- Key and Key fob
We’ll start with some simple ones for those newer to BMWs and the I3. This seemingly simple key actually has many hidden features. Everyone knows you can roll down your windows and sun roof on most BMWs by just holding the unlock button for a few seconds, but did you also know there is a physical key that has a couple of features of its own? Not only can it open the driver’s door, it can also lower and raise the windows if you hold it all the way to the right or left. Well, only the front windows, the rears are fixed in.
A couple other fun key features I found is that if you hit the lock button on your key fob when the windows are opened a little, it will go back up inch by inch and if you have a European version , you can just hold the lock button to close them completely. If your car is plugged into a charger and you lock it, you will also see the charge status. Lastly, if you hit the lock button twice within 10 seconds, it will DE-activate the tilt alarm and the interior motion sensor. Great for leaving a dog in the car.
- Door Handle
Speaking of leaving things in the car, you don’t have to open the rear door to put something in the back. You can use this handy handle on the back of the seat to lean it forward like in a 2-door car. However, if you do open the door and look in the corner here, you fill find that you have some pull tabs behind a cover. There are these manual pulls all over the car. You can open the charging port, the front trunk and fuel filler door.
- Fuel cap and charge port has a spot to be stored
While we are here at the fuel door, when you fill your car with either gas or electricity, don’t let the cap dangle, there is a built-in spot to keep them off the paint.
- Telescoping steering column
Switching over to the interior and controls, there are some fun ones here as well! For example, I recently learned that the steering wheel is not only adjustable up and down, but it’s also telescopic!? How cool!
- Turn Signal Cancel
Some of the features you use daily also have little tricks behind them. For example, when using a turn signal, you don’t have to push it the opposite direction and turn on the other one accidentally, you can simply tap in the same direction to cancel it. I know it solves a problem that BMW has created by changing how their turn signals work, but cool nonetheless.
- Follow me home and parking lights
You can also use this stalk to turn on follow me home lights by pushing the stalk away from you. Your low beams will stay on for 30 seconds. This is also why I upgraded mine to LEDs.
Similarly, you can turn on parking lights by pushing the stalk up or down. Left or right side of the car will stay on. Great for street parking or parking in an alley.
- Put car in neutral/skip neutral
Switching to the other side of the steering wheel, there are a couple of features here as well. You can skip Neutral when selecting Drive or Reverse by pushing the gear change lever past the first click. This one is easy to find after driving the car for a while, but how do you put the car in Neutral? You would think you can just pop it in N and turn it off… but it just goes to Park on its own. To do so, hold the gear lever and the power button for 3 seconds and the release both. Now you are in neutral and car is off.
- Can turn on radio when car is off
There are a couple of tricks with the entertainment system as well. As an example, you can power on the radio with the car off by simply hitting the volume/power button.
- Shortcut Buttons
Just to the right of the power button, we have some preset buttons, but what most people don’t know is that you don’t have to use it for radio, you can use it as a shortcut for almost anything in the system. For example, you can make one of them toggle the Hold State of Charge aka turn on the Range Extender or dim the control panel brightness or even switch to different music sources and much more. Fun fact, if you’d like to reset all of them, simply hold 1 and 8 at the same time.
- Hidden menu
Ok, ok, I hear some of you screaming that you know all of these already, but did you know that this small city car has a drift mode!?
Ok, it’s not actually called a drift mode, but there is a hidden menu that gives you tons of additional information and allows you to enable a roller mode where it will turn off the traction control, stability control, ABS and regenerative braking giving you full control of the rear wheels!
Getting into the hidden menu is fairly simple, you just hold the trip reset button for a few seconds and you are in! Here you can find a few options, including the roller mode which you can press and hold to enable. You can also unlock this menu for a ton more information, like your battery capacity, temperature and other specs not otherwise advertised. To unlock it, enter the sum of the last 5 digits of your VIN and you are in! I will do a full video on this as I think it deserves a deeper dive. We can even check out the CiC iDrive service menu in that video as well. Let me know if that is something you’d be interested in seeing.
- Coat Hanger
- Power plug
If you haven’t seen my camera install video, you might not know that there is a power plug right under the air vents, super convenient for charging your phone. Also, there is a hidden coat hanger behind this little cover. All you have to do is flip it around.
The last few items I wanted to mention have to do with the engine, driving and storing the vehicle.
One features that’s hard to figure out yourself as a driver is that when braking really hard, the car will also illuminate the lower lights, giving more of a warning to the cars behind, but not only that, if you open the rear hatch and your lights are no longer visible, the lower set will take over and work as regular lights and brakes! Great thinking on BMW’s part here!
- Rex Emissions Mode
- You can check oil level unlike other BMWs
Luckily BMW did more thinking around the range extender engine which leads me to the next hidden feature, you can put the car in emissions mode. This will turn on the engine and run it for 20 minutes to bring it up to operating temperatures and prepare systems for emissions testing. Your battery charge has to be under 75% as it will charge the battery as a side effect. Could be useful in an emergency! To turn it on, open the hatch, turn on the ignition and then press the accelerator pedal 3 times and hold on the third. Release and press the brake button followed by the Start and Stop button. The engine will start at this point. Another fun fact about this motorcycle engine is that it actually has an oil dip stick, so you can check the oil level unlike most other BMWs. Nice!
- Long storage hidden feature, hack:
The very last trick that could be useful for some has to do with storing a BMW i3 over longer time. BMW says not to allow the vehicle to sit idle for extended period of time on low charge, so it must be close to fully charged to be stored. This will work great for the high voltage battery, but you will still be risking killing the 12v battery since simply having the car plugged in will not charge it. So, to circumvent this, what you can do is set up a departure time once a week, this will power on the car and charge your 12v battery at the same time saving you a headache in the future.
Wow this turned out to be a pretty long video! So, I hope you have learned something new or interesting about a BMW i3 and if you are a hardcore enthusiast, I’d love to hear some of the things I’ve missed. Also, if you’d like to access some more truly hidden features, check out this video where I show you how to code your car for more range, true control of the range extender and even adding a sport mode! Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!