Cruise control is one of the most awesome features of any vehicle. When that cruise control switch is flipped on, you get to cruise with the minimum amount of effort.
Sadly, just like any other component in your vehicle, the cruise control can fail. So, what happens if you are faced with a ‘cruise control malfunction’ on your BMW? Check the following:
1. Diagnosing The Problem
2. Blown Fuse
3. Battery Issues
4. Dirty Speed Sensor
5. Wiring Issues
6. Dirty or Damaged Throttle Control
Table of Contents
What is a BMW Cruise Control Malfunction?
A BMW cruise control malfunction occurs whenever there is an issue with the cruise control. Basically, if your BMW believes that your cruise control is unsafe to use, then it will flash up the cruise control malfunction error, hopefully encouraging you not to use the cruise control (please listen to that warning!).
Just about anything that impacts the cruise control could be throwing up an error including:
- Blown fuses
- Faulty speed sensors
- Brake issues
- Issues with your vehicle’s computer
- Damaged throttle control
- Battery or other electrical issues.
Thankfully, there are ways to tell what the issue is. We will talk about those a little bit later on. However, for now, we have to share a massive warning with you.
Can You Drive With a BMW Cruise Control Malfunction?
Your vehicle is still driveable, but make sure that you turn the cruise control off on your vehicle. Even if you suspect it is just a minor issue. Having cruise control turned on when it isn’t working properly could be dangerous.
Thankfully, in most cases, once that cruise control is turned off, the vehicle is going to drive perfectly fine. You only need to be concerned if other warnings start appearing on your vehicle’s dashboard.
Of course, we are sure that you don’t want to drive without cruise control for too long, so make an appointment with your local garage as soon as possible, or try and fix the problem yourself.
How To Fix a BMW Cruise Control Malfunction
Now, this is where things start to become tricky. Unfortunately, most BMW cruise control malfunctions can’t actually be solved by your average person.
This is because most of the time, the problem is going to be in a sensor, or in the internal computer. Things will need to get recalibrated.
There is also a major issue with some BMW models that can only be dealt with by a mechanic. Well, specifically, you will need to go to a dealership to have the problem dealt with. This is because an entire system is going to need to be swapped out.
We will teach you how to diagnose the issue, and we will tell you which problems can be fixed yourself. However, please don’t go poking around with your BMW cruise control unless you are 100% sure that you know what you are doing.
This is because the cruise control system needs to work.
If You Have a BMW F32
If you have a BMW F32, then there is no need to read on. We suggest that you go to a dealership immediately. There is a set of switches behind the steering wheel (known as the SDZ) which have been known to cause a cruise control malfunction.
A lot of BMW dealerships will swap it out if your vehicle is under warranty still.
This is a problem that may occur on other BMW models, but it seems as if the BMW F32 is the main sufferer of the issue. Of course, if you follow the advice below and you can’t fix the problem, then it is still worth heading to the dealership to have it checked out.
There is a good chance that any BMW could have issues with the SDZ.
Diagnosing The Problem
Your first job is to get to the bottom of why there is an issue with your cruise control. This is probably the most difficult job, since there are countless reasons why your BMW could be displaying a cruise control error, and some of these may not even be related to cruise control.
This is why we recommend that the vast majority of people go to their local BMW dealership. They will have the means to work out why the error is occurring.
If you want to diagnose things yourself, then pick up something called an OBD-2 scanner. This plugs into your vehicle’s computer. You will then get an error code. This error code (when cross-referenced with a chart produced by BMW) will tell you the exact issue.
An OBD-2 scanner can be picked up for around $50, but make sure that whatever scanner you get reads OEM codes.
Without a scanner, it is incredibly difficult to tell what the problem is. You are just blindly messing with settings, and you really don’t want to be doing that with your cruise control.
Like all electrical systems in your vehicle, there is a fuse tied to your cruise control system. If the fuse blows, then your cruise control system will stop working.
This is probably the most common cause of a cruise control malfunction in a BMW.
If the fuse has blown, then you will need to locate the fuse on your BMW model (refer to your vehicle’s manual for the location).
Pull the old one out, and then put a new one in. Remember, the fuse that you choose should be an exact match for the fuse that you are replacing.
The whole job can be completed in a matter of minutes, and you don’t need any technical expertise for it.
If replacing the fuse doesn’t work, then the problem may be down to the battery. As you can imagine, the cruise control system requires a huge amount of power.
If your battery is old (they only last about five years) then it may need replacing. If you have left your vehicle switched on without running the engine, then it may need to be recharged.
If you need to charge the battery, then the process is easy. You just need access to a car battery charger.
- Unclip the battery from your vehicle. The battery will be located under the hood.
- Plug the battery into your charger.
- Leave to charge overnight, or until the charger says your battery is fully charged.
- Replace the battery
Do bear in mind that because you have disconnected power from the system for a while, the ‘cruise control malfunction’ warning will disappear.
If it doesn’t return when you switch the cruise control back on, then you are good to go. If it does, then the battery probably wasn’t your issue.
Dirty Speed Sensor
In order for your cruise control to work, there are speed sensors dotted around your vehicle. The cruise control relies on these sensors to give a good readout of your speed.
If the vehicle’s computer senses that these sensors aren’t working properly, then you will get given a cruise control malfunction warning.
You will probably notice other issues when a speed sensor isn’t working properly. Namely the fact that your speedometer may give inconsistent speeds.
Now, you can replace the speed sensor yourself, but we don’t recommend it. It is expensive, and you need to get it right. So, that’s a job for the local dealership. You can clean the speed sensor, though.
The speed sensor (sometimes sensors) position can vary a little bit on your vehicle. As always, consult your vehicle’s manual to know exactly where the sensors are.
Most people find that spraying the speed sensor with a bit of compressed air can help. Do not use water to wipe the sensors clean. Just use compressed air to blow the dirt away.
Now we are starting to get into the issues where it may be worth consulting with a dealership, as these problems are going to require some mechanical knowledge.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of wires controlling the cruise control system. You have wires going into the computers, wires behind the steering wheel, etc.
If any of these wires get damaged, then you will have cruise control issues. If you know how to read the wiring diagrams in your vehicle’s manual, then you can check each of the wires that make up the system.
If you spot anything damaged, broken, etc. then you can replace them.
Dirty or Damaged Throttle Control
The throttle control is a component behind the gas pedal that tells how much to open the throttle by. The more you push it down, the wider the throttle becomes, allowing you to speed up.
If the throttle control gets dirty or damaged, then the cruise control system may not work properly.
This is not something that you can do yourself, sadly. However, you can work out whether this is the issue by looking for the following when you are driving:
- The vehicle speed doesn’t seem to be changing no matter how much you press the gas pedal.
- You may notice a bit of resistance when you press the gas pedal.
- If you have pushed the gas pedal too hard at one point, then the throttle control may have broken.
Issues Requiring a Mechanic
For anything else, we suggest that you head to a BMW dealership. This is because there may be issues with your vehicle’s computer, the braking system, etc.
None of which you should be dealing with unless you have the actual mechanical knowledge to do so. It would be dangerous to play about with the braking system, for instance.
A BMW cruise control malfunction isn’t a huge issue if you keep your vehicle’s cruise control switched off. However, a malfunction while using cruise control can be dangerous.
Some problems should be easy to fix, but most will involve a trip to your local BMW dealership. This is because there may be a problem with the computer inside your vehicle, and this is not something you can fix without the right software to hand.