BMW DIAGNOSTIC CONNECTORS
ARE THREE STYLES - A, B and C: BMW
first installed the service lights in 1982. At that time the BMW
diagnostic connector had 15 pins. In 1987, to add new options they
switched to a 20 pin connector. Unfortunately it was not a clean
break from the old style. Many 87 and 88's have the 15 pin "old"
style connector, as they did not completely phase out the 15 pin
connector until late 1988. Lastly, BMW phased out their proprietary
connector entirely in 2001 in favor of a standardized 16 pin OBDII
Check the following chart
to determine whether you have the "A" style (15 pin) connector or
the "B" style (20 pin) connector or the 16 pin "C" style
2000 and later
16 pin socket
All models built
prior to 1987
style. BMW began phasing-out the A style connector in 1987,
and had completely gotten rid of it by the 1989 model year.
connector was phased-in in 1987, and fully implemented by
1989. Its use was continued until roughly mid-2000.
In the early 1990s the US Government mandated that all
passenger cars produced 1996 and later must be equipped
with the 16 pin, under dash, "C" style plug.
So BMW complied and just added the "C" connector.
But they kept the "B" connector in models up
to 2000 (2003 on the Z3s) meaning many cars have both
C and B.
IMPORTANT: If your car has the B connector, you
must plug our tools into the B connector in order
to enjoy the full range of functions!
TO FIND YOUR DIAGNOSTIC CONNECTOR
If you don't know which
style connector your BMW has, read the descriptions below to help
you identify your diagnostic connector.
Locations, Under-Hood: The red squares mark the locations where
the diagnostic connector is usually found. Note there is only one
diagnostic connector per vehicle.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The diagnostic
connector has no wires coming out of the cap.
style 15 pin connector: Under the hood, usually
located on the engine. Most often found on the drivers side (toward
the front of the car), high up and readily accessible. It is covered
by an oval dust cap which snaps off (can be a little difficult to
remove the first time). The dust cap will be red or black. Once
the dust cap is removed you will have access to the diagnostic connector.
It is shaped like the letter D (round with a flat side, see above).
To be sure you have found the correct connector count the number
of pin holes, there should be fifteen.
style 20 pin connector: Under the hood,
often located on the engine, shock tower or fire wall, high up and
readily accessible. It is covered by a round dust cap which twists
off like the lid of a jar (see photo at right). The dust cap is
black with a plastic strap attached. (Note: If you find a connector
which has wires sticking out of the cap, you have found the wrong
connector) Once the dust cap is removed you will have access to
the diagnostic connector. To be sure you have found the correct
connector count the number of pin holes (20) and observe the center
keyway hole which must be shaped like a pie with a piece removed,
also referred to as the "PAC-MAN" style plug, named after the character
in the PAC-MAN video game of the early eighties. IF YOU FIND A CONNECTOR
WITH A TRIANGLE SHAPED HOLE AT THE CENTER, YOU HAVE FOUND THE WRONG
(16 pin) found on 2000 and later BMWs:
Starting in 2001, BMW began to phase out the 20 pin B style connector,
using only the 16 pin OBDII connector, which we call the "C"
or 16 pin connector. Our tools ending in "-16" and the
AB03 adaptor are made specifically to accommodate BMWs with the
16 pin OBDII connector. The "C" connector is located under
the dash. IMPORTANT: 99% of BMWs built 1996 to 2000 have
both the 16 pin "C" / OBD plug shown below, AND the round
20 pin "B" plug shown above. If that is the case, then
you must order the tool that plugs into the "B", under-hood
connector, otherwise certain tool functions will not work. Only
order the -16 tools when the only connector your car has is the
"C" connector shown below.
The 16 pin, "C", or OBDII connector.