BMW Backup Camera Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

BMW Backup Camera Malfunction

The BMW backup camera is an incredibly useful piece of kit. Nobody really wants to be reversing into something with their beautiful BMW, after all.

Of course, like most vehicle components, your BMW backup camera can run into an issue or two. So, what happens if those dreaded words appear on your vehicle’s dashboard; BMW Backup Camera Malfunction? How do you fix it? Is it even possible? Well, here are a few steps you need to take to solve a BMW Backup Camera Malfunction:

1.     Checking The Vehicle’s Battery

2.     Cleaning The Camera

3.     Checking The Fasteners On The Camera Mount

4.     Checking The Cabling 

What Is a BMW Backup Camera Malfunction?

This is probably the toughest question to answer on this page. This is because the term ‘BMW Backup Camera Malfunction’ could mean a whole host of different things.

It could mean that your camera is broken. It could mean that one of the sensors is on the way out. It could mean that there isn’t enough power flowing through to the BMW backup camera, meaning that it keeps cutting out.

Unfortunately, it isn’t really a problem that is immediately obvious, and unless you have diagnostic equipment to hand, it is highly likely that you will be spending your time thinking about things to see what works/doesn’t work.

We are going to give you ways to diagnose and fix the problem here. However, do bear in mind that the BMW backup camera is a sophisticated piece of equipment, so there is only so much that you can do short of heading to your local BMW dealership.

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Fixing The BMW Backup Camera Malfunction Yourself

As we said, there isn’t a whole lot that you can do to fix the BMW backup camera malfunction yourself.

This is because if there is an issue, in almost all cases, it is going to be due to a problem with the insides of the camera and it may need recalibrating.

Still, there are some issues that you may be able to fix, so we suggest that you go through each of these methods before you decide whether heading to a BMW dealership is in your best interests. 

We are going to go from the least invasive method to the most invasive. In most cases, you should be able to fix the malfunction early on.

Remember, the malfunction warning on your dashboard won’t clear right away. You may need to drive a few miles before the warning clears. You may even need to try reversing your vehicle. 

Checking The Vehicle’s Battery

One of the main reasons why a backup camera suffers from a malfunction is because it isn’t getting enough power. If you have not replaced your vehicle’s battery in the last 5 years, then it is time to swap it out.

If your vehicle’s battery is new, then you may want to charge the battery. There will often be an indicator on the vehicle’s dashboard if the battery needs to be charged.

It is worth noting that if the battery is the problem, then there is a good chance that you may notice other electrical issues.

However, in our experience, the backup camera will be one of the first electrical gadgets in your vehicle to start suffering from problems. This is because it isn’t ‘essential’ that the camera gets power. 

Cleaning The Camera

Next up, you can try cleaning your camera and any sensors in the area.

You just need a wet cloth for this. Don’t add any soap to it, because it could end up smudging the camera. 

If your system works again after you have cleaned the camera, then we suggest giving it a clean every so often.

We clean our backup camera lens every few months. You may need to do it a bit more frequently if you live in an area with a lot of dust, or if you spend a ton of time driving through muddier areas. 

Checking The Fasteners On The Camera Mount

This is a problem that some BMW owners have run into, and it may cause a BMW backup camera malfunction.

There are many reasons why this could happen. In some cases, it could be because something hit the camera and, in other cases, it may be because the camera mount wasn’t secured properly in the first place. In ultra-rare situations, the screws may have just worked themselves out over time. 

There are a variety of screws holding the BMW backup camera in place. You may want to try tightening up a few of these. You just need an average screwdriver for this.

If any of the screws have started to rust away, then you can try replacing them. They are average screws, so head to your local hardware store and get a match. In rare cases, you may need to replace the whole camera mount.

In many cases, this can fix the problem. However, unfortunately, if the camera mount was too loose, then you will have no choice but to head to a dealership.

This is because an incredibly loose camera will need to be recalibrated. 

Checking The Cabling 

The final thing you can do is check the vehicle’s cabling. This will be located in the vehicle’s trunk. You will need to remove the panels to access it.

You are looking for a few things here:

  • Loose cables
  • Rusted cables
  • Frayed cables

You can fix the problem how you see fit. For example, loose cables can be soldered back into place, and rusted and frayed cables can be swapped out.

Head to your local car parts dealer to get replacement cables, but even your local electronics store will have something available. 

Remember, if you are working on the electrics for your vehicle, you will need to make sure that the battery is disconnected. You don’t want to deal with an electric shock, after all. 

Diagnosing The Problem

If you want to diagnose the problem properly, then short of a few observations, you will need an OBD2 scanner.

This is a small computer that you plug into your BMW’s computer. The OBD2 scanner will then give you a digital readout that tells you exactly what the problem is. Well, it will give you an error code, which you can then compare against the error codes for your selected model.

With this error code, you should get more of an idea about what the problem may be with your BMW. Although, somewhat frustratingly, it may not be as descriptive as you would hope.

Still, you may get more of an idea about whether there are battery issues, or whether there is a deeper problem that will ever need to be fixed by heading to a proper BMW dealership.

You can also give a quick visual inspection of the camera. Check to see whether there is any dirt or grime on the camera lens.

Check that the mounting is secured into place, and make sure there are no loose wires. All of these have been known to cause the BMW backup camera malfunction, so fixing them should be a priority. We will talk more about that in a short while.

Will the Backup Camera Work If It Is Malfunctioning? 

Yes. Having a malfunction doesn’t mean that the camera stops working. You will still be able to view the camera if you look at your vehicle’s dashboard.

The problem is that you can’t rely on any of the sensors that you may find on your BMW backup camera. This means that you can’t trust it when you are reversing.

Remember, there are situations when the camera may stop completely, but in all our research, it is highly unlikely that this is going to happen.

If it does, then it probably isn’t a problem that you can fix yourself. Your only option in that circumstance is to talk to your local BMW dealership. 

When Should You Go To a Mechanic?

When you can’t fix the problem yourself.

We are going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to fix a variety of issues shortly. However, as we mentioned a bit earlier on, the backup camera is a very sophisticated piece of equipment. Every so often, it is going to need to be recalibrated.

There are a lot of reasons why a BMW’s backup camera may need to be recalibrated. It may. for instance, be because you have changed something in the rear of your vehicle.

It may be because something has knocked against the BMW’s camera at some point. It may be because the vehicle’s camera just decided that it needed to be recalibrated, and there is not much that you can do about it.

Remember, you really won’t be able to go to your average mechanic here. If you have an issue with the BMW backup camera, then you have no choice but to head to your local BMW dealership.

They can fix the problem for you. Although, sadly, a recalibration may cost several hundred dollars. 

Is It Fine To Drive Your Vehicle With a BMW Backup Camera Malfunction?

People have driven for decades without a backup camera, so you should be fine. We think the most frustrating point is reversing without the camera, especially if you have already gotten used to having the backup camera in place. 

So yes, if you are careful when you are backing up in your vehicle, then it is 100% fine to drive with a BMW backup camera malfunction.

Although, we suggest you don’t. Not only are you going to be losing a major feature of your vehicle, but the warning is just going to get annoying. 

Final Thoughts 

A BMW backup camera malfunction is annoying, but it isn’t the end of the world. You can still drive your vehicle, and most problems can be rectified pretty easily.

If your camera says it is malfunctioning, then don’t rely on it to reverse.

You can’t trust the sensors. In rare cases, you may need to head to your local BMW dealership to get things recalibrated. 

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.

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