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      05-04-2017, 11:18 AM   #1
sirdaft1
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Installing a Tow Hitch. Need some help.

I've spent hours researching this without any certainty and can use some input.

MY GOAL: Use my 2012 X5 35i as the tow vehicle for my track car. The trailer being used will have electronic brakes.

Every walk through I've read shows that a hitch and OE wiring harness are required, along with some coding. Simple enough. Yet there is no mention of a separate brake controller required to control the electronic trailer brakes (every other vehicle I've ever seen requires a brake controller). Even my mechanic said a brake controller is not required(???). This is confusing to say the least.

Can anyone who has done this install clarify as to what exactly is required and hopefully clear the air for those seeking answers on this going forward?

(I've emailed Invisihitch and am awaiting a response)
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      05-04-2017, 12:08 PM   #2
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I've installed 3x hitches ;-) I've had one on my X5 4.8i and my current X5M as well as my e90... I have a towing thread on xoutpost.com

Anyway. I don't believe Inivisihitch makes a hitch for the X5. I'm also not a fan of the execuhitch for serious towing as its not a receiver type hitch which rules out the use of most weight distribution/anti-sway hitches. I have used the BMW hitch, wiring harness and coding. The coding is worth it as it activates tow/haul mode on the transmission, anti-sway control in the traction control system, and if you have backup sensors it disables the rear sensors when hitched to a trailer. Also it enables a special hitching mode on the backup camera that angles your view and add special targeting to make aligning the trailer ball to the tongue simple 1 person activity.

So, no! The X5 does not come with a brake controller and its not included as part of the BMW hitch and OEM wiring harness. In most states if the weight of the trailer+Cargo exceeds 3500lbs you are required by law to have trailer brakes and of course some means to control them. This really depends on the trailer and how its brakes are designed. Frankly I tow a 4400-5300lbs trailer depending on cargo and I wouldn't want to tow without brakes. The stopping distances increase hugely without trailer brakes, like nearly 2x.


So you have several options for a brake controller. You can wire in a traditional cheap-o brake controller with its associated risks of splicing into the factory wiring, but they work. You can buy a BMW plug-n-play brake controller from some European websites, hard to find and information is scarce but super easy to install. OR finally you can go with a wireless brake controller which is what I opted for. The main reason being no splicing of the factory wiring and it allows you to tow with different vehicles as the hand controller is easy to move.

This is what I bought and I've used it on 2 different X5's and (4.8i and M) and it works great, super easy to install, and your trailer chimps cant f it up. https://www.etrailer.com/bc-2011_BMW_X5.htm
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      05-04-2017, 12:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thecastle View Post
I've installed 3x hitches ;-) I've had one on my X5 4.8i and my current X5M as well as my e90... I have a towing thread on xoutpost.com

Anyway. I don't believe Inivisihitch makes a hitch for the X5. I'm also not a fan of the execuhitch for serious towing as its not a receiver type hitch which rules out the use of most weight distribution/anti-sway hitches. I have used the BMW hitch, wiring harness and coding. The coding is worth it as it activates tow/haul mode on the transmission, anti-sway control in the traction control system, and if you have backup sensors it disables the rear sensors when hitched to a trailer. Also it enables a special hitching mode on the backup camera that angles your view and add special targeting to make aligning the trailer ball to the tongue simple 1 person activity.

So, no! The X5 does not come with a brake controller and its not included as part of the BMW hitch and OEM wiring harness. In most states if the weight of the trailer+Cargo exceeds 3500lbs you are required by law to have trailer brakes and of course some means to control them. This really depends on the trailer and how its brakes are designed. Frankly I tow a 4400-5300lbs trailer depending on cargo and I wouldn't want to tow without brakes. The stopping distances increase hugely without trailer brakes, like nearly 2x.


So you have several options for a brake controller. You can wire in a traditional cheap-o brake controller with its associated risks of splicing into the factory wiring, but they work. You can buy a BMW plug-n-play brake controller from some European websites, hard to find and information is scarce but super easy to install. OR finally you can go with a wireless brake controller which is what I opted for. The main reason being no splicing of the factory wiring and it allows you to tow with different vehicles as the hand controller is easy to move.

This is what I bought and I've used it on 2 different X5's and (4.8i and M) and it works great, super easy to install, and your trailer chimps cant f it up. https://www.etrailer.com/bc-2011_BMW_X5.htm
You sir are a saint. THANK YOU. That was FAR more helpful than most every other thread that I've read on the topic. Wish I could appreciate your reply more than once.

Also, sounds like you strongly recommend the BMW hitch? Any 'hidden' options that you would recommend? Or would you say function over form when it comes to a tow hitch for an X5? Thanks again.
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      05-04-2017, 12:24 PM   #4
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Thecastle also does brake control unit on the trailer require a 4-pin or 7-pin connector? (assuming we're talking about the wireless BC)
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      05-04-2017, 01:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirdaft1 View Post
You sir are a saint. THANK YOU. That was FAR more helpful than most every other thread that I've read on the topic. Wish I could appreciate your reply more than once.

Also, sounds like you strongly recommend the BMW hitch? Any 'hidden' options that you would recommend? Or would you say function over form when it comes to a tow hitch for an X5? Thanks again.
I'm just glad I could help.

As far as I know all trailers with electronic brakes are 7 pin now a days. The BMW harness is 7 pin and the brake controller I sent a link is 7 pin. The BMW harness does come with a 7->4 pin adapter. Though 4 pin trailers generally only have lighting.

As for hitches. Here's the things you may want to consider about towing and hitch selection and their ability to handle tough towing situations. Towing is a balancing act to prevent trailer sway and maintain good handling. Sway can make towing merely miserable (when your constantly fighting to keep the car in its lane at slow speed) to dangerous.


The name of the game for towing comfort and safety is preventing sway.
Sway prevention primarily requires 2 things; having the car and trailer towing level, and ensuring your tongue weight is at least 10-15% of your trailer weight. Of course these two are related, the more tongue weight the more the rear of your car sags. If you have leveling suspension this can compensate to an extent. To ensure level towing you need an adjustable hitch ball that you can raise and lower to ensure both vehicles are towing level. The only ones I've seen that are adjustable require a receiver hitch. Which is why I don't lean towards car hitches that aren't receiver type. They lack the adjustablity one needs to tow at highway speeds without sway. Also you can't use an anti-sway hitch without a receiver type hitch.

So having my come to Jesus towing experiences (code brown), and I have done thousands of miles of towing with a travel trailer, I'll take safe, easy relaxed towing any day over a setup that doesn't make it easy to compensate for sway. If your loads are light (less than 50% of tow vehicle weight), speeds are low (55mph or less), winds are low then you can get away with less optimal towing. But if you're driving thousands of miles at highway speeds and variable winds, you'll want form over aesthetics.
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