14 535i Accident Repair, and where it goes from there...


Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
I picked up a really clean (aside from the obvious dent) 2014 535i at IAA. It has just 14k on it and I liked the color combination, options. Alpine white on Cinnamon brown. It was wrecked Nov'15 and had been sitting in insurance limbo since. Finally two weeks ago a date was set and I was excited, hoping I could win it. The day came, auction ran and I was awarded the car with the high bid of $14,700 :happyanim:

A few pictures from the USAA/IAA auction:




Unloading at my house the following day:


Sitting "pretty" in my garage:


I got the car home so late the first day I didn't do anything to it besides charging the battery and replacing the Battery Safety Terminal which had detonated when the airbags deployed. Upon doing so electrical was 100% except the expected driver/passenger restraint system warnings on iDrive, along with a few headlight & PDC errors (duh)

The following day I picked up an OE BMW LCI MSport front bumper with minor scuffs on it, Alpine White to boot... for $75 from a friend.

That evening when I got home from work I systematically dismantled the front of the car, culling all of the broken plastic and bent impact structure. As I had hoped from the auction photos there was no damage to the frame horns, or the inner structure up top. Just the lateral tie bars, and a wide array of plastic.


The drivers side frame horn flange was bent over just a smidgen and easily pulled back flush with a little elbow grease. Strictly cosmetic that, and everything else looks great!


Everything in the cooling system ate it in the accident, except the intercooler with survived unscathed. Friday evening the plastic cooling module that holds the cooling system, along with the radiator/condenser was replaced with used units from a parts car at work.


I should mention I work in the automotive salvage industry, so a lot of parts are available to me from our own inventory which is great, but I still will have to buy a lot of the stuff new due to not having it available, or wanting nicer/cleaner stuff.

This morning I started assembling the aluminum impact beam with the foam cover, new intake shroud w/ C02 shutter option (how neat) , various plastic things, headlight brackets, hood latches, etc. It all then bolts onto the frame horns as a unit.

It lined up with no fuss, assuring me again that the car suffered no physical damage to the unibody. The remaining upper tie bars etc bolted right on easily as well.


The front PDC harness was cut in the accident, just 3 wires. These were easily repaired by cutting the jacket back on each wire, soldering, heatshrinking, then covering with OE BMW loom tape for a seamless repair.



The other front nose harness on the other hand fared much worse I'm afraid. It got mushed between the headlight and upper impact beam, literally tearing it a new one :lol:


Again each wire was carefully striped back, soldered, heatshrunk, and taped up with OE BMW loom tape. I could have bought this harness new for about $100 but it wasn't that big of a deal to repair it so why not.

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Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
I am buying a lot of parts from the dealer, about $3k worth so far, but the lions share of the parts are going to be used from parts cars I have at my disposal.

From the dealer thus far I've bought the rear MSport bumper w/ all the different trim/mounts, MSport rocker skirts, all the front bumper grills, pair fog lamps, drivers headlight, drivers roof bag and some other assorted plastic. Even at wholesale stuff adds up!

My car is what I've seen referred to as a "no line" I believe as it was not factory optioned with fog lamps. Quite odd to me, and of course the LCI MSport front bumper grills are designed for fog lamps. I elected to go with the LED foglamps as they look cooler and weren't that much more.

I took the fog lamp wiring from another F10 at work, dissected it from the nose harness, depinned it from the connector and integrated it into my nose harness. My main nose harness connector has 2 large empty socket holes. I pulled the silicone plugs out of them, and inserted the fog lamp wiring...


I am not sure which one is supposed to go in which socket but it doesn't really matter as I will have to run two identical wires from the socket pictured, behind the drivers headlight, to the FRM anyway. I need to install ISTA on my laptop so I can take a look at the wiring diagrams.

Satisfied with that for now I decided to connect my gauge set, vacuum pump to the air conditioning system and draw a vacuum. The premise here is to A. evacuate all air and other contaminates from the system, and B. Ensure that the system is sealed.

My vacuum pump will pull down to 29-30 in. hg. After it gets there I close close the gauge set, turn off the pump and see if it holds steady for an hour before filling the system with refrigerant. In this case 1.87lbs (30oz) according to the sticker on the underside of my mangled hood.


While I wait on the results of the vacuum test I moved inside the car to drop the headlining. Since the drivers roof bag deployed in the accident it would need to be changed. Not really sure why it deployed in basically front/center collision but *shrug* The F10 headliner was for the most part like any other BMW I've worked with and the screws, clips were all in the expected locations. This headliner will be discarded as its broken from the airbag deployment.


A shot from the passenger side front door sill, showing the roof bag (was trimmed with a razor to get it out of the way earlier)

Replacement steering wheel airbag was loose in the photo above, I was in the midst of doing that at the same time. I went ahead and snagged a much nicer steering wheel/airbag to replace the base blah one the car came with.


Skill level is 50% experience and 50% mindset. I myself have never worked on an F10 before. All of my experience is with older BMW's. E30's are my main stay, and E39/E46 probably right behind them... but BMW is nothing if not reliable in their engineering principals and its really more of the same when it comes to the F10 so far as I've seen.

I have 2 E39's in my driveway, 1 sedan and 1 touring. I also *just* finish completely restoring a E30 and subsequently insta-selling it. If ya fancy a dead sexy E30, the link below is worth a click:

One more update for this evening, I've called it a day at this point.

Brand new drivers roof airbag in its box:


Installing it back into the car is pretty straight forward, a couple snap in clips and 4-5 T25 pan head screws.


New drivers knee airbag, again super simple to change. Two each T20, T30 screws hold it in place.

These cars really have a splendid looking interior.


Swapped out the stock shifter for a SAT unit.



Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
I have most of my time today committed elsewhere, but I managed to get a little something done this morning...

It would pain me to no end to put a beige headliner back in the car, as I can't stand beige headliners, and I don't have one available to me.. Its $600 or so new, but I do have a black one at work in a parts car with no roof bag deployment damage... hmm...

This meant however I would have to further disassemble the car, and remove the sunroof cassette.

I've done that a bunch of times on E46's, E39's without a problem. The F10 was a pain in the ass however.

Same basic premise, sunroof cassette fastened to the roof with 10mm bolts around the border. 12 or so in total, 4 of which are completely obscured by the grab handle brackets which are riveted to the roof and not readily removable. IMO the sunroof cassette is likely installed first at production and then those brackets are riveted in the way.

There is just enough room to get at those 4 bolts with a 10mm wrench on a 45 degree angle and break them free. Its then a 1/6th turn from the wrench for several minutes per bolt to get them to drop out.

Once the cassette is free you have yet more headache as those same grab handle brackets prevent it from dropping down and out. I was able to pry the rear sides over the rear grab handle brackets then slide the whole cassette towards the rear of the car off the front grab handle brackets. It wasn't too heavy but it was still an odd dance trying to maneuver the assembly out of the car without scratching the interior, even with the assistance of my teenage daughter... none the less a little patience paid off and we got it out cleanly without damage.

It has two motors, one drives the sun shade, and the other drives the glass.




Well this evening was very busy. I went by the dealer to pickup my new MSport rocker skirts, reflectors, some other misc parts then headed home.

Tonight project was reinstalling the black sunroof cassette and headliner.

Installing the cassette was an absolute bear with those grab handle brackets riveted in the way. I easily spent 2 exhausting hours trying to push, pry, coax, finagle etc that MF'er into position. I would not wish this job on anyone. Don't do it!

Now for the headliner, which was a walk in the park by comparison. It slides right in the rear door, up to the roof and clicks in place with numerous pop snap fasteners.



Sorry installed photos shall have to wait until tomorrow as I'm exhausted from ~4hrs in the hot garage following a 10 hour work day.... And the lighting is no good anyway.

OK, this evening after work I had a customers car waiting on me when I got home, I knocked that out and got back to my F10.

I finished up installing the headliner, all I had left was the 2 rear grab handles, the b-pillars, and the 5 torx screws that go through the open sunroof threshold down into the front of the head liner to hold it up. All of that was straight forward.

The sunroof was only working manually at this point, no one-touch operation and not tilt operation. I figured it needed to be reinitialized being it was from an entirely different car. The procedure for the F10 is the same as other BMW's. With the engine running hold the TILT button up for 15 seconds and the roof will begin to move through its full range of motion. Pinch protection is disabled during the initialization run in so watch the fingers! Once the sunroof and slider moves through all positions it will park itself in the normal closed position and you're done. One touch and all operations now respond as before.

I also went ahead and recharged the AC system with 30oz of R134a and got it blowing nice and cold. With the AC now working I sat in the car and had a chance to play with the NBT system. I noticed the previous owner left some music on the onboard storage but could not figure out how to clear it out.

Hard to take pictures of a black headliner at night but I tried. Don't mind the dust, it still needs a wiping down with a damp microfiber towel.



The black suits the rest of the interior so much better than the factory original beige.


Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
I did work "on the car" I drove all of the new and used body parts needing paint across town to my paint shop, Imperial Collision. They will be prepping and painting all of the parts Alpineweiss 3 for me.

This evening when I got home from work my task was to remove both damaged fenders, both base model rocker skirts, and the base model rear bumper. Removal of all parts was quite simple with bolts in logical locations and pop snap type fasteners everywhere else.

With the rear bumper off I also swapped out both intermediary plastic pieces between the bumper rebar and cover to the MSport variants as they are in fact just a bit different.



Painter just sent this over to me, they just finished shooting the AW3 base.


OK this evening I installed the driver side seat belt pretensioner, as the original one was deployed in the accident. Straight forward, 4 bolts to release the seat, then roll it on its side for access to the pretensioner. 2 wire connectors to R&R it.

You can see the difference between the new and the cinched down one:


Thinking I'd rectified all of the safety system related issues I finally went to clear the codes. Everything cleared successfully except one... "Belt force limiter, drive. Short-circuit to ground".... grrr... Initial poking around looks like I'm going to need a new drivers seat belt too. Looks like the little SOB has an airbag detonator in it as well. Belt still pulls and retracts normally however so its is entirely usable so long as you don't mind the airbag light....

Yay for more surprises!

This morning I called my local dealer up (again) and placed an order for the driver seat belt *grumble*

I went outside and decided it was time to get the headlights installed. The right side on my car looked intact but was badly damaged on the back side. I instead got this good used lamp assembly taken from a parts car, but I changed over all of my original bulbs/modules into it. It works flawlessly.

The drivers side on the other hand I had to buy brand new. My modules and bulbs survived the accident and were changed over onto the new headlight. Xenon bulb and turn signal are all that work however. No LED halos or accents functioning. Autel Diagnostics on the FRM3 show a LIN bus communication error with one of the driver side headlight control modules.

I swapped the RH control module from the car the RH headlight came from into the LH headlight, still the same problem... probably needs to be coded. I'm now installing ISTA-D on my laptop so I can get a more concise idea of what the problem is, and it should allow me to code/learn in a used module.



These cars are definitely a lot more electrically complex than what I'm used to working on.

Alright I probably spent the better part of 6 hours downloading, installing and fighting terrible broken English instructions on where to put what files but I finally got ISTA-D up and running on my laptop with an ENET cable. Once actually installed with the right files in the right places it works phenomenally.

As expected the LH headlamp driver module was non responsive, as evidenced by the ISTA-D module tree:




I asked it to calculate a test plan, and the first suggestion was to check for power. Armed with the wiring diagrams provided through ISTA-D I now knew what wires to probe. The main supply line to the STML module was dead. Next logical move was the check the fuse notated as feeding the module in the diagram, F127 in the rear trunk fuse box.

Checking said fuse revealed it was in fact popped. Yes some progress. I looked at the fuse chart included with the car tucked in the box and it is a joke... BMW clearly does not want owners working on their own cars.

Now as soon as I replaced the fuse the passenger side headlight halos started flickering like a HDD activity indicator lamp :lol: Unplugging the drivers side headlight stopped the passenger side from flickering. I concluded the STML module on the drivers headlight is bad and causing disturbance on the bus.

I did have a spare from the donor headlight I believe ought to be good, so I swapped it in.


The passenger side headlight was happy now, but still no joy from the drivers side. I figured at very least the module I'd swapped it was from another car, and the right side at that so it needed to be calibrated.

I went through the test plan until I found the procedure to learn-in the LED's and told it to carry out the calibration. Oddly enough the left side immediately fails, and if you tell it to continue the right side goes through calibration bringing the left side online with it.

I still had NO communication with the STML, but for whatever reason the LED functions on the LH headlight were illuminated.


Unfortunately as soon as I power cycled the ignition the LH headlight went dead again. Re-running the learn-in calibration would bring it back up as before, but still with zero communication from the module. :confused2

My best guess at this point is that I need to buy a new STML module, but I hate to spend $360 on something like that (in stock at the dealer) when its a non returnable item and I don't 100% know for sure its my problem... pretty sure it will be but not 100%

Not a whole awful lot going on the last few days. I've been on a parts hold, and still waiting on the paint shop to be done with all of my painted parts.

I got the headlight driver module in, along with the seat belt. Headlight module popped right in and ISTA-D saw it immediately which was great. Unfortunately it needs to be encoded for the vehicle, as it comes uncoded, and I've not been able to get ISTA-P to work with the ENET cable. Apparently you need an ICOM to program and I'm not looking to spend that kind of money (~$600) on one right now.

I'll have to take the car to my friends shop and have him code the module for me.

The seat belt went smoothly though, here is the new one with the airbag connector:


Very easy to change, just 3 T30 torx bolts holding everything in place, plus a few pop snaps on the B-Pillar trim panels.


The whole swap took about 20 minutes.

I'm expecting to get the majority of the body parts back from paint tomorrow night. The hood I cannot transport in the E39 Wagon, so I'll have to actually drive the F10 over without a hood and install it there.

Just a quick little update. I went by the painter and finally was able to retrieve some pieces. I managed to fit both fenders, both rocker skirts, and the front bumper in the back of the E39 wagon. I'll have to go back tomorrow for the rear bumper and maybe Saturday on the hood.



I got the fenders hung quickly on the car, not lined up 100% just secure from falling over in the middle of the night. I did the same with the front bumper.


Lots and lots of work today. The front end is all back together, and all of the bumper/fender bolts along the top are snug but not tight. I want to avoid leaving witness marks from the fastener shoulders until everything is fit/gapped to the hood and can be tightened down in their final positions.

Both rocker skirts are installed.

The rear bumper is installed. I had to enlist the extra assistance of my wife with it as it is a floppy wet noodle compared to the front. Once its on the car its obviously stiff, but until then.. wooo not fun to try to mount yourself without paint damage!



Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
A before and after (as of 11/24/16) action to show how far the car has come in not quite 6 months.




Nov 19, 2016
Houston, TX
14 535i, 13 X3 35i
I think including all of the actual repairs I was into the car about $20k. None of the later mods considered.