BMW Auto Hold Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

BMW Auto Hold Malfunction

Modern BMWs come with a lot of fancy technology that can make your life a whole lot easier – but they can also cause unexpected problems as well.

If you’re wondering about what a BMW Auto Hold malfunction is and how to fix it, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Auto Hold, usually labeled simply as “Auto H”, is a feature on BMWs with a Steptronic transmission that automatically applies and releases the parking brake for you. There are a number of different ways that it can malfunction, and it can be turned off entirely if you prefer.

Here are a few steps you need to take in case of a BMW auto hold malfunction:

Step 1: Check that you are in park or neutral, check the battery, and put on your seatbelt

Step 2: Restart the vehicle

Step 3: Reset the Auto Hold

Step 4: Check for an update

Step 5: Reset all the electronics

Step 6: Inspect the switch for damage

Step 7: Check the wiring and connections

Step 8: Find the fault code

What Is The BMW Auto Hold?

So that we can really understand what might be going wrong with this feature in your car, and how to fix it, we first need to understand what it actually is.

The Auto Hold feature is an optional functionality of modern BMWs, that automatically applies the parking brake (otherwise known as the handbrake or emergency brake) in certain situations. Its main purpose is to stop the car from rolling when it is parked, but this system can also help you with hill starts and with stop-and-go traffic

Basically, the Auto H will hold the car in place so you don’t have to control it using the foot brake or the parking brake. It’s particularly handy when you’re stopping often – so that you don’t need to keep turning the parking brake off and on – or when you’re releasing the foot brake on a slope to change gears and start moving.

Not every BMW has the Auto Hold feature, as it requires a special kind of transmission that gives the function of manual gear shifting on an automatic transmission – known as a Steptronic transmission.

How Does Auto Hold Work?

For the Auto Hold to do its job, it needs to be activated. To switch it on, you only have to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Make sure the car is ready to drive and turned on.
  2. Locate the Auto H button on the console (typically at the bottom left).
  3. Press the button so that the LED illuminates, turning green.
  4. Check the instrument cluster on the display panel. You should see the words AUTO H illuminated in green there as well.
  5. Now, simply start driving and the Auto Hold should do its job!

The Auto Hold is designed to engage every time you become completely stationary by applying the regular foot brake. When you are coming to a stop, make sure that the foot brake is fully engaged, and the car completely stops moving.

If the Auto Hold has worked, you should see a Parking Brake indicator light up beneath where it says AUTO H on the instrument cluster. This means that the Parking Brake has been engaged and the car will not roll or move.

As soon as you press down on the accelerator, the Parking Brake should disengage, and you can move off as normal.

It is a very handy tool for people who struggle with stopping and starting again, particularly on hills, but it doesn’t always work as smoothly as you might hope.

Read also >> BMW Parking Lamp Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

Read also >> BMW Backup Camera Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

How To Fix Auto Hold Malfunction

So, what can you do when you’re noticing a malfunction with the Auto Hold feature in your car? Well, it is most probably related to the software that is controlling the feature, but it might be a problem with the physical connections and components that allow it to run.

You may well be able to get your Auto Hold running again with a couple of simple tricks, but it may take a more serious fix to solve it.

Our step-by-step guide will take you through everything you might need to do to get the feature back up and running.

Step 1: Check that you are in park or neutral, check the battery, and put on your seatbelt

First, the Auto Hold feature will only apply the Parking Brake when you are in park or neutral, it won’t work in any other gear.

If the battery in your car is very low, or you do not have your seatbelt on, this can prevent the Auto Hold feature in your BMW from turning on.

There are a few features in modern vehicles that simply won’t work unless the vehicle is in a ready-to-drive state and has enough power to keep everything running.

Step 2: Restart the vehicle

Then, try shutting down the car and turning it back on again. It may sound simple, but it works more often than it doesn’t, as it resets the basic electronic functions so that they are able to turn on as normal.

Step 3: Reset the Auto Hold

You can also try turning the Auto Hold feature off and on again. Locate the Auto H button on your central console, press it so that the LED turns off, wait for about 10 minutes, and then turn it back on again.

This is often enough to allow the software to properly reset.

Step 4: Check for an update

One of the downsides to having all of this fancy technology in our modern cars is that the electronics are affected by the software that runs them, and this will need updating from time to time. You can look to see whether a software update is available using the My BMW App by:

  • Opening the main menu
  • Select My Vehicle, then Settings, then General Settings, and then Remote Software Upgrade

Remote Software Upgrades (RSU) are available for most BMWs with operating system ID7 or newer. If your vehicle is not compatible with RSU, then you can search for the latest update on the BMW website, download it onto a USB stick, and insert it into the USB interface. Then, just follow the instructions on the display.

Step 5: Reset all the electronics

If your BMW is running the latest version of the operating system, and you are still having problems, then you can try a more drastic reset of all of the electronic systems in your car.

To do this, simply disconnect the battery, wait for between 10 and 30 minutes, then reconnect it and start the car back up again.

Step 6: Inspect the switch for damage

If this still doesn’t work, then there may be some damage or wear to a vital component in the Auto Hold system.

Most commonly, this would happen to the switch on the console, which might have experienced liquid contact or something similar. Have a look to see if it appears damaged and whether it seems to be pressing normally.

Step 7: Check the wiring and connections

If none of the above has managed to solve the issue, then it is likely a more complicated software failure or a problem with the wiring and connections inside the car.

These are a lot more difficult to deal with so, at this point, we are starting to get into the territory where it might be worth calling in a professional.

Step 8: Find the fault code

If you have a diagnostic tool, then you can scan the car to identify the exact fault code that might be causing problems with your Auto Hold.

Each individual BMW fault code refers to a specific issue, that you can either look up yourself or show to a mechanic or dealer.

Remember: You can always turn off the Auto Hold feature completely and apply the Parking Brake yourself when you need it.

What Does Auto Hold Malfunction Mean?

Unlike other features of the car, the Auto Hold won’t necessarily give you an explicit warning when it is no longer working.

Instead, you will probably just notice that it is not doing its job the way that it is supposed to. This can happen in a number of different ways, most commonly:

  • The Auto H feature does not turn on when the button is pressed.
  • One or both LED indicators do not turn on.
  • The Parking Brake does not automatically engage every time the car is stationary.
  • The Parking Brake won’t automatically disengage when you press the accelerator.

It is worth noting that many people find the BMW Auto Hold to be a little bit temperamental, even when it is working “normally”.

It might not always register that the car has stopped moving or that you are trying to move forwards again.

If you want to apply or disengage the Parking Brake and your BMW is not doing it for you, then you can simply ignore the Auto Hold and press the Parking Brake button yourself to apply it manually.

This should work regardless of whether or not the Auto H feature is switched on, and you can check the indicator on the instrument cluster to check.

BMW Parking Brake FAQs

How Do I Turn Off BMW Auto Hold?

To turn off the Auto Hold feature on your BMW, simply locate the button labeled Auto H on the central console. Press it so that the LED indicator turns off.

Then, check the instrument cluster to make sure that the Auto H indicator has been turned off there as well.

What Happens If You Drive With Auto Hold On?

You should be able to drive normally with the Auto Hold feature switched on, as it is only designed to engage when you are completely stationary and should disengage as soon as you apply the accelerator.

If the Parking Brake is not turning off automatically, then you will need to disengage it manually.

How Do You Release The Parking Brake On A BMW?

Most modern BMWs have an electric Parking Brake that is controlled by a button rather than a lever. The button has a symbol of a capital P in a circle, and it should be in the middle of the console.

All you need to do is press the button, and you should see the same symbol turn off on the instrument cluster.

How to use the Auto Hold function in your BMW >> Check out the video below:


So, what does a BMW Auto Hold malfunction mean and how do you fix it? The most common problems people have with the Auto Hold are that it doesn’t turn on when it should, or it won’t turn off when it’s supposed to.

If you’re having problems with your Auto Hold then you can try resetting the vehicle or the feature itself, checking for a software update, investigating for any damage, or (if all else fails) taking it to a dealer.


Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

Recent Posts

error: Content is protected !!