is an effort by a user "AgentMi" and company to bring 3rd party upgrade packs in a few years that I'm rooting for. I don't plan on getting rid of this car but I totally get your point. I wasn't putting a lot of effort/money into the car when it had a battery pack that degraded either.
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EvanstonI3
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:11 pm

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:13 am

MKH wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:21 am
I wonder if the BMW Dealer has to do anything 'special' in registering the modem with BMW, other than programming it to the car with ISTA+?? Does ISTA programming pass on/register the new phone/ID number to the BMW Connected Drive server? Or is there some extra registration step that must be done by a BMW Dealer??

If not, would be pretty easy to DIY the modem swap, and then have an indy BMW shop just program it for you, to keep the cost more reasonable.
I read in some other BMW forum about someone upgrading his 2011... something to 3G after 2G went away.
His story was pretty much the same, he bought the TCU for $400-ish (at the time), he had the ISTA+ software and I think it took him about 2 hours total to program it. After that he just contacted BMW to activate the Connected account after paying whatever subscription fee. The SIM cards are already purchased in advance by BMW so it makes sense that all they would have to do is activate them. He did all this outside of the Dealer.
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i3Houston
Posts: 242
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Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:15 pm

This is clearly not a problem specific to i3, is it? How many other BMW models are impacted, does anyone know?
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EvanstonI3
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:11 pm

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:23 pm

i3Houston wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:15 pm
This is clearly not a problem specific to i3, is it? How many other BMW models are impacted, does anyone know?
Every other BMW model from at least 2014-2016 using 3G is also affected.
They may be dealing with other models differently in terms of offering an easy or no cost upgrade path.
The TCU box on all of them is most likely the same part.
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bocabimmer
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:31 pm

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:10 am

EvanstonI3 wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:23 pm
i3Houston wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:15 pm
This is clearly not a problem specific to i3, is it? How many other BMW models are impacted, does anyone know?
Every other BMW model from at least 2014-2016 using 3G is also affected.
They may be dealing with other models differently in terms of offering an easy or no cost upgrade path.
The TCU box on all of them is most likely the same part.
Yeah, I just joined the F30 forum on another site, they have this issue but nobody seems to really care. I think i3 owners use it a whole lot more because 1) we aren't paying for the service right now 2) it is very handy with preconditioning and checking charge status.
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i3Houston
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:30 pm

Re: I had a 3G to 4G TCU upgrade to prove a point.

Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:18 am

bocabimmer wrote:
Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:10 am
EvanstonI3 wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:23 pm
i3Houston wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:15 pm
This is clearly not a problem specific to i3, is it? How many other BMW models are impacted, does anyone know?
Every other BMW model from at least 2014-2016 using 3G is also affected.
They may be dealing with other models differently in terms of offering an easy or no cost upgrade path.
The TCU box on all of them is most likely the same part.
Yeah, I just joined the F30 forum on another site, they have this issue but nobody seems to really care. I think i3 owners use it a whole lot more because 1) we aren't paying for the service right now 2) it is very handy with preconditioning and checking charge status.
Oh yeah.. preconditioning doesn't make sense on ice cars. Now that you mentioned it, guessing most people would have the app as well.

No doubt BMW will leave i3 owners stranded.
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