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Top 3 Bmw 3 Series Radio Upgrade & Step By Step Guideline 2021

No doubt about it, the BMW 3 series (E46) are excellent vehicles.

However, the BMW 3 series radio upgrade is an important project you need to embark on if you desire to enhance your infotainment system or improve the interior.

When you study the E46 closely, the infotainment system is slightly out of place compared to its sleek, attractive, and sporty appearance.

As a result, most owners are always intentional about upgrading the factory radio with one of the top-performance or highly rated designs on the market.

BMW E46 radio upgrade gives you access to modern infotainment technology and features and improves your interior significantly.

In the end, you will get a stereo that complements your vehicle’s appearance and improves your sound/audio performance.

BMW 3 Series Features

  • Sleek and sporty appearance
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Excellent chassis
  • Impressive style, comfort, and power
  • Outstanding handling

Why are BMW 3 Series Popular?

Despite its long history, the BMW 3 series remains a popular and well-recognized vehicle.

The 3 series is well-loved by vehicle owners around the world for its flexibility and overall performance.

The E46 is designed to deliver top-class performance for everyday use and weekend adventures, especially road racing.

Thanks to its incredible combination of power, styles, and comfort during every operation/use.  Its reliable and outstanding handling can’t be left out.

PreviewBrand NameDetails
EONON Fits 99-04
AWESAFE Fits 05-17
NVGOTEV Fits 1999-2004
Sony XAV-AX100
BMW E46 Fits 97-05

When do you need to upgrade your BMW 3 Series Radio?

Whenever you feel the need for more, it may be time to replace your factory radio with one of the top aftermarket designs you can lay your hands on.

Car owners want more than the FM & AM features, average audio quality, out-of-date display screen, and stereo font that the BMW 3 series factory radio offers.

Hence, the need for an upgrade (an infotainment system that provides modern technologies to achieve a fulfilling and satisfying performance).

Which Radio system is Perfect for BMW 3 Series?

The main aim of a radio upgrade is to enjoy an overall improvement in audio quality.

Once you detach your factory radio system, replace it with any of the latest radio systems in the market.

Go for a radio system that comes with several modern or up-to-date features that support outstanding entertainment.

For instance, the touch screen display must support an impressive display/watching experience.

It must also allow you to play/listen to music across various media sources or devices and support hands-free calls.

Other features include easy controls and access to safety and performance-related information by tapping a button or a swipe on the screen.

BMW 3 Series Radio Upgrade

How much does it cost to upgrade BMW 3 radio?

On average, the BMW radio upgrade costs between $400 and $600. The estimate includes the installation cost.

However, if you have the necessary skills and can carry out the installation on your own. You will get a solid radio between $150 and $300 on average.

Time

The installation time varies from one individual to another. Several factors may contribute to how long the process takes.

Most notable factors include skills and experience, access to the right tools, and the extent of the needed modifications.

When you have adequate skills & experience, and the right tools, the process is easier and faster.

On average, the installation time takes between 1and 3 hours. However, if you have to carry out a few modifications (drilling and cutting) to create adequate space to house the new radio.

The installation time could be extended.

Tools

  • Flat blade screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Crimping tool
  • Prying tool
  • Soldering iron
  • Torx drivers
  • Adapter for wiring harness
  • Solder connectors
  • bezel

If you are replacing a 1.5-Din radio with a 2-Din stereo, you will need to modify the dashboard.

As a result, you will need a bezel or adapter to hold the new radio in position to complete the installation.

Connects2 BMW E46 3 Series 2-Din radio stereo bezel is a great choice.

Thanks to its pocket-friendly price, high-quality build, ease of installation, and how it slots in perfectly in the dashboard.

Step By Step Guide

  1. Take off the trim: The fasteners that keep the BMW 3 series factory radio in position are hidden to enhance the appearance or make it look more appealing. To access them, you need to take the trim piece off.
  2. Remove the old radio/stereo: Once the trim is removed, you will get easy access to the fasteners holding the stereo in place. Unscrew these fasteners or bolts using a Torx driver and pull out the stereo/radio gently.
  3. Take out the extra bracket: If you are installing a bigger stereo than the old radio. For instance, if you are replacing a 1.5-Din radio with a 2-Din head unit, the new radio won’t fit into the dashboard without making necessary modifications. To need the technical skills and experience to get the job done. Alternatively, you can consult a professional.

The existing bracket won’t be big/wide enough for the new radio. Hence, you may have to take out the bracket and storage pocket to create more space to accommodate a larger radio. During this time, you will need to do some drilling and cutting.

However, if you are sticking to an improved design of the existing/old radio (an old 1-Din radio with a new 1-Din design). You can reuse the storage pocket and the bracket.

  1. Install the new head unit/stereo: Aftermarket radios or head units usually come with necessary mounting accessories. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the hardware for a successful installation. Insert the new radio into the already prepared mounting space. Do not force it in, and ensure it sits in well.
  2. Make the necessary connection: If your new radio/stereo can work with the existing wiring harness, it is always a great plus since it simplifies the installation process. However, if the harness isn’t compatible, you may need to invest in a new one. Get a compatible adapter with your new radio for easy use & installation (plug and play).
  3. Check if everything is intact: Once you have completed the necessary connection, the next thing is to check if the installation is successful. Place the radio into its compartment and then turn on the engine to power the radio.

If the radio fails to come on, you may need to check the wiring connections for possible errors.

If the radio works as expected and you are satisfied with the overall performance, you will need to apply the screws to hold it together firmly.

  1. Install the bezel: Now that you have a larger radio, coupled with the modifications to create more space. The trim piece removed from the old radio won’t fit in anymore. You will have to install a compatible or suitable bezel instead. Choose one of the best bezels you can find in the market. Ensure it has a similar dimension as your new radio and can fit into the dashboard perfectly.

Best BMW 3 Series Radio Reviews

01. Eonon radio

 

Highlighted Features

  • Android 10
  • 9-inch in size
  • Compatible with Wi-Fi, 4G, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay
  • 32GB ROM & 2GB RAM
  • 7 x 8.5 x 8.1 inches in dimension
  • 5 pounds in weight

If you need a radio that supports outstanding audio and visual performance. Eonon is a suitable and ideal option to look at.

The large display screen improves your interior, giving your vehicle audio system the modern feel and touch that it needs.

Equipped with the latest Android 10 and a storage capacity of 32GB, users can download several apps of their choice by connecting the radio to the internet.

The radio allows easy synchronization or connection to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

As a result, you will be able to stream your favourite music directly from your phone, make & receive calls, and send & receive messages right on the display screen.

We love the smooth and responsive touch screen functionality. You can easily access desired features faster with a single click.

Another impressive addition is the voice command feature that allows you to make necessary selections and changes via your voice.

Pros

  • Connects to various media sources
  • Impressive display quality
  • Outstanding audio quality and sound amplification
  • Gives excellent value on your investment

Cons

  • A bit expensive

02. AWESAFE

 

Highlighted Features

  • Android 10
  • 32GB ROM & 2GB RAM
  • AM & FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS navigation compatible
  • Backup camera & mirror link
  • ‎10.59 x 4.49 x 9.49 inches in dimension
  • 6 pounds in weight

AWESAFE comes with a 6.2-inch touch screen. Since it is equipped with an Android 10 system, this guarantees a smooth and powerful user experience.

You can easily navigate through various functions without any delay or fear of a possible crash.

Also, the 32GB storage space offers adequate space to download and store relevant apps and your favorite media files.

Since it is compatible with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, you can easily connect the radio with your smartphone to stream your favorite podcasts and music.

Once connected, you can make relevant adjustments and controls directly from the stereo’s display screen.

GPS navigation supports both online and offline use. Also, the North America map comes pre-installed on it.

When connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can make and receive calls.

The mic that comes with the radio supports uninterrupted audio quality for an awesome experience.

Pros

  • It can be connected to the factory steering wheel controls
  • Adequate storage capacity
  • The image quality is impressive
  • Loud and crisp sound

Cons

  • The instruction manual needs a massive upgrade
  • Installation is a bit difficult, especially for starters

03. NVGOTEV

 

Highlighted Features

  • 7-inch display touch screen
  • A perfect fit for BMW 3 Series (E46) 99-04
  • 800 x 480 resolution
  • Compatible with Wi-Fi, USB, and Bluetooth
  • ‎12.24 x 9.29 x 7.68 inches in dimension
  • 56 pounds in weight

NVGOTEV radio offers several outstanding features for users at an affordable price.

The powerfully built 7-inch display screen offers impressive screen resolution with excellent image quality for a pleasurable viewing experience.

You can connect the radio to your smartphone via USB or Bluetooth to access your music file or stream music and other digital media files.

When you synchronize your phone to the radio via Bluetooth, you can easily make and receive calls directly from the display screen.

The mic is well-built to project your voice clearly and reduce possible interference or distortion that may affect audio quality while driving.

The mirror link feature duplicates your smartphone’s screen, allowing you to access the displayed functions directly on the stereo’s screen.

Pros

  • Fits perfectly on the installed dashboard
  • Attractive and fascinating appearance
  • Affordable and easy to install
  • Impressive audio and image quality

Cons

  • Doesn’t display music or podcast details unless you connect via mirror cast or USB

Common BMW 3 series radio problems

  • Radio going off by itself
  • Radio not coming on after numerous attempts
  • Reduction in sound & display quality
  • The radio may go off whenever you drive over a bump or when you take a turn/negotiate a corner

FAQ’s BMW Radio Upgrade

What is the best BMW 3 series radio?

The best radio comes with modern technologies that support smooth & powerful performance. Most importantly, safety while driving on the road.

It must also connect with your phone via several connectivity options seamlessly to access key functions directly on the stereo’s display screen.

Who should install a radio?

Installing a radio is not a complex exercise. This is a project that anyone can embark on, provided you know what is expected.

Most designs come with an installation manual to guide you through the process. However, if it seems like a difficult task, you can consult or hire a professional.

How much does it cost to hire a professional?

Usually, the labour cost for the BMW E46 radio upgrade depends on the complexity of the task.

Especially when you need to make some modifications to fit the new radio in place. On average, a professional charges between $200 and $300 to install your radio.

How long can a radio last?

On average, radios have an average lifespan of about 7 years.

What causes radios to go bad?

The common issues that could make a radio unresponsive include poor or faulty wiring and a blown fuse.

Verdict

BMW 3 series radio upgrade is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to increase your vehicle’s value and enhance your driving experience.

While conducting an upgrade in your car, ensure you install one of the best options out there for reliable and long-lasting performance.

Usually, nothing beats having a solid audio system in your car.

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