My BMW is fast approaching 7 years old, and given that the last Map Update was nearly four yeas ago I thought it was probably time I investigated how to update the maps.
At first it all looks pretty straightforward. There is a readily found web page that details the following instructions.
- Firstly, log-in to your My BMW Account using the icon in the site header. Navigate to “My Vehicles”.
- Select the vehicle for which you want to download a map update.
- Navigate to “Map update” section. A message will display if a new map version is available.
- Click “To manual map update” link and download the BMW Update Manager.
- Login to the BMW Update Manager with your My BMW credentials and select the vehicle that you would like to update the map for. After copying the map data to a 64GB FAT-32 formatted USB drive, you can proceed to load it into the vehicle following the instructions in the appropriate video below.
So, the first thing you have to do is create a MyBMW account. Not arduous.
Then you have to find a 64GB USB drive, and format the device as FAT-32. Well there is the first problem. FAT-32 is an old Windows / MS-DOS format and has a file size limit of 4Gbytes. So if you try to format USB Drive larger than 4 Gbytes on Windows (Certainly Windosw 7 or above), it will not allow you to format it as FAT-32. (The default format is EX-FAT, which will not work with your BMW).
Luckily I do have access to a MAC as well as a Windows PC, and on the MAC you can format USB drives as MS-DOS (which is FAT-32).
Once I had said USB drive formatted as FAT-32, I logged into my MyBMW account. I then had to add my vehicle, which you do by entering the VIN. Off I go to the car, find what I hope is the VIN. (The MyBMW site does helpfully indicate where on the car the VIN is usually located). I did find a rather long alphanumeric string on a sticker on the drivers door frame, which I hoped was the VIN – starts with WVA – entered that into the MyBMW app. It accepted it and came back having correctly identified car make, model and year.
- On the MyBMW web site click on My Vehicles
- Select the vehicle you want to update (OK, some people do have more than one BMW:-)
- Select Map Update
- Select Manual Map Update.
- Select and pay for the MAP update that you need. For me the choice was Europe West or Europe East. I chose Europe West and the cost was just under Â£50.00 including VAT. (And pleased to report no EU:UK Brexit surcharge)
- You then need to download the BMW Download Manager app to your PC/Laptop. You have the choice of Windows-64, Windows-32 or MacOS
- Then, obivously, download and install said app.
I chose the MacOS, because, as mentioned above, Windows does not allow you to format a USB drive over 4Gbytes as FAT-32.
If Windows is your only option, then you could use a third-party utility, like “FAT32 Format,” to format larger USB drives with FAT32. Alternatively, launch PowerShell as an Administrator and run “format /FS:FAT32 X:” in the Window to format the “X:” drive as FAT32. Swap “X:” for the drive letter assigned to your USB drive.
From within the BMW Download Manager you have to login, select your vehicle, and you can then download the maps. The download screen will request the destination device. Do not, at this time, select the USB. If you do it will inform you that you need to download the file to a local drive first, before transfering the maps to the USB. The reason is that the downloaded file is a single large ZIP file – size approx 16Gbytes. This willl obivously not fit on a FAT-32 configured device, as on FAT-32 file sizes are limited to 4Gbytes (See above comments).
Once downloaded you will be emailed a 20 character alphanumeric string. You will need this later when uploading the maps to the cars Cockpit Console.
With the ZIP file downloaded, the BMW Download Manager will request a destination device for the Maps. Now you can select the USB drive. the BMW Download Manager will inform you if the USB drive is not of the correct format or correct USB version for you vehicle. (I orginally tried to use a USB 3.0 drive. Apprarently my BMW will only accept USB 2.0 or lower).
Once initiated it takes around 45 mins to write the maps to the drive. During this process it states that it is Unzipping the downloaded file. And indeed if you inspect the USB once the maps have been loaded you will find a complete Directory / File structure, with no file greater 4Gb. The MAP files themselves are marked as .ATLAS
As an aside, the Western Europe Maps, which is what I needed, occupies just under 20Gbytes, so a 32Gbyte drive would be sufficient.
The instructions suggest that once plugged into the USB port in car, the On-Board Control Display automatically begins uploading the new maps. This was not my experience. I had to Navigate to Maps, and then press the Options button on the central console to be offered the option to update the maps (assuming that the USB stick has been recognised)
On selecting Upload you will be requested to enter the 20 character alphanumeric string mentioned above. At which point the maps will begin to upload. Upload time was approx. 60 mins.
It feels that the installation process could be made more straightforward. I do not know what the process is across the industry, but immediate improvements that BMW could make are:
- Use EX-FAT not FAT-32. That would eliminate the problem with of trying to format a large USB drive as FAT-32
- Have the BMW Download Manager undertake the unzipping process, thereby removing the need to download locally and then having to unzip to USB.
Ideally, I would have liked to have seen an option to download the updates direct to the On-Board Control Display. I understand that would take a LONG time, but if you are undertaking a long journey – why not have that happen in the back-ground. Indeed why not download each ATLAS file individually.
Finally I was disappointed when two days after downloading the maps I undertook a journey of around 120 miles only to discover that a number of junctions were already out of date.