Drivetrain malfunction BMW — causes and fixes
BMW is one of the most prestigious car brands out there, and the automaker prides itself on superior engineering and excellent performance. Simply put, BMW cars offer style and practicality.
Notwithstanding, a faulty drivetrain can throw the best BMW car into chaos. Although this is a rare problem drivetrain malfunction in BMWs mainly results from an engine or transmission problem. Simple acts you may overlook cause the engine or transmission to malfunction, affecting the drivetrain.
What is a drivetrain malfunction on a BMW?
A drivetrain malfunction on a BMW is a fault caused by malfunctioning a vehicle’s transmission or engine. On the BMW, the first sign of this problem is an error message on the screen which reads: “Drivetrain Malfunction: Drive moderately. Maximum drivetrain output is not available. Consult service center.“
The message appears after the engine’s control module (ECM) detects a problem with the drivetrain or engine. Most modern cars have the ECM installed to optimize engine performance.
To arrest the situation and prevent the problem with the engine or transmission from extending to terrible heights, the ECM limits the vehicle’s maximum torque and activates the safety (or limp) mode. In this mode, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Transmission gives only one gear
- The vehicle goes off while idling
The ECM reduces performance, ensuring that you fix the malfunction or suffer poor driving experience to ensure your engine and transmission do not get damaged to the point where it needs a complete replacement.
What causes a drivetrain malfunction on the BMW to happen?
Most causes of drivetrain malfunction are based on aging and the clogging of certain parts. The main ones are:
Old or damaged spark plugs
Damaged spark plugs are a leading cause of many car problems, including a faulty drivetrain. If faulty spark plugs cause your drivetrain issue on a BMW, you should change all of them, not regarding which one looks good or bad. Leaving old spark plugs may disturb the engine and cause the same problem or a different one.
However, you do not have to worry about spark plugs if you have a diesel-run engine, as they don’t have any.
Faulty fuel injectors
A damaged or faulty fuel injector reduces performance in a BMW, reducing the power the engine transfers to the drivetrain to cause the wheels to move. The best move would be to replace the fuel injectors.
Damaged ignition coil
A damaged or old ignition coil causes the ECM to display the drivetrain error but also causes engine misfires. In some cases, it could be that the ignition coil attached to a cylinder is faulty and needs a replacement. It is best to have your auto mechanic handle such a situation to get a more in-depth repair where necessary.
A faulty high-pressure fuel pump
When a fuel pump cannot provide the right amount of fuel to the car’s engine to power it for acceleration, the drivetrain malfunction message pops up. Checks on the fuel pump are usually one of the first performed, as most drivetrain issues stem from it. Like the other parts, a faulty fuel pump would need a replacement to enable your BMW to regain its proper drivetrain.
Low octane fuel
Low octane fuel, commonly called low-quality fuel, reduces the BMW’s engine power resulting in the drivetrain not receiving enough energy. The fuel damages engines over time and can subtly cause engine knocking. To save your engine, your BMW’s ECM will pop up the drivetrain error message for you and activate the limp mode.
A clogged catalytic converter
A catalytic converter converts harmful gases into water vapor and CO2, which is less toxic. Pressure builds in the exhaust unit when the catalytic converter works slowly due to clogging.
The increasing pressure leads to clogging of the combustion chamber, making the engine stall. At this point, the limp mode gets activated to protect your engine. It is best to get a professional to unclog the converter and also possibly remove the cause of the clogging.
Battery problems are more common in cold weather because the cold slows down the electrochemical reaction of car batteries, weakening and draining their power. In a BMW, such a battery problem can cause the drivetrain error message to appear.
In this case, you must observe rules that take care of your battery in cold weather. When the engine is off, switch off the headlights, interior light, and electronics, and unplug all accessories. That would help you save power and avoid a drivetrain malfunction.
What do I do when the drivetrain malfunctions on BMW?
If you notice something off with the transmission or delivery, locate a safe space and switch off the engine. Wait up to ten minutes for the car to reset the drivetrain error. After the wait, start the car and drive home or to an auto repair shop.
If your BMW activates the limp mode for you, keep driving home or to the nearest BMW mechanic garage. There, they will check the engine, know what is causing the malfunction, and give solutions.
However, if after restarting your vehicle, it refuses to start, pop the lid and check your engine. Check for spills, leakages, and smoke and call for assistance. You can get directions on what to do to have it start so you can drive to a mechanic or have the mechanic come to you.
How to use the OBD-II scanner
If you have an OBD-II scanner, you can diagnose the problem with your BMW’s engine and transmission. The scanner checks the electronic gearbox (EGS) and adaptive gearbox (AGS) and displays an error code that you can use to know what is amiss.
Here is how you can use the OBD II scanner:
- Locate the diagnostic port of the OBD II scanner. You will find it under the driver’s side of the dashboard.
- Plug in the scanner and turn on the ignition (using the key) without turning on the engine.
- Choose your vehicle model from the options in the scanner.
- A bunch of codes will be on display. Select and read the codes.
Proper interpretation of the codes will tell you what part of the powertrain has issues so you can look into it. It eliminates the stress of checking every aspect of the drivetrain for errors, and also, it spots subtle faults you may miss while checking on your own.
If you do not have the scanner or the time to perform these diagnostics, you can get a good mechanic to find and fix the problem. Until the problem is fixed, do not drive the BMW again after parking to avoid increasing your engine’s issues.
How much does it cost to fix the drivetrain BMW?
Depending on the cause of the problem, fixing a BMW’s drivetrain can take between $1000 and $3000. For those who cannot afford to pay such money upfront, it is best to study the car and fix more minor issues before they aggravate to a higher level.
For example, noticing early leaking transmission fluids or gasket problems can save you up to $500 in repairs and prevent some sudden unlucky scenarios from a complete drivetrain malfunction. Nonetheless, if your vehicle warranty period is not expired, you can take advantage of that and get free repairs. However, if the drivetrain malfunction is caused by low-quality fuel, the warranty becomes void.
How do I avoid drivetrain malfunctions on my BMW?
The best way to prevent problems with the drivetrain is to create and stick to a maintenance schedule. Timely and regular maintenance checks will identify issues before they become a nuisance. It would also make sure you replace worn parts on time.
Regular maintenance will save you money that would have gone for repairs. Unless your BMW has an accident or something of that nature, routine maintenance should keep it from needing severe repairs.
The BMW’s engine control module is quite efficient in preventing engine problems from blowing out of proportion. Following its somewhat poor engine reliability with a failure rate of 1 in 45 cars, the ECM compensates for this allowing it to retain its performance crown with style.
The control module succeeds at reducing the engine mortality rate, and the fact that it saves money on extended engine repairs makes it an attractive choice for new car owners. You can comfortably get new models of the BMW with the assurance that your car’s engine will not catch fire or fail without the ECM throwing you a stern warning beforehand.
Is a drivetrain malfunction a severe problem?
Yes, drivetrain malfunctions are a serious problem. Without the drivetrain, your car will not move. It is best to arrest drivetrain problems early to avoid being stuck in the middle of a lonely road.
What is the meaning of drivetrain?
A drivetrain is a collection of parts that connect the driving axles and the transmission. These parts include the driveshaft, the wheels, and the universal joint.
Is the engine part of the drivetrain?
No, the engine is not a part of the drivetrain. The drivetrain receives power from the engine, making the vehicle move. A fault with the drivetrain often points to a problem with the engine.
Does the BMW warranty cover drivetrain troubles?
Yes, the BMW warranty covers drivetrain issues except when using low-quality fuel causes them. The warranty covers 50,000 miles or four years.