Drivetrain Malfunction BMW: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Fix

One of the problems a BMW owner will always encounter is the Drivetrain Malfunction error on their dashboard.

The drivetrain is a combination of all the components of the vehicle that are responsible for moving the vehicle. They work hand in hand to help the engine propel the wheels.

Examples are the Transmission, axles, driveshaft, and wheels.

Also, there are in-built monitoring computer systems that are put in place to help notify car owners of any malfunction in the drivetrain.

These issues are relayed to the driver by displaying a warning light on the dashboard, and if these warnings aren’t attended to; could result in serious damage.

However, in the case of a BMW drivetrain Malfunction – it’s mostly a case of engine or transmission trouble stored by the ECM.

A drivetrain Malfunction doesn’t necessarily shut down your car system but it simply notifies you that the engine is experiencing difficulty moving your wheels.

Also, remember I said a drivetrain is a combination of several car systems; so let’s take a look a some of the Causes and symptoms of a drivetrain Malfunction on BMW.

Symptoms of a Drivetrain Malfunction

Once the ECM on your BMW car notices a malfunction on the car’s drivetrain, it’ll store a code and those codes will be backed up with certain signs.

If you don’t pay attention to how your car operates, you might not notice some of them until your car crashes.

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Here are a few symptoms of a drivetrain Malfunction on a BMW.

  1. Check Engine Light will illuminate
  2. Engine Hard Starting
  3. Rough Idling
  4. Car vibration
  5. Drivetrain warning message
  6. The transmission gets stuck in the gear
  7. Difficulty in engaging gear

Causes of Drivetrain Malfunction on BMW

Unlike other car faults, a malfunctioning drivetrain warning doesn’t necessarily the attention of a mechanic. The warning light comes on while driving under certain conditions and goes off after a while.

Below is a list of factors that cause the drivetrain Malfunction warning to ignite on a BMW car.

  1. A clogged catalytic converter
  2. Climbing uphill with your BMW car (temporarily)
  3. A sudden increase in acceleration
  4. A faulty spark plug(s)
  5. Use of Low-quality fuel
  6. Problematic ignition coil
  7. Faulty fuel injectors
  8. Faulty fuel pump

While there are times when you don’t have to worry when the drivetrain Malfunction light comes ON, there are also times you should.

If you’re climbing an uphill or accelerating too fast as usual and the warning light comes On then you shouldn’t worry much because the warning will clear off once you start driving moderately.

However, if the warning light doesn’t clear off or starts blinking then you need to address it immediately.

A clogged catalytic converter on its end will prevent the exhaust gases from exiting the system properly which will proceed to turn on the drivetrain warning light.

Also, be careful not to fill your gas tank with low octane content gasoline as this would cause a drop in engine power, stalling, and further ignite the drivetrain Malfunction light.

In addition, defects to components such as the fuel injectors, spark plugs, ignition coil, and fuel pump which make up the drivetrain will cause the drivetrain Malfunction error.

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In most cases, the drivetrain fault warning light might be accompanied by other error codes.

How to Diagnose a BMW Drivetrain Malfunction

Since issues related to the drivetrain are hard to sort because of its relation to a complex system, it’s important to first decipher the correct cause of the warning light before initiating repairs.

An OBD-II scanner is the right tool you can use to sort out the specific causes of the issue and know what to do in terms of repair.

Simply connect the OBD-II scanner to the port, then turn the ignition On without starting then read the codes from the scanner.

How to Repair a Drivetrain Malfunction BMW

After you’ve got the specific cause of the Malfunction, you can now check your manual guide for tailored fixes for you.

You can also search for the code on Google or our error codes page and apply the respective fixes if it’s doable.

If the code seems complex then it’s recommended that you take your car to an experienced mechanic.


How serious is a drivetrain malfunction?

Drivetrain malfunctions are quite problematic especially when they’re not noticed on time. Although there are some warning lights that clear off within a short time, it’s advised not to take any chances.

What does a drivetrain warning mean?

A drivetrain warning implies that the engine control module has noticed an issue in the engine transmission that needs to be fixed ASAP.


Drivetrain Malfunction on BMW can occur for the majority of reasons, if it’s a case of driving on a hill or overspending then it should resolve in no time.

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However, if the warning light still retains after driving moderately; then you’ll need to visit a mechanic.

We’ve also discussed some of the symptoms that are associated with a malfunctioning drivetrain.