Replacing the General Module
Last updated January 21, 2012
I can repair many of the problems that commonly occur with the BMW General Module 3 and 5, but, once in a while it's beyond repair and the module needs to be replaced. The BMW dealer will likely want to charge you around $1000 for the part, installation and coding. This page will show you how to cut that cost in half.
First you will need to get a new module. The cost at the dealer parts counter is usually marked up 20-50% and likely even more if it's on the repair invoice. Get a new module mail order from ECStuning.com or getbmwparts.com for a sometimes more than 25% under MSRP (usually in the $330-$360 range). You can probably find the part number of the module you need on these pages depending on if you need a GM3 or GM5 module, GM3 Part Numbers - GM5 Part Numbers.
Second install it yourself. Use my module removal instructions to remove the defective module and install the new module. GM3 Removal Instructions - GM5 Removal Instructions. The new uncoded module will work for most standard functions, but, some things won't work until the module is coded to the car.
Third is getting the module coded to your car. This step requires taking it into the dealer or a shop that has the computer necessary to code the module (typically ISIS/ISTA or a GT1 with SSS). Tell them that you have installed a new uncoded ZKE module that you need the module coded to the car. The dealer will likely have a 1 hour minimum charge at about $140/hr. An independant BMW shop will charge less because their hourly rate is less and because the coding process doesn't really take an hour. Only about 15 minutes if they know what they're doing. One problem with an independant shop is they probably don't code many modules and may not remember off the top of their head how to do it. Be sure to bring all the remote keys you have for the car and drop them off with the car. Also ask for the Car Key Memory sheet to fill out. This form has things like auto door locks at 5 MPH, unlocking of only the driver's door or all doors on the first remote press and a few other things that I can't remember. You need to do this when you take the car in for coding because if it's not set up to your liking and you want to get it changed later it may cost you another 1 hour labor!
Last is making sure everything works. Test the wipers, trunk release, dome lights, trunk light, door ajar indicators on the instrument cluster, windows-including auto up and auto down features. Also check the remote key operation. This is often overlooked. If they make a big deal about coding the key to the general module you can do it yourself. Key sync procedure.
If you have any other questions shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call, 310-283-4273. I'm in the Los Angeles, CA area so please don't call too early in the morning.