BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix

BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction

While we hope you will never have to use it, the BMW emergency call system is a fantastic feature. One hit of that button and the BMW team will be informed that your vehicle has had an issue.

They can send emergency teams to you, roadside assistance, etc. Basically, it can help you in an emergency.

Here are a few steps you need to take if you have a BMW emergency call system malfunction:

1.     Faulty Backup Battery

2.     Faulty Main Battery

3.     Wiring Issues With Microphones or Speakers

4.     Water Managed To Get Into the Shark Fin

5.     Bluetooth Issues

What is a BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction?

When you have a BMW emergency call system malfunction, it means that there is a problem with the BMW call system.

This could be a power issue, it could be a computer issue, or it could be a wiring issue. Unfortunately, the system is not all that descriptive about what is happening. All you really know is that the system probably isn’t working as it should be.

Thankfully, this is one of the easier problems to fix with a BMW, although we will come to that shortly. This means that you have no excuse not to be fixing the problem! 

How to Fix a BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction

There are a few ways that you can fix your BMW emergency call system. We won’t lie and tell you every problem can be fixed yourself. It can’t. Sometimes, there are going to be issues with the vehicle’s computer.

This means that you have little choice but to head to a BMW dealership to fix the problem. However, we will go through the main fixes i.e. the ones that many other BMW owners have found fix their emergency call system woes.

Faulty Backup Battery

The BMW emergency call system relies on the backup battery. As with a standard battery in your vehicle, the backup battery can only last for about 5 years. So, once the battery is dead, you are going to start to run into issues.

Thankfully, replacing the backup battery isn’t all that difficult. It is going to be slightly harder than your average battery, but one that you can easily do at home.

You will need to pull out your vehicle’s manual to know exactly where the backup battery is on your particular BMW model. It is likely to be somewhere on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

You just need to pull the old one out and clip the new one in.

You may find that replacing the backup battery can fix a multitude of problems with your vehicle.

This is because the BMW emergency call system is not the only thing that relies on the backup battery working.

All of the telematics systems in your vehicle will rely on it (and the telematics directly instruct the emergency call system). 

Faulty Main Battery

If replacing the backup battery doesn’t work, then you can check the main battery. This battery is also designed to last only five years, so you will need to replace it if it is any older than that.

If the battery is under five years old, then you just need to charge it. Unclip the battery and charge overnight on a battery charger.

If the battery keeps discharging itself, even once you have charged it, then it may be worth calling an expert.

This is because the main batteries should be charging themselves while the engine is running. If they are not, then it indicates a much deeper problem with the vehicle and one that you may not be able to fix yourself.

Wiring Issues With Microphones or Speakers

Your BMW emergency call system requires microphones and speakers to work. it is not uncommon for people doing work in the area around the microphones and speakers to accidentally knock a cable loose. It happens.

The problem should be easy to fix:

  1. Look at your vehicle’s manual to see where the microphones and speakers are located.
  2. Remove the housing around the microphone and speakers.
  3. Inspect for any damage to the wires or loose cables.
  4. Fix how you see fit. For example, loose cables can be slotted into place, damaged wires can be replaced.

In rare cases, the microphone or speakers may be damaged. You can also replace these. However, without an OBD-2 scanner telling you that the microphone or speakers are the issues, we wouldn’t recommend it. They are costly and difficult components to replace. 

Water Managed To Get Into the Shark Fin

On top of your vehicle, you have something known as the shark fin.

This hosts all of the antenna tech needed to run your radio, as well as the tech that your vehicle needs to send out those radio call systems to the BMW emergency call system team.

You will know what the shark fin is as it quite literally looks like a shark fin.

Over time, there is a chance that the seal around the bottom can wear down. When this happens, dirt and grime can get into the shark fin.

This can stop the antenna tech from functioning properly. If you have started to notice issues with your vehicle’s radio in addition to the emergency call system malfunction, then this could be the problem.

Unfortunately, removing the shark fin isn’t really something that you can do yourself without damaging the top of the vehicle. A lot of BMW owners have attempted to do so and have dented the top of their vehicles.

So, if you notice that there are gaps around the bottom of the shark fin, then it is important that you head to a BMW dealership. Let them fix the problem. It is going to save you a lot of issues. 

Bluetooth Issues

Some people have found that a Bluetooth pairing issue seems to be the problem. If you have any devices connected to your Bluetooth in your vehicle e.g. phones, GPS, etc. then disconnect them.

After that, disconnect the vehicle’s main battery for thirty minutes (remove the negative jumper cable from the terminal)

When you turn the vehicle back on, the problem should have cleared up.

Other Issues

Unfortunately, these are the only issues that you really have a chance of fixing yourself.

This is because the BMW emergency call system is run by a complex network of computers, sensors, etc. Any one of them could be at fault.

Sometimes, the system just needs to be recalibrated. If you take it to your local BMW dealership (not your standard mechanic), then they should be able to fix the problem for you. 

Can You Drive With a BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction?

You can. If the system is malfunctioning, it doesn’t mean your vehicle cannot be driven. It means that you may not be able to use the BMW emergency call system, but for most people, this isn’t really an issue.

Sure, it is useful if you do have an emergency at the side of the road, but it is just more convenient than anything. You are one button away from calling help rather than making a phone call.

Although, the BMW emergency call system does have a very important feature. This is crash detection. If the vehicle detects a crash, then the signal will be sent automatically. There is no need for you to interact with anything.

This type of feature could potentially save your life, so it is useful if it works. Although, we hope that you are never going to be put in a position where you need to rely on this part of this system working. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore the problem. A lot of people have made that mistake. If there is an issue with your BMW emergency call system, it won’t be long before you start to deal with other issues in your vehicle.

So, the sooner you fix the problem, the cheaper things will be. As we said a bit earlier on; most of these fixes are incredibly affordable. 

Read also >> BMW DBC Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix (Step by Step Guide)

Read also >> BMW DSC Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix (Step by Step Guide)

How Do You Clear a BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction?

Many BMW owners find that the system clears automatically. The BMW emergency call system is just a temporary problem, likely due to a small software glitch. It happens.

If the problem fixes itself, then the error is going to disappear. You only really need to be concerned if the error is constantly there.

If the error is constantly there, then the only way to fix the problem is to fix the BMW emergency call system malfunction. There is no other way to clear the problem long-term. Of course, if you unplug the battery for a short period of time and then plug it back in, there is a good chance that the error will clear itself for a couple of days. But, it will come back if there is an issue with the BMW emergency call system. 

How Do You Diagnose a BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction?

As with all vehicles, the easiest way to diagnose any issue with the BMW emergency call system is to use an OBD-2 scanner. This is a device that plugs directly into your vehicle’s computer.

This device will allow you to read any error codes and then compare them against a list of error codes provided by BMW. An OBD-2 scanner is the exact device that a mechanic would use, so you will be saving a lot of money diagnosing the problem yourself.

An OBD-2 scanner can be picked up for as little as $50.

Other than this, the only other method is a bit of trial and error, although this isn’t really recommended as there is a lot that can potentially go wrong with the BMW emergency call system, and a lot of it isn’t going to be immediately obvious. 

BMW Emergency Call System Not Available – Sorted >> Check out the video below:


Most BMW emergency call system malfunction issues are caused by a drained battery, whether it is the backup battery or the main battery in your vehicle. In other cases, the shark fin on the top of your vehicle may have leaked.

The battery issues can be solved from home, but if there is a leak in your shark fin, then you need to take the vehicle to a BMW dealership or you run the risk of damaging your vehicle’s bodywork. 

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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