How to Change an Onboard Computer to English in a BMW E36


The onboard computer found in all E36 BMWs is a powerful tool, yet many of its capabilities are not listed in the standard owner's manuals that come with the car. One of the secret capabilities of the E36 onboard computer is the ability to change the language between German, French and English. If your onboard computer is set to another language and you wish to change it back, all you need is a few minutes and your car keys.

  • Insert the key in the ignition and turn it forward two clicks to turn on the car’s electrical equipment.

  • Locate the onboard computer in the bottom center of the dashboard. It has one large display screen, one small display screen and 18 keys.

  • Press and hold the key marked "1000" and the key marked "10" simultaneously until the phrase TEST-NR appears in the large display screen.

  • Press the key marked "10" once and the key marked "1" nine times until the numeral 19 appears on the large display screen.

  • Press the key marked "SET/RES" once until the phrase "LOCK: ON" appears on the large display screen. You must now calculate and enter a date-specific unlocking code.

  • Calculate the unlocking code by adding the numerical number of the current month, plus the day of the month. For example, if you are entering the code on June 4, the code to enter is 10.

  • Enter the date-specific unlocking code you have calculated by pressing the keys marked "10" and "1" until the proper number appears on the large display screen. Press the "SET/RES" key once. The onboard computer is now unlocked and the large display screen should again display the phrase "TEST-NR."

  • Press the key marked "10" once and then press the "SET/RES" key once.

  • Press the key marked "1" until the large display screen reads "LAND: 2 USA" and then press the "SET/RES" key once. The display will now be changed to English. Press the key marked "CHECK" once to exit the system.

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