Most BMW cars come with an iDrive system, which offers a wide range of functions. In addition to the usual stereo and media players, there is satellite navigation, Internet connectivity, and smartphone mirroring.

BMW is constantly improving this system, with advances in the head unit, hardware, faster processors and better user interfaces.

The main iDrive iterations are CCC CIC NBT and NBT Evo.

CCC is the oldest generation, BMWs built earlier than 2008. By today's standards, it has limited functions.

CIC is next in the line of iDrive systems and can be found in BMWs up until 2014, with a few exceptions. CIC stands for Car Information Computer. It has an updated homepage layout in addition to the updated high-resolution screen and better graphics. Depending on your activation package, it can be configured with enhanced Bluetooth, which means pairing multiple devices streaming music and hands-free calling.

Although Bluetooth music streaming is an upgrade from the CCC system, you still can only choose the previous or next in your song options. CIC is also the first system that allows you to play DVDs straight through the head unit.

Symptoms

As this system is made out of several components, it can suffer from various failures. Some symptoms you may encounter are:

  • Satellite navigation can freeze up from time to time, or it can shut down completely. Similar may also happen with the stereo system, at the same time as the navigation or separately. This will leave you with no sound and blank iDrive screen. In addition to freezing, the iDrive system might be constantly rebooting.
  • There is no reaction of the iDrive system to the commands given through the iDrive control knob. You will be under the impression that the knob spins freely.
  • Sometimes, a Smartphone or other paired devices may fail to connect to the iDrive system, or this connection may be lost while driving. In some cases, there will be an SOS call warning light on the dashboard. Both of these symptoms indicate problems with either a Bluetooth receiver or a satellite radio unit. Both of these are located in the trunk (insert link)

Common Problems

  • CIC unit hardware failure. This system is less prone to this than the previous CCC system, which had a high failure rate caused by burnt microprocessors. However, it is still possible for electronic components to fail for various reasons. It is possible to repair the unit. This is much cheaper than replacing it.
  • iDrive control knob can fail as a result of constant usage over a long period. In most cases, the problem is within the micro contacts. Sometimes, dirt and other contaminants can damage the electrical board inside the controller. Repairing and cleaning is relatively simple and doesn't require any specialized equipment.  Sometimes a simple reboot will solve the problem with the iDrive system. To reboot, just press and hold the volume knob for 15-20 seconds. The display will go black for a short time.
  • A blown fuse will shut down the whole iDrive systems. On most models, this fuse is located in the glove box, behind the panel.
  • Lastly, a software update will solve potential glitches. First, you need to visit the BMW website and download the newest software to the USB drive. After that, you need to plug that USB drive into your car and go to the software update option within the iDrive menu.