When you buy a BMW 3 Series, you know you’re getting a quality car.
But what many owners don’t know is that some fantastic hidden features can make your ownership even more enjoyable.
In this article, we’ll give you eight tips to help you get the most out of your car, many of which you may not have known about.
Here are eight tips and hidden features for your BMW 3 Series:
- Create shortcuts in the iDrive system
- Open all windows automatically with your key fob
- Put your fuel cap in its holder when filling up the car
- Brake automatically using cruise control
- Close your trunk from inside the car
- Easily switch the transmission from ‘Drive’ to ‘Manual’ and back
- Let the passenger side mirror pivot down automatically when in reverse
- Automatically put the transmission in ‘Park’ when turning off the car
Read on to learn more about these amazing things your BMW can do!
8 Hidden features of the BMW 3 Series (tips)
Ready to learn some great things about your BMW? Let’s check them out!
1. Create shortcuts in the iDrive system
The first tip is to create shortcuts to your favorite iDrive system menus.
Creating these shortcuts allows you to quickly access your favorite features without navigating the entire menu structure.
I remember the first time I set my home address as a shortcut.
After a long day, it felt so convenient and reassuring to have my BMW guide me back with just a single button press.
There are so many options! Pretty much any menu in the iDrive system can be set as a preset.
So, how do you create these shortcuts in your BMW 3 Series?
It’s actually quite simple.
The preset/shortcut buttons are the ‘1-8’ buttons on your center console:
To link one of these buttons to a feature in the iDrive system and create a shortcut, here’s what you need to do:
- Use the iDrive controller wheel or touch screen to navigate to the menu you want to create a shortcut for.
- Once there, press and hold one of the ‘1-8’ buttons.
- After three seconds, a shortcut is created to your desired iDrive feature or menu.
- Next time you want to go to that feature or page, simply press the shortcut button once.
Another thing, if you want to delete a preset from a ‘1-8’ button, you can follow the same process above to assign a new preset for it.
And lastly, by holding buttons ‘1’ and ‘8’ together, you can erase the presets of all eight buttons!
2. Open all windows automatically with your key fob
Every BMW 3 Series owner uses their key fob to open and close the car.
But many of them don’t know that you can use your key fob to close or open all the windows automatically, and even the sunroof if your BMW has one!
On a warm summer day, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this feature.
So, here’s how to do it:
- Press and hold the ‘Unlock’ button to open all windows (and the sunroof if you have it).
- Press and hold the ‘BMW’ button to close all windows (and the sunroof if you have it).
3. Put your fuel cap in its holder when filling up the car
Filling up your car with fuel is one of those tasks that are just a part of life.
But did you know there’s a right and wrong way to do it?
BMW 3 Series owners, take note: put your fuel cap in its holder when refueling.
Yes! BMW designed a holder for your gas cap, and it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it:
This simple tip can prevent the fuel cap from scratching your paint and stay clean and free of debris!
Note: Premium gas is highly recommended for the BMW 3 Series. You can learn why in our article here.
4. Brake automatically using cruise control
The following feature of your BMW 3 Series is a great one to be aware of.
Did you ever feel like your car braked by itself when driving on cruise control?
Your feeling may have been right!
That’s because when your car’s speed increases too much from the set cruise control speed (for example, when rolling off a hill), the system automatically applies the brakes to slow down the car.
This also applies if you significantly decrease your set speed. For example, when having the cruise control at a hundred and setting it to sixty at once.
Knowing this can help you avoid sudden braking situations. And it can even help you to improve fuel economy by temporarily turning off cruise control on steep hills.
5. Close your trunk from inside the car
This tip is only for BMW 3 Series equipped with an automatic opening and closing tailgate.
Many will know that you can open your trunk with a button in the interior:
But you might not know that by using this same button, you can automatically close your trunk from inside the car.
To do this, lift the button that usually opens the trunk and hold it!
Another way to close your trunk from inside the car is to use your key fob. Press and hold down the ‘open trunk’ button, and your trunk will close automatically!
6. Easily switch the transmission from ‘Drive’ to ‘Manual’ and back
The next tip is for BMW 3 Series equipped with an automatic transmission. And if you love the ‘Manual’ mode on your BMW’s automatic transmission, you should definitely pay attention!
Here are some great hidden features of your transmission’s ‘Manual’ mode on your BMW:
- Switch to ‘Manual’ without the gear lever. By clicking one of your shifter paddles, your car will switch to ‘Manual’ without you having to move the gear lever. However, if you don’t change gears again, it will return to ‘Drive’ after a few seconds.
- Manually return to ‘Drive.’ You can also manually return to ‘Drive’ by pressing and holding the right paddle (upshift).
- Switch to the most economical gear in ‘Manual’ mode. If your gear lever is set to the ‘Manual’ mode, you can let the transmission automatically shift to the lowest gear by holding the right paddle (upshift).
- Switch to the most powerful gear in ‘Manual’ mode. You can also do the opposite of the tip above. Press and hold your left paddle (downshift) to automatically shift down (multiple) gear(s) into your engine’s RPM range.
- Downshift without pressing your pedals. If you want to quickly downshift without using your paddles, you can quickly ‘blip’ your gas pedal, and your BMW will downshift one or two gears.
Note: Don’t worry, your car is designed to handle these inputs, and they won’t damage your engine or transmission. Using real-world data, we’ve found that BMW 3 Series can last 250k miles or more!
7. Let the passenger side mirror pivot down automatically when in reverse
The next feature is particularly useful when parallel parking.
Did you know that you can automatically let your passenger side mirror pivot down when in reverse?
This will allow you to see any curbstones and prevent you from damaging your wheels!
You can enable this feature by ensuring your mirror adjuster button is set to the driver’s side.
So, if you have a left-hand drive car, ensure the mirror adjuster button is set to the left, and your passenger side mirror will automatically pivot down when reversing.
8. Automatically put the transmission in ‘Park’ when turning off the car
The last hidden feature of the BMW 3 Series is that it automatically puts the automatic transmission in ‘Park’ when you turn off the car.
So, if you have your automatic transmission in ‘Drive,’ and you arrive at your destination, you can turn off the engine, and the car will go into ‘Park’ automatically!
This feature is beneficial if you’re parked on an incline, as it will prevent the car from rolling away. But also, it’s just more convenient not having to press the ‘Park’ button every time.
And here’s another bonus feature – if you have your automatic transmission in sport or manual mode and you press the ‘Park’ button, the gear leaver will automatically pop back into the central position!
Bonus tip: Check out our article listing our favorite BMW accessories!
How you can unlock even more hidden features for your BMW 3 Series
If you love hidden features on your BMW 3 Series, you will love to know there’s a way to unlock even more of them on your car with Carly.
Carly is one of the most popular OBD readers on the market.
It’s a device you can plug into your BMW, which pairs with an app on your phone.
One of Carly’s features is Carly Coding, which is a simple yet powerful software that allows you to unlock hidden features:
Carly Coding reads the code from your car’s computer and allows you to make changes to the programming. This means that you can enable features that the factory turned off, or disable features that you don’t want.
For example, here are some amazing features you can code into your BMW 3 Series:
- Disable auto start/stop by default.
- Fold the mirrors automatically when locking the car.
- Enable a memory feature for your air conditioning.
- Adjust the brightness of your BMW’s angel eyes.
- Prevent the window open and close buttons from getting disabled after opening the door.
- Turn on a digital speed display.
- And much more!
If you’re interested in Carly, you can click here to get a £5 discount at checkout using the coupon code ‘5offCarly‘!
Do you love to tune your car? If so, click on this box to learn more about the best BMW 3 Series models for tuning!
From the sleek, sporty exterior to the comfortable, spacious interior, the 3 Series has something to offer everyone.
But there are also a few hidden features that make this car even more special.
We’d love to hear about your own experiences and surprises with the BMW 3 Series.
How many of these features were new discoveries for you? Share your stories in the comments!