BMW M235i digital instrument cluster

Master Your BMW: 20 Tips and 9 Hidden Features! (2024)

Are you ready to take your BMW experience to the next level?

Well, look no further!

We’re here to help you uncover some seriously valuable tips and sneaky hidden features that’ll make you fall in love with your BMW all over again.

So buckle up, grab a snack (no crumbs in the car, please), and let’s get started!

20 Tips for getting the most out of your BMW

Unlock the full potential of your BMW with these 20 practical tips!

Note: If you’re only interested in BMW’s hidden features, click here to jump to the right section!

1. Create shortcuts in the iDrive system

The iDrive system is where all the magic happens!

But let’s be honest; navigating through endless menus can be a bit of a drag.

So, the first tip is to create shortcuts to your favorite iDrive system menus!

For instance, you can create a shortcut to navigate to your home address. Or, you can create presets for your favorite radio stations.

There are so many options! Any menu in the iDrive system can be set as a preset.

So, how do you create these shortcuts in your BMW?

It’s pretty simple.

The preset/shortcut buttons are the ‘1-8’ buttons on your center console:

BMW center dashboard with shortcut buttons

To link one of these buttons to a feature in the iDrive system and create a shortcut, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Use the iDrive controller wheel or touch screen to navigate to the menu you want to create a shortcut for.
  2. Once there, press and hold one of the ‘1-8’ buttons.
  3. After three seconds, a shortcut is created to your desired iDrive feature or menu.
  4. Next time you want to go to that feature or page, simply press the shortcut button once.

And if you want to change a preset from a ‘1-8’ button, you can follow the same process above to assign a new preset for it.

Or, you can erase all presets by holding buttons ‘1’ and ‘8’ together!

Forgot which shortcut belongs to a certain number?

A bonus hidden feature is that these ‘1-8’ buttons are touch-sensitive! So, if you hold your finger over them but don’t press them, you will see their preset on your iDrive screen!

2. Use ‘Auto H’ to automatically hold your brakes

Picture this: you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic or waiting at a red light on an incline, and you’re tired of playing footsie with the brake pedal.

Enter the ‘Auto H’ button – short for ‘Auto Hold’!

This feature automatically holds your brakes, giving your foot a much-needed break (pun intended).

It’s like an invisible assistant that’s always ready to lend a helping hand… or foot.

3. Reset the BMW trip computer by holding down ‘BC’ on the left blinker stalk

Ever found yourself searching for the trip reset button on your BMW’s dashboard?

Well, you won’t find it there. But don’t worry; it’s a common misconception.

To reset the trip computer on a BMW, press and hold the ‘BC’ button on the left blinker stalk.

After a few seconds, you’ll see that your trip odometer will be set to zero again!

4. Check the side of your gas cap using the fuel gauge arrow

We’ve all been there: pulling into a gas station and suddenly realizing we have no idea which side the gas cap is on.

Well, fear not; just take a look at the tiny arrow that points to the side of your gas cap:

BMW fuel gauge arrow

5. Properly set up and customize your BMW’s iDrive system

Your BMW’s iDrive system helps make the vehicle feel best for you.

When you properly set up and customize your iDrive system, you can optimize driving modes for different situations.

BMW 1 Series Sport driving mode configuration settings

Whether cruising on the highway, tackling twisty backroads, or running errands, iDrive ensures your BMW is perfectly tailored to your needs.

So, please take a moment to go through all the settings and customize them to your liking!

6. Put your fuel cap in its holder when filling up the car

Filling up your car is simply a part of being a car owner.

And if you find yourself with a tangling gas cap scratching your paint while fueling up, this tip might be a surprise.

Just put your fuel cap in the dedicated holder!

Yes! BMW designed a holder for your gas cap, and it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it:

BMW fuel/gas cap holder

7. Change your cruise control in 1 mph or 5 mph increments

Cruise control is great for long drives, but did you know you can fine-tune your speed in 1 mph or 5 mph increments?

Yup, it’s true!

Just push the cruise control button gently for 1 mph adjustments, or give it a firm nudge to change the speed by 5 mph at a time.

8. Use premium gas instead of regular gas

Feeding your BMW regular gas is like giving a racehorse cheap hay – it just won’t perform at its best.

Your BMW deserves premium fuel for optimal engine performance and life span.

So, treat your beloved Bimmer to the good stuff, and it’ll reward you with a smoother, more powerful ride.

9. Code your BMW to enable additional features or modify existing ones

Get ready to feel like a super-secret agent because you can ‘code’ your BMW to unlock hidden or modify existing features.

Just grab an OBD coding tool, and you can tweak settings to your liking.

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 on your BMW:

Carly Coding - How to unlock hidden features on a BMW

For example, here are some fantastic features you can code into your BMW:

  • 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, click here to get a £5 discount at checkout using the coupon code ‘5offCarly‘!

10. Use the USB-C instead of the USB-A port to charge your phone much faster

Imagine your phone’s battery is in the red zone, and you need it charged ASAP.

The solution?

Don’t use that old USB-A port. Instead, plug your cable into your BMW’s USB-C port.

You’ll be amazed at how much faster your phone charges!

11. Perform regular maintenance for peak performance

Your BMW is like a high-performance machine; just like any system, it needs care to stay in tip-top shape.

So, keep up with your scheduled service intervals, and avoid costly repairs down the road!

12. Learn about the temperature dial between the center vents

We bet you didn’t know what the little temperature dial hiding between your center vents is for.

Turns out, this dial allows you to fine-tune the temperature of the air coming out of those vents! (Independently from your AC settings being set to warm or cold.)

BMW 1-8 preset buttons

13. Use the rear window defroster if your BMW does not have a rear wiper

If your BMW doesn’t have a rear wiper, one tip is to turn on the rear window defroster button when it’s raining.

You’ll be surprised at how well it does to keep your rear window clear!

14. Use Active PDC braking intervention

Let’s face it, parking in tight spaces can be a nerve-wracking experience.

But if you have a newer BMW model, it may come with Active PDC braking intervention.

It’s a feature that will help you hit anything while parking by applying the brakes if needed.

To turn it on, go to Settings > Parking & Maneuvering > Active PDC with Braking Intervention, and turn on ‘Emergency Braking in the Rear’ and ‘Emergency Braking on Sides.’

BMW Active PDC with braking intervention

15. Regularly check your tire pressures

When it comes to your BMW’s performance, tires play a critical role.

So, make sure you regularly check those tire pressures to keep your ride smooth and safe.

Plus, properly inflated tires can improve your fuel economy, which means more money for your next road trip. Win-win!

16. Check if you have a heated steering wheel

Does your BMW feature a heated steering wheel?

If you’re not 100% sure it doesn’t have one, it can be worth checking!

The reason is that the heated steering wheel button is hidden on the side of your steering column.

So, turn it on and enjoy a warm embrace during those cold winters!

17. Use BMW’s voice commands

Have you ever tried using BMW’s voice commands to control various features in your car?

If not, you may be surprised at all the features that it’s capable of!

For example, you can try these commands:

  • Please change the temperature to 68°F.
  • Please turn on the heated seats.
  • Please lower the windows.
  • Please change the driving mode to sport.

Awesome, right?

18. Press the phone button to hang up your voice call

You probably know you can use the phone button on your steering wheel to pick up a call.

But did you know you can press the same button to end the call too?

So, no more awkward reaching to the touchscreen to press a small button; you’ve got a smooth exit strategy right at your fingertips!

BMW 5 Series M Sport steering wheel

19. Regularly clean your BMW

Regularly washing and detailing your BMW keeps it looking fresh and helps maintain its resale value.

Besides, who doesn’t love cruising in a spotless vehicle?

A great brand to look at if you would like to get some car care products for your BMW is Chemical Guys:

Chemical Guys homepage

They offer many high-quality cleaning products for your exterior and interior!

20. Automatically put the transmission in ‘Park’ by turning off the car

Here’s a neat trick for those of us who can be a bit forgetful: your BMW can automatically shift into ‘Park’ when you turn off the car.

That’s right, no more worrying about whether you’ve left your car in gear or not.

Just turn off the engine, and your BMW will take care of the rest.

BMW automatic gear lever and iDrive controller

And here’s another bonus feature – if you have your automatic transmission in sport or manual mode and press the ‘Park’ button, the gear leaver will automatically pop back into the central position!

9 Hidden features in BMW vehicles

Did you like our tips?

Don’t worry; we’re not done yet!

These nine hidden features will transform your driving experience, adding convenience, fun, and a touch of magic to your everyday adventures behind the wheel.

1. Open or close all windows automatically with your key fob

Many BMW owners use their key fob to open and close the car.

But did you know that you can use your key fob to close or open all the windows? (And even the sunroof if your BMW has one!)

This is a great feature if you want to get some fresh air into your car quickly or if you want to cool down the interior on a hot day.

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 ‘Lock’ or ‘BMW’ button to close all windows (and the sunroof if you have it).
BMW key fob

2. Hidden features when switching gears in manual mode

Let’s talk about some little-known features regarding your automatic transmission.

If you love the ‘Manual’ mode on your BMW’s automatic transmission, you should definitely pay attention!

Here are some great hidden features for the ‘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 using 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 optimal 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.
BMW steering wheel right upshift paddle

Note: Don’t worry, your BMW is designed to handle these inputs, and they won’t damage your engine or transmission. For example, using real-world data, we’ve found that BMW 3 Series can last 250k miles or more!

3. Close your trunk from inside the car

Have you ever loaded up your trunk, hopped in the driver’s seat, and then realized you forgot to close it?

Well, if your BMW is equipped with an automatic opening trunk, you can close it as well from inside the car!

To do this, lift the button that usually opens the trunk and hold it:

BMW driver's seat trunk release button

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!

4. Start your BMW from your key fob or the BMW app

Did you know that some BMWs are equipped with remote start?

You can activate this hidden feature using your key fob or the BMW app.

Just press the ‘lock’ button three times, and watch as your car roars to life.

Need to cancel the remote start? Press the button three times again, and it’s done!

Now, you can impress your friends and enjoy a pre-cooled or pre-heated cabin before stepping in your car.

5. Use BMW’s Launch Control

Have you ever tried BMW’s Launch Control feature?

If not, you can activate it by pressing the traction control button once, pushing the brake pedal all the way down, and then flooring the gas pedal.

Your BMW will rev up and hold the perfect RPM, ready for lift-off.

Release the brake, and feel the adrenaline rush as your car rockets forward!

Reader’s tip: The 8 Most Mod-Friendly BMWs on the Market! (2024 Guide)

6. Let the passenger side mirror pivot down automatically when in reverse

The next hidden feature is particularly useful when parallel parking.

Did you know that you can automatically let your passenger side mirror pivot down when in reverse?

It will give you a clear view of the curb, helping you avoid any embarrassing scrapes or dings.

You can enable this feature by ensuring your mirror adjuster button is set to the driver’s side:

BMW window opening and mirror adjuster button

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.

7. Use gesture control shortcuts

Have you ever tried BMW’s gesture control shortcuts?

If your BMW has a gesture control sensor, you can make specific gestures in front of the infotainment screen, and the car will respond.

Want to turn up the volume or answer a call? Just twirl your finger or point like you’re casting a spell:

8. Turn on heated seats automatically

The next hidden feature is that you can have your heated seats turn on automatically when the weather dips below a specific temperature.

To enable it, navigate the Climate Control menu, find Climate Control Rules, select Seat Heating, and set your preferred Individual Conditions.

Now, your BMW will ensure you’re warm whenever you hop in during cold weather.

9. Turn off automatic interior lighting

Sometimes, you just want to enjoy a little peace and quiet without your BMW’s interior lights staying on.

To turn off the automatic interior lighting, simply open your door and press the main light on/off button until the lights turn off.

Now you can relax in your BMW without the interior lights turning on!

FAQs about BMW features

Do you have questions about the features packed into your BMW? Take a look at these FAQs!

How do I get to BMW’s secret menu?

To access BMW’s secret menu, press and hold the trip reset button on the instrument cluster. After a few seconds, a hidden menu will appear on the display.

Use the trip reset button to navigate the options by pressing it briefly to move to the next item or holding it down to select a specific option.

What is BMW launch control?

BMW launch control is a feature that allows you to achieve maximum acceleration from a standing start. It manages the engine’s power output, the car’s traction, and the transmission to optimize acceleration, providing a rapid and controlled launch.

What is the hidden function on the BMW light switch?

The hidden function on the BMW light switch is the ‘auto’ feature, which automatically turns the headlights on or off based on the ambient light conditions.

When enabled, the car’s sensors will determine when it’s dark enough to activate the headlights and bright enough to turn them off.

Does BMW have a hidden key?

Yes, BMW has a hidden key inside the key fob. To access the hidden key, press the release button on the back of the key fob and pull the metal key out.

This key can manually unlock the driver’s door if the key fob’s battery dies or the car’s battery is dead, preventing the keyless entry system from functioning.


We hope these tips and hidden features will make your BMW experience even more luxurious, fun, and convenient.

So dive in and take full advantage of everything your BMW offers!

Experiment with the different tips, unlock hidden features, and turn your vehicle into a truly personalized driving machine.

Happy driving!

Tip: If you have a BMW 3 Series, you can find eight mind-blowing tips for it here!

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