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Car Corner
Installing Passport 8500 X50 Radar Detector in BMW 335i

May 1, 2008
By Scott Lewis

It did not take long for me to buy a new radar detector for my 335i. This car is plenty fast, and having a radar detector is a must (although my son disagrees, but that's for another article).

Passport 8500 X50

I bought the Passport 8500 X50... in red. The blue model was $38 more just for a blue display. Not! I have had nothing but good experience with Escort/Passport radar detectors in the past. My previous radar detector was a Passport that I bought in 1988. In fact, I still have it, though it looks kind of ugly now and its mounting bracket was broken and thrown away years ago. In my 93 Camaro I use to "rest" it on top of the sun visor. The X50 is the forth radar detector from Escort I have had personal experience with, and all have been excellent.

The Installation

One of my pet peeves is a radar detector right smack in the middle of the windshield with a "phone cord" hanging from it to the lighter. I hate this. When I bought my first radar detector in 1988, it came with two power cords. The typical coiled cord that plugs into a cigarette lighter and a long, straight wire to "permanently" wire it into a car.

I was not content with the coiled cord, especially in a luxury car like the 335i. So I purchased the Direct Wire SmartCord (http://www.escortradar.com/x50-accessories.htm) with the X50. It was very easy to install... once I found a place on the fuse block to mount it.

The BMW's fuse block is located behind the glove box. Just twist two platic tabs and the back panel of the glove box drops out to reveal the fuse block. There were a lot of open slots I could have used. But how to KNOW which one. Well, I used trial and error. I took an alligator clip to hold the ground to something and just kept sticking the positive end of the power cord into slot after slot. Most of the empty slots would power the Passport with the car turned off. This is not good. You only want power when the ignition is on.

Eventually I used slot #27 and the Passport X50 comes on when I start the car. Perfect! There is a diagram card stuck in the back side of the removable panel of the glove box. It numbers each fuse. The front of the card uses icons to tell you while feature of the car uses which fuse. Since I wanted an open fuse slot I just had to keep trying.

Once I found the slot I wanted to use I installed an "Add-a-Circuit" to the positive power cord, put a 5 amp fuse into it and plugged it in (the white circle). Next I connected the ground cord to a large, crimp-on eyelet. I used wire cutters to trim the front section from the eyelet to make it a slip-on. I then loosened the large torx bolt and slid the ground behind it and tightened it up. (The white arrow in the photo points to where the ground wire was attached, though the wire is not present in the photo as I was trying to get a shot of the fuse block with the add-a-circuit).

I mounted the X50 as high on the windshield as I could... just above the rear view mirror. I stuffed the wire into the headliner heading toward the passenger side of the car. I then ran it down the the A pillar closest to the door opening. Finally I was able to stuff the wire behind the glove box from the side of the dash.

It looks as clean as any install I have seen short of a remote mount system. But unlike a remote mount system I can unplug it from the 335i and use it with the coiled car in a pinch in another car. In fact, this is what we will do when we load up the SUV for our annual trip to the cost this summer.

Conclusion

Although it cost an extra $36 bucks ($30 for the Direct Wire SmartCord and $6 for the Add-a-Circuit) it was well worth it for a super clean installation. Don't wimp out.. try it yourself.

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