How to Make Use of BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding?

for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

What exactly is BMW Rheingold ISTA?

ISTA is workshop system that contains data and information from BMW AG. ISTA is an acronym that stands for Integrated Service Technical Application. 
BMW used DIS (Diagnostics Information System) during the initial development of this tool, and as the programs evolved and due to the nature of BMW’s file naming conventions, the workshop system became known as Rheingold in the enthusiast world.  Rheingold is the folder that houses the main application and data. Rheingold was renamed ISTA-D (D stands for Diagnostics),  and BMW’s programming application (not covered in this document) used the same nomenclature, ISTA, but with (for programming) or ISTA-P.
  • ISTA+ PROGRAMMING is only for F, G, and I Series, Mini, and Rolls Royce cars
  • ISTA-P will be to program E-series only and ISTA+ will program everything else.
  • ISTA+ programming with Enet or Enet WiFi adapter WILL NOT work! ICOM Next A  is required!

BMW Rheingold ISTA Functions

  1. Reading and clearing module (ECU) errors
  2. Erasing gearbox (transmission) and engine modifications
  3. Fuel injector control, real-time correction amount viewing, and injector registering
  4. Engine mountings inspection
  5. Testing and registration of mass airflow (MAF). Testing of the entire air system
  6. Control and testing of the EGR system
  7. Control and testing of turbochargers and related components
  8. Regeneration of diesel particulate filters (DPF)
  9. Replace the battery
  10. Oil change and resetting of service intervals
  11. Wiring diagrams, live data, repair instructions, technical documents, and so on
  12. Programming, vehicle retrofitting, mirror coding, FSC code addition or updating, and so on…
    … And numerous other functions
This guide will teach you how to use the BMW ISTA software to perform programming and coding tasks.

Completing vehicle programming and preparation steps

The primary requirement for effective programming is that the vehicle is properly prepared.


  1. Park vehicles on the level and even ground.
  2. Protect the vehicle from direct sunlight whenever possible.
  3. Deactivate the engine
  4. Put the manual transmission in Neutral or the automatic transmission in Park.
  5. Use the parking brake or activate the electromechanical parking brake.
  6. Ensure that the transmission fluid temperature is between -40 °C (-40 °F) and 85 °C (185 °F).
  7. Deactivate all electrical loads, lights, and turn signal lamps.
  8. Deactivate the wiper/washer system. During programming and initialization, the wipers can be activated. Check that the wipers can move freely.
  9. Make a list of all saved radio and television frequencies, as well as navigation destinations.
  10. In the engine compartment, connect a BMW Group-approved battery charger.
    When programming, the battery charger must be set to “external power supply mode with the battery connected.” Please refer to the battery charger’s operating instructions.
  11. During programming, do not connect or disconnect the battery charger. Programming may be canceled if the system voltage is low. While programming, make sure the vehicle system voltage does not fall below 13.0 volts.
  12. Connect the workshop network, the vehicle interface, and the vehicle.
  13. Examine the cable routing. Cables routed through open windows may be damaged if the windows are automatically started. Cables should not be routed through open windows.
  14. Turn on the ignition (terminal 15)
    The identification transmitter must be inserted into the ignition lock on vehicles equipped with Comfort Access. If the identification transmitter is not inserted into the ignition lock, the coding procedure will be terminated. If the vehicle does not have an ignition lock, the identification transmitter must be installed inside the vehicle.
    − The signal from the door contact switches off terminal 15 by opening and closing the driver’s door on vehicles with automatic terminal 15 shutdown (as of 03/2007). By pressing the START-STOP button, Terminal 15 is turned on permanently. During the programming procedure, make sure the driver’s door contact is not activated.
  15. Use the ISTA workshop system to test the vehicle to ensure that all installed control modules respond and that any fault memory entries are read out.
  16. Before programming, repair any faults that may be present and delete any fault codes that may be stored.
  17. Determine CBS data, record it, and close the ISTA workshop system.
  18. Preparations: 
    Disconnect connected data (iPod®, etc.) and remove inserted data media (DVD). 
    Data media in drive or still connected to computer could cause programming to fail 
  19. Make sure the boot lid is closed before beginning vehicle programming (to prevent the luggage compartment lighting from overheating).

During the ISTA program

  1. Observe and follow ISTA/P requests and instructions.
  2. Leave the ignition on and follow the ISTA/P instructions (e.g. CAS)
  3. Do not disconnect the workshop network, vehicle interface, or vehicle.
  4. Close the boot lid again after any action in the luggage compartment (e.g., loading/removing navigation DVD) to avoid overheating of the luggage compartment lighting.
  5. During programming, only perform the activities specified by ISTA/P on/in the vehicle.
    for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

How to use BMW ISTA for programming and coding

  1. Finish the procedure for completing the measures plan by clicking “OK.”
    If an ICOM is connected to the MOST direct access port, disconnect it when requested by the ISTA/P system, remove the ICOM from the MOST ring, and close the MOST ring with the vehicle’s original flash plug (bridge). If the ICOM is not properly disconnected from the MOST direct access port, fault codes may be entered and MOST control modules may be registered incorrectly.
  2. Carry out the final procedures in the vehicle test, such as calibration, initialization, service functions, and so on, as specified in the final report. 
    Individually confirm job completion.
    Enter the time and date to ensure that the CBS values in the vehicle are correctly calculated. 
    Reinstall and test all removed or disconnected data media (DVD, iPod®, etc.) after programming.
    In the ISTA workshop system, compare the previously printed or noted CBS data of the control modules and, if necessary, reset and correct as part of the vehicle test. Perform vehicle test using the ISTA workshop system and end the test when it is finished.

    Note: Park the vehicle for at least 5 minutes (BN2000 and BN2020 vehicles) or 16 minutes (I-bus vehicles) with terminal R turned off so that all control modules can enter sleep mode, i.e. rest state. Please keep in mind that control modules that do not enter sleep mode (rest state) can cause closed-circuit current faults!
    Check that the vehicle is in good condition.
    Check all noted radio and television frequencies, as well as navigation destinations, and manually store if necessary.
    for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

Starting an ISTA/P session

How to Make Use of BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
  1. ISTA/P switch
  2. Button for Callback Assistant
  3. Press the Workshop System Management (WSM) button.
Start ISTA/P by selecting “Programming, Coding, Individualization” from the ISSS Jumpgate.
On an ISSS, a maximum of three vehicles, or one model series F01/F02 vehicle, can be programmed and encoded with ISTA/P.
Note: It should be noted that the vehicle must be properly prepared for efficient programming. Refer to the section “Preparing vehicle programming and finishing off” when programming and coding.

Assist with Callbacks

The Callback function in the ISIS workshop system management is to be used if problems with the IT system’s infrastructure (e.g., ICOM connection not possible) occur in the applications or during programming. The Callback function is a callback form that is triggered by the user. The WSM User Guide contains a detailed description and instructions.
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
  1. Callback Assistant button
  2. “New callback” button, for creating a new case

If the ISTA programming is terminated, follow this procedure.

If the programming or coding procedure is terminated during a programming session, follow the instructions provided by the programming system.
If the disruption in programming and coding is related to the vehicle and cannot be resolved in the workshop, contact Technical Support.

The menu bar and the voltage display

The menu bar contains direct access to functions and actions. Below the menu bar, the voltage of the connected vehicle is displayed:
  1. Change to “Session” menu (ISTA/P start screen)
  2. Change to “Administration” menu
  3. Change to “Connection manager”
  4. Battery charge status is shown in percent (only ISID)
  5. Print
  6. Help function for ISTA/P
  7. Minimize application
  8. Close application
  9. Terminal 30 in volts
  10. Terminal 15 in volts
    for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

Sorting selection list

  1. Column headings, showing the “Data management” menu as an example
The selection list can be sorted in ascending or descending order by clicking on a heading of a column that can be sorted.
Sorting is indicated by a white triangle pointing up or down. Columns that can be sorted are e.g. “Session name”, “Start time”, “Server” or “VIN”.
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

New session (ISTA/P start screen)

  1. “Session” menu
  2. “Session Overview” tab
  3. “Create new session” tab
    for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
All sessions that are currently running are shown in the session overview of the ISTA/P start screen. The session overview can be selected at any time by clicking on the “Session” menu button. Existing sessions can be adopted by selecting from the session overview and clicking on the “Continue” button.
A new program session is started via the “Create new session” tab.

Selecting the programming system (ISSS) automatically/manually
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

  1. Select ISSS automatically
  2. The “Continue” button, confirms the selection
  3. Select ISSS manually
If “Select ISSS automatically” is selected, the programming system (ISSS) with the lowest number of current programming sessions is selected automatically. If there are several programming systems with the same number of programming sessions, any programming system is selected automatically.
The programming system must be selected manually if “Select ISSS manually” is selected.

Selecting programming system (manual session selection)
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

  1. Display of detected programming systems (ISSS)
  2. Status of programming system
  3. “Continue” button
  4. Update Renewed check of connected programming systems
The detected programming systems (ISSS) are shown together with their status.
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding

Select an available programming system and confirm by clicking on the “Continue” button.

Connection manager:
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
  1. Type of interface
  2. Interface status
  3. “Connect” button
The detected interfaces (ICOM) are shown together with their status.
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
Select a free interface from the list. Click the “Connect” button after selecting the interface.
The vehicle order or central coding key is read out. Refer to the document “ISTA/P Data Management” if the vehicle order or central coding key cannot be read out.
Retrofitting and conversions
Individual retrofits for the model series will only be offered by ISTA/P if they are actually possible. This prevents incorrect programming of control modules. If the retrofit is not offered by ISTA/P by mistake, please consult Technical Parts Support via the ASAP Portal.
The items displayed in ISTA/P may differ, depending on the equipment fitted and national market specifications.
Only the items specified in the Electronic Parts Catalogue (Group EPC) are approved for retrofitting.
Explanatory notes about individual retrofits and conversions available in ISTA/P will be supplied by Technical Support as part of the fault elimination measures.
Procedure for retrofitting or conversion of systems requiring programming or encoding:
Read out vehicle data with ISTA/P and determine the measures plan. See Section: Starting a new session with ISTA/P, select the “Vehicle” tab.
Select “Conversions”.
Select retrofit or modification system (e.g. “PDC”).
After selecting all retrofits or conversions, select “Determine measures plan”.
The selected retrofits or conversions are itemized in the action list.
Vehicle menu:
for BMW ISTA for Programming and Coding
1– “Conversions” tab:
The retrofits and conversions available for the vehicle are shown, see “Retrofits and conversions”
2– “Vehicle actions” tab:
Clear fault memory
Select complete coding
Start system time of all airbags control modules.
3– “Vehicle” menu
The retrofits and conversions are listed under the “Conversions” tab in the “Vehicle” menu. All retrofits are shown first, followed by the possible conversions available for the connected vehicle.

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