E60 – retrofitting high-beam assist (FLA)

Second generation FLA installed in my E60, with the cover off.

My E60 came with most of the good options, including a mirror with auto-dimming, homelink and the alarm LED. There are more mirror options available, though. One of them is pretty desirable: FLA, or high-beam assist. Another is not really all that useful but kind of cool: compass.

So I decided to seek out a new mirror that had both of those options, while retaining the homelink, alarm, and autodimming options I already had. Fortunately, this type of mirror is not all that unusual and is common across a number of e-bodied BMWs, including E60, E70, and E90. My “new” mirror came from an E70 LCI – that is, a 2010 BMW X5, via an ebay seller based in Lithuania. It has homelink (GTO), alarm (LED), compass, auto-dimming (EC), and of course high-beam assist (FLA).

Now as far as FLA goes, there are two generations of it in this era of BMWs. The first generation has a square camera and originated in the E65 7-series. It is, as far as I can tell, a monochrome camera and fairly low-res. The second generation has a round camera. The tech is about six years newer, and the camera is (again, as far as I can tell) both colour and higher resoluton than the first gen. (Note that there is an associated circuit board inside the mirror body that is different as well). There are reportedly significant differences in performance, which isn’t surprising given the evolution of camera technology over that period. In short, first gen is not great, second gen is very sharp and effective. I have no experience that would enable me to make the comparison myself.

No E60 ever shipped with the second-gen camera, though, and this adds a layer of difficultly to the retrofit, which I’ll get into further down.

Finding a mirror with FLA

First up, you probably don’t want to lose the options you’ve got. So, you are going to hunt for a mirror that has the options you already have (eg GTO=homelink, LED=alarm, EC=”electrochromatic” or autodimming), plus FLA, aka high-beam assist.

You are also looking for one that has the right mounting for an E60. If you are getting second gen FLA, then anything from an E70 or E90 (and probably other Es) will do. Beware though, as a lot of advertisers either don’t know or don’t care what they are selling. The mount is fairly distinctive:

Correct mount style for E60/E70/E90. Picture grabbed from an ebay ad.

For some reason when I was looking, there were several available with all the options, in second gen (round camera) form. Lately there haven’t been any, so I guess availability just varies.

If you are inclined to get first gen – which is much easier to code in an E60 – then the vehicle it comes from matters. There are physical differences in the mount angle and less software compensation is available. I am pretty sure that if you get a first-gen unit from an X5, the camera will be angled too far towards the sky. Maybe not, but be aware of the issue.

Wiring for the new mirror

You only need two new wires for FLA, provided you already have a rain and light sensor (RLS) up on your windscreen. The FLA module operates on the k-can bus so it only needs k-can high and k-can low. Because it is k-can, your wires need to be twisted together.

The no-cutting, fully reversible method is this: you unplug the four-pin plug from the RLS, and plug it into your own custom extension. Your custom extension includes two additional wires that you run to the FLA module on the mirror.

Custom RLS wiring extension to provide k-can to the FLA module

In the one I made (pictured), you will see the twisted wires running to the black plug. This is the extension that runs to the FLA module. The black plug came with my mirror but you can also buy this item if you need to (in fact, I bought some that I didn’t end up needing). The light-blue plug and socket are new and they act as extension for the RLS wiring.

(Note that on the E61 and (I think) the E90, the RLS runs on LINBUS therefore you need to dig a bit deeper into the roof for the wiring).

Not my diagram: https://classicautoltd.com/bmw-e60-e63-high-beam-assist-fla-retrofit/

The wiring itself is pretty simple, and if you can wait for delivery from China then the plugs/sockets are inexpensive. Here is the 3-pin plug/socket for the FLA module and here is the 4-pin plug/socket for the RLS extension cable. Side note: always go with AliExpress Standard Shipping, not the default postal service shipping. It may cost a little more but it’s vastly quicker in my experience.

Physically swapping the mirrors is easy. You pop open the cover, and then rotate the whole mirror assembly about a quarter turn and it is free. The reinstallation is a reverse of removal.

I will address the coding in my next post.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *