Drivetrain Malfunction BMW: Reasons and Fixes Explained


BMW Drivetrain Malfunction

Modern vehicles have a self-monitoring system that helps you locate your car’s malfunctioning, and BMW is no exception. If something is wrong with your car, the self-monitoring system will alert you through a warning on the dashboard. One of the issues you may face is the Drivetrain Malfunction BMW error. It is not an error you may face often, but it needs immediate attention. The drivetrain malfunction may be caused due to the malfunctioning of the transmission or engine.

Your vehicle will switch to safety mode to protect the transmission, engine, and driver by limiting the engine output to save your vehicle from further damage. Other reasons for this malfunction are steep inclines, intense acceleration, and overtaking. You will see multiple indications if your vehicle has this error, like a rough ride, shaking, power cutting, etc. In this guide, we will discuss the BMW drivetrain malfunction, its causes, symptoms, and fixes to resolve the issue.

What Does the BMW Drivetrain Malfunction Mean?

The BMW drivetrain malfunction is a hardware error, and you will get this error if your car’s engine detects any issue in the engine or transmission. It shows errors like max drivetrain output not being available and driving moderately. It is good to consult the service center.

In these situations, your car will automatically turn on the safety mode in which the Engine Control Unit will limit the torque production. This safe mode of your vehicle will protect your car’s engine and transmission from further damage so that you can reach your destination without any accident.

Can I Drive My BMW With a Drivetrain Malfunction?

Yes, you can drive your BMW with a drivetrain malfunction. But it is safe to drive only for a short distance, and the computer of your car’s onboard switches it to safety mode. It will protect your vehicle from any expensive damage.

However, it is important to know that a drivetrain malfunction does not result from an immediate breakdown, so driving your vehicle for a few miles is safe.

But don’t neglect the issue; take your BMW to a service center as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

Why is the BMW Drivetrain Malfunctioning?

The engine generates power and transfers it to the wheels via the drivetrain. The transmission controls the gearbox to maintain the engine speed. Drivetrain malfunction BMW results from the components’ improper functioning and failure to complete their tasks.

It may happen because of the following reasons:

Overused Spark Plugs

Are you facing a misfire while experiencing a BMW drivetrain malfunction? Then it may happen because of the old or overused spark plug. If the old or overused spark plug causes an issue, it is important to change all the plugs instantly to prevent intense damage.

These spark plugs work for the combustion chamber and are responsible for the combustion fuel inside it. The production of sparks decides the combustion quality, which imposes the engine’s energy.

So, it is important that these spark plugs work without any malfunctioning to ensure the proper working of the engine. However, it is important to note that if your vehicle has a diesel-powered engine, it will not have spark plugs.

Old Ignition Coils

Old ignition coils are another reason that may cause the drivetrain malfunction. The ignition coils provide electricity to spark plugs to generate sparks. But what happens if these coils don’t work properly?

The malfunctioning, failure, or less power production will lead to a bad spark. If it is the case, you will see symptoms such as rough engine idling, misfiring, or power loss.

Failed High-Pressure Fuel Pump

If your car shows drivetrain malfunction during accelerating, the possible cause behind the issue is the faulty high-pressure fuel pump. It is important to have powerful pressure fuel pumps to transfer fuel from the tank to the engine.

It will happen by compressing the fuel by applying high pressure on the fuel lines. But the high-pressure fuel pump failure will not supply the fuel consistently, resulting in random power loss.

Clogged Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter is responsible for cleaning the exhaust emissions of your vehicle. This converter changes hazardous gases such as NO, CO, and NO2 to less harmful gases like CO2 and vapors.

But a clogged catalytic converter may slow down or stop the exhaust emission rate, resulting in building pressure in the unit. It will clog the combustion chamber, cause the engine to stall because of building press, and eventually cause drivetrain malfunction.

Damaged Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors in a vehicle inject fuel into the combustion chamber. If the fuel injector is malfunctioning, it will not inject it properly, causing bad combustion and power loss. It will lead to vibrations, misfires, idles, and engine stalls which is the reason behind the drivetrain BMW.

These are the common causes of BMW drivetrain malfunction. But other reasons include malfunctioning turbo, bad mass airflow sensor, low-quality fuel, and blown head gasket.

Symptoms of a Drivetrain Malfunction

Your car can show various symptoms when the drivetrain malfunctions. However, these symptoms may vary according to the causes and issues. You can point out the root cause according to the symptoms.

Knowing that the reasons and causes can be multiple for a certain indication is also important. It is also possible that you may notice different symptoms for a single reason. These possible symptoms of a BMW drivetrain malfunction are below.

  • Too much smoke from the exhaust
  • Shaking and vibration
  • “Drivetrain malfunction” error on the screen
  • The car would not start
  • Engine lights turn ON
  • Power cut off while idling
  • Transmission stuck in one gear¬†
  • Engine misfiring

We learned about the possible causes and symptoms of the drivetrain malfunction BMW. Let’s see the possible fixes to resolve the issue.

Fixes for BMW Drivetrain Malfunction

The following fixes will help you to resolve the BMW drivetrain malfunction.

Restart Engine

If the drivetrain issue suddenly pops up or you may feel something off with the power transmission, then the immediate thing you can do is stop your car. Turn off your vehicle and let it rest for up to 5 to 10 minutes.

It will temporarily resolve the issue and reset the malfunction so you can drive safely to your destination. After 5 to 10 minutes, restart your BMW and drive it normally. But if your car switches to safe mode, then it is recommended that you continue driving.

Don’t ignore this issue; you should contact your dealership or a professional mechanic to resolve the issue after reaching your place.

Check Engine

Is your car doesn’t work? Then inspecting the car engine thoroughly to see any issues is important. If you see any weird noise, oil spill, smoke, or transmission fuel leak, there is something major that needs professional assistance.

Sometimes the battery starts causing issues when your car remains idle in cold weather. The drivetrain malfunction is also caused due to the discharge of the battery or if you leave something plugged into your car. If it is an issue, you may need a jump start.

Scan Vehicle

Once you reach a safe location, scanning your vehicle using an OBD-II scanner is good. It will help you to diagnose your BMW and locate the error if it has. You may need to remember that only some specific scans will work for your BMW. You can check for compatible scans.

For your BMW, the Digital motor electronic (DME) has the code for the engine. The Electronic gearbox (EGS) or Adaptive gearbox (AGS) works for transmission. When you scan these modules, you will get an error code.  

Here are the steps to use the OBD scanner to diagnose the Drivetrain malfunction BMW.

  • Locate the OBD-II diagnostic port and insert the key in the ignition to turn it on but don’t start your engine.
  • After this, plug in the scanner, insert the key into the ignition again, and turn it on without turning on the engine.
  • At this stage, select your vehicle model in the scanner.
  • Finally, choose and read the EGS, DME, or AGS codes.

If you don’t know how to scan, contacting your dealership or consulting a professional is good. But it is important to resolve the issue before driving your car. You may damage your vehicle if you don’t pay attention to this issue.


We hope that you may learn from this guide to know about the BMW drivetrain malfunction, its symptoms, causes, and fixes. The issue may be caused due to a problem with the engine or transmission.

Drivetrain malfunction is rare in vehicles. Whatever the reason, it is important to address it immediately. Otherwise, you may damage your BWM. Practicing good driving habits for your and your vehicle’s safety is also important.

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