BMW Drivetrain Malfunction (Meaning & Solution)

There are affiliate links on this article. If you make a purchase through any of the links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Got the drivetrain malfunction notification showing on your BMW’s center console? There are a few reasons why you see the notification, and there are equally different ways to reset the central computer to clear the error message. The BMW drivetrain malfunction notification appears on newer models with iDrive.

The notification, of course, shows there’s a problem with your car’s drivetrain; it could be transmission failure, clogged injectors, or failure of some other components that make up the drivetrain. You can fix the situation by resetting the ECU or clearing the error message using a troubleshooting tool.

This article explains the BMW drivetrain malfunction message meaning, its implications, and how you can resolve the issue so you can keep driving comfortably.

What Does BMW Drivetrain Malfunction Notification Mean?

When you get the “Drivetrain Malfunction” notification on your BMW’s iDrive screen, it can imply a lot of things, but it mainly notifies of a potential problem with the engine or transmission.

You can actually drive with the notification on, but you’ve got to be very careful and drive slowly. Well, sometimes, when this notification appears, there’s actually nothing wrong with your car.

The notification could pop up because you’re accelerating too quickly or driving at a fast pace through steep inclines. If this is the case, there’s nothing to worry about; the notification will clear off when you start driving normally again.

However, if the caution message frequently appears, even when driving on a straight road, then you’ve got an engine or transmission issue.

With the drivetrain malfunction notice showing on your car’s iDrive screen, the ECU would reduce and limit how the car drive; thus, some features won’t activate, and you may be unable to get the car to accelerate to high speeds. Resetting the drivetrain malfunction message isn’t a big deal and can be done in a few minutes.

What Happens When Drivetrain Malfunction Message Appears in BMW?

There is no particular scenario to occur as there are several possible reasons why the message appeared. However, these are the most likely scenarios to occur when you’ve got the drivetrain malfunction message showing on your car’s touchscreen.

  • Your car would drive at low speeds – you can’t accelerate to high-speed levels
  • The engine starts to idle rough
  • Intermittent vibration
  • Gearlever stuck in a particular gear
  • The car stops abruptly and refuses to start or drive further
  • The engine won’t deliver full performance and efficiency

Why Did The Drivetrain Malfunction Notice Appear on My BMW?

There are many causes of the error message, ranging from engine problems such as failed valves, clogged filters, blocked hoses, and drivetrain issues such as axle failure, transmission failure, wheel hub problems, bearings, and others. So, there are basically many reasons why the message is showing.

Nevertheless, there is a way to identify the exact reason why the message appeared, and that’s by using a BMW automobile scanning tool.

With the computerized scanner, you can figure out the main reason behind the message – whether it’s an engine problem or a transmission problem. Asides from using an auto scanning tool, you can carry out physical inspections in the engine bay.

How To Deal With BMW Drivetrain Malfunction Message

1. Restart and/or Inspect The Car

First things first, you have to drive to a safe spot and park – maybe when you’re home, inside  your garage – then begin with the procedure below:

  • Turn off the car completely, wait for some minutes, and then turn it back on. In most cases, the error message would be gone. But if not gone, proceed below.
  • Carefully inspect all the components in the engine bay one after another; if you notice any physical damage on any component, that could be the culprit.
  • Check the engine’s oil and temperature levels; if the oil is too low, that could be the culprit, and if the car’s temperature is so high, you’re dealing with an overheating engine, which is quite a different case.

If these tips above did not help the situation, get an OBD II scanner (or any auto scanner you’ve got) and reset the ECU.

2. Use an Auto Scanner (OBD II Tool)

  • Connect the OBD II scanner to the scanner port – usually under the steering wheel or somewhere beneath the dashboard.
  • Turn the car key to the “ON” position (note: don’t start the car)
  • Now turn on your scanner and launch the troubleshooter
  • As the troubleshooter runs completely, access and read the codes displayed on the scanner’s screen The codes are called DTCs, and each code signifies a faulty system or component in your car

If you’re unfamiliar with DTCs, simply copy the code and look up the internet for what the code depicts. That way, you’d be able to figure out the exact (faulty) component that caused the notification to appear on your car’s center console display.

3. Call On a BMW Mechanic

Well, if these tips don’t help clear the message from your BMW, then you should visit a BMW mechanic to conduct a professional inspection to detect what’s wrong with your car.

But then, working on a BMW can be quite costly because not all auto mechanics understand the engine’s arrangement and configuration; you must find a BMW-approved mechanic.

BMW Drivetrain Malfunction Repair Cost

Honestly, there is no specific cost range for fixing the drivetrain malfunction message notification. The cost is dependent on which component(s) need to be replaced, readjusted, or repaired.

BMW parts are pretty expensive; BMW drivetrain components can cost from $150 for little parts like spark plugs and injectors to over $2,000 for parts around the transmission region.

So, if the drivetrain malfunction notice appeared due to bad components, you may be spending between $300 and $3,000 to fix the problematic component(s). BMW labor cost is high because not many mechanics can understand the complex construction of the BMW engine and drivetrain assembly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drive With Drivetrain Malfunction Message On BMWs?

The drivetrain malfunction message would indicate if you should keep driving or not. You should act with the notification that appeared with the warning. But then, in most cases, the message doesn’t make your car stop driving; it only makes you drive at low speeds.

What is the Drivetrain on a BMW?

The drivetrain system in BMWs is the same as the drivetrain in other vehicles from other brands. The system comprises crucial parts and components that make your car drive, which include the transmission, driveshaft, differential, CV joints, axles, wheels, and others.

How Do I Fix My BMW Drivetrain Malfunction?

There are three main ways to get around the situation; first is to turn off the car and let it stay off for about 20 minutes, then turn it back on, and if this doesn’t work, use an auto scanner to troubleshoot the car. Lastly, if none of the two tips work for you, find a BMW mechanic to help you fix the issue.


So, why did the BMW drivetrain malfunction notice appear? The message could be indicating a faulty engine or drivetrain components or simply appearing because of an unusual driving activity (speeding too quickly or something similar).

When this message appears, you should slow down and drive more carefully while finding a safe spot to park – or just drive home – and troubleshoot the vehicle.

Related Posts:

Scroll to Top