BMW F2x F3x Shift Paddle Retrofit [Full Guide]

This guide will walk you through the process of retrofitting paddle shifters on the M-Sport (P710) M Sport Leather Steering Wheel) and regular Sports steering wheel. 

Before we begin, let’s take a look at how the system works.

How Does Shift Paddles Work

The gears can also be selected with the two shift paddles on the steering wheel, in addition to the sequential gear selection with the selector lever.

Upshift: Pull the right shift paddle briefly (+)

Downshift: Pull the left shift paddle briefly (-)

The steering column switch cluster (SZL) does not process the button signals, and hence just relays the gearshift request.

Direct lines are used to send the resistance encoded signals to the front electronic module (FEM). The Front Electronic Module contains the central gateway module (ZGM). 

The central gateway module (ZGM) acts as a self-contained control unit within the Front Electronic Module, making it a control unit within a control unit (FEM).

The message is received by the electronic transmission control (EGS) through a bus signal on the PT-CAN.

As you can see on the diagram above, each shift paddle has a 2-pin connection. The message is sent via single SP_SIG line (pin 2). The left and right shift paddles are resistant-encoded. 

That means that the left paddle generates different resistance than the right paddle. 

Note! This signal line connecting the steering column switch cluster and the front electronic module is missing on some BMWs. I never figured out the pattern, but the wire was basically just missing on some 4-cylinder base versions.

In addition, resistance encoding differs between BMW models. As a result, F10 paddles will not work with F30. F82 M4 paddles are the same way. The paddles shown in this guide are aftermarket parts for the F30 that look identical to the F8x paddles.

So, if you want to make genuine BMW F8x paddles to work on F2x or F3x you’ll need to replace soldered resistors inside. 

Shift Paddles Retrofit Procedure

For the retrofit, you can use either genuine BMW parts, aftermarket, or used. If you retrofit the M sport steering wheel you’ll need to replace the steering wheel back trim. If you retrofit the sport or basic steering wheel, you’ll need to replace the steering wheel or cut the holes to install the paddles. I’ll cover both methods. 

M sport steering wheel 

Aftermarket retrofit kit for the M Sport steering wheel. 

I generally use M4 paddles and an aftermarket kit. Depending on where you find them, they cost between $150 and $200. I’ve also purchased a few sets for under $100 on AliExpress.

The quality narrative is similar to that of any aftermarket Chinese part — persistent inconsistency. 

One set operates identically to genuine BMW parts, while the other does not. Poor electronics housing quality is most common, and the symptom is that shifting gears requires a lot of force.

So, if you choose this path, be aware of the risk.

If you decide to go with genuine BMW parts, the retrofit will set you back for about $650-700.

Parts Required 

M-Sport steering wheel

  1. Steering wheel trim
  2. Left and right shift paddle
  3. Steering wheel wiring harness

Remove the steering wheel 

Replace the steering wheel trim 

Install both shift paddles and steering wheel wiring harness

Shift Paddles Wiring (SZL→FEM)

If the shift paddle signal wire is missing, you need to route a single wire from the steering column switch cluster (SZL) to the front electronic module (FEM). 

A83*2B Pin Assignments

1Not used
2Not used
3Signal shift paddles (SP_SIG)
4Not used
5Not used
6Not used
8Not used
9Terminal 30F
10Not used
11LIN signal
12LIN signal 

Connection To The Front Electronic Module (FEM)

Connector A173*7B location 

Connect the SP_SIG wire to A173*7B connector PIN 5 (Shift paddles signal). 

Assemble the car and you are ready for coding. 

F3x Shift Paddle Coding

If you are familiar with E-Sys, the coding part is rather simple. You’ll only need to decide which of the two possible options to choose:

Coding With Sport Automatic Transmission (2TB)

  1. Launch E-Sys and connect the car (F020)
  2. Select Expert Mode
  3. Read and activate FA
  4. Calculate FP and save
  5. Open FA editor and change FA from 205 to 2TB
  6. Save and VO code: FEM_BODY, ICM, KOMBI and EGS

Coding Only Shift Paddle Function (Without 2TB)

  1. Launch E-Sys and connect the car (F020)
  2. Select Expert Mode – Coding 
  3. Read and Activate FA
  4. Read ECU
  5. Select FEM_BODY from the ECU tree
  6. Read CAFD
  7. Edit CAFD at FEM_BODY→3190 PADDLE_VERBAUT from nicht_aktiv to aktiv
  8. Save 
  9. Select Expert Mode – Coding
  10. Code FDL 

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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