The BMW temperature wheel dial near the center vents may be a mystery to new and old BMW owners. This unique feature often gets overlooked completely or gets noticed but confusion exists on what it does. When a BMW owner needs clarification on how to operate their vehicle, the first place we recommend looking is their BMW Owner’s Manual. If you do not have a physical copy, you can download a free PDF copy for most chassis, HERE.
What is the purpose of the center temperature dial wheel?
This temperature wheel dial adjusts the air temperature for the upper body vents without changing the set interior temperature for the dual climate control. This uniquely allows for split climate control for the upper and lower vents. This can come in use during extreme heat or cold. For example, when temperatures are extremely cold, occupants may set the interior temperature to 80 degrees F. This sets the temperature is for both the upper and lower vents. However, if this temperature too warm for your face but still needed to keep your feet warm, simply dial the air temperature towards blue for the upper. This feature allows more flexibility to dial in the exact combination of warm and cold air to your liking.
For owners who were not aware of this function, the following statements may be useful. If your vehicle has air conditioning on and the center vents are not as cold as you predict, check the center temperature wheel dial. It may be on the warm setting. This could save you a trip to the repair shop for a freon top off. The air conditioning may have been working fine all along and you were not aware the upper vent temperature was set to warm. The opposite is also true for when max heat is in use. If during max heat the upper vent temperature is not as warm as your setting, check the center dial, it may be left on cool from summer.
What model BMW was the temperature dial wheel featured on?
The first BMW model to feature the upper vent temperature wheel was the 1986 BMW E32 7 series. Like most car brands, the flagship vehicle features the latest technology first and the lesser models absorb the same technology later in the years. Consequently, the 1988 E34 was the first 5 series while E36 was the first 3 series with this feature.
This feature, to my knowledge, is unique to BMW only and not shared by any other auto maker. BMW has been implementing this feature since the 1990s and through the present day. Check out the images below to see how BMW implemented the temperature wheel dial throughout different interior designs.