BMW Restraint System Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix

BMW Restraint System Malfunction

Most problems that appear in a vehicle are fairly self-explanatory. One issue that seems to stump many BMW owners, however, is the BMW restraint system malfunction.

They aren’t quite sure what it means, nor whether they should be driving their vehicle when it is malfunctioning. On this page, we are going to help you to fix that problem. 

What Is The BMW Restraint System?

Do you know what many people find the most surprising about the BMW restraint system malfunction? Well, it is the fact that they don’t actually know what the restraint system does.

Why? Well, the only time you really have a need to know what the restraint system does is a situation that you hope never to find yourself in!

The job of the BMW restraint system is to help to cushion some of the impact should you crash. A lot of this may involve tightening up the seatbelts automatically.

This way, a passenger won’t find themselves hurtling forward, which can cause severe injury or death. The system may also have an impact on the way that the airbags work.

BMW restraint systems are fairly new in their vehicles, but they are a system that you will be glad is there.

What Is a BMW Restraint System Malfunction?

The BMW restraint system malfunction can happen for a multitude of different reasons. In most cases, it will be down to one of the following issues:

  • Low battery power
  • Broken or damaged passenger occupancy sensors.

However, absolutely anything that could impact the way that the vehicle deals with impacts could be the problem.

For example, there may be a fault in the vehicle’s computer software, there could be a problem with the brakes, or there may even be a problem with potential airbag deployment.

Thankfully, there are ways to work out what the fault actually is. The easiest method is to head to your local BMW dealership. However, if you want to save a bit of money, then you can purchase a diagnostic tool known as an OBD-2 scanner.

This useful scanner plugs directly into your vehicle’s computer. When used, it will show any error codes that have been logged in the vehicle. You can then look these codes up online and work out what the problem is.

Whether you can fix the problem yourself is a whole other story. However, in our experience, most issues can be fixed. 

Read also >> BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix

Read also >> BMW Low Beam Malfunction: Here Is How To Fix

Can You Drive With a BMW Restraint System Malfunction?

Vehicles have existed for decades without having restraint systems in them. However, you have to remember that the BMW restraint system exists for a reason.

Before we had restraint systems and safety features on vehicles, the number of serious injuries and deaths in car accidents was incredibly high. It is systems like the BMW restraint system that have helped to save countless lives.

Therefore, while you can probably drive with a BMW restraint system malfunction, it is a problem that you will probably want to get fixed sooner rather than later.

Your vehicle is considerably less safe when you have a problem with one of the main safety features in your vehicle, after all. 

How To Fix a BMW Restraint System Malfunction

There are a few common issues with the BMW restraint system. While some of them can be fixed yourself, many of the issues will require a trip to a dealership or mechanic.

This is because some of the issues are related to problems with the onboard computer, sensor configuration, etc. This is the type of stuff that you can’t deal with yourself. Sadly, this is a major issue with modern vehicles.

While they are becoming safer and more technically advanced, fixing issues on your own is almost impossible. We probably wouldn’t want to go back to the old ways of doing things, though!

How Do You Turn Off a BMW Restraint System Malfunction?

The only way to turn off the BMW restraint system malfunction is to fix the problem. It should then clear itself.

While there are ways to stop the issue from appearing temporarily e.g. removing the battery for 15 minutes and then reconnecting it, none of these methods are long-term solutions. 

Sporadic BMW Restraint System Malfunction Warnings 

If you have sporadic BMW restraint system malfunction warnings, then you can probably ignore the problem. It is only a major issue if the restraint system malfunction is coming on all of the time.

Although, if you are driving in the vehicle and the warning comes up, we suggest that everybody ensures that their seatbelts are tightened.

Sporadic BMW restraint system malfunction warnings normally happen if the sensors incorrectly detect weight in certain parts of the vehicle, or if a seatbelt isn’t snapped shut properly. Sometimes, the errors just occur for no real discernable reason. 

We promise you that if the system only occurs once in a blue moon, then you really do not have anything to worry about. 

Weight On a Seat

Sometimes, the BMW restraint system can get a bit confused.

The BMW restraint system has a variety of sensors on each of the seats in your vehicle. This way, the system will know which seats have occupants.

This way, the system can trigger the right seatbelts in the event of an accident.

If you place something weighty on a seat, then you may get a BMW restraint system malfunction. This is because the system believes there is somebody seated in the seat when there really isn’t.

This is going to be one of those issues that will only ever happen when something weighty is placed on the seat.

So, if you are carrying around cargo that isn’t a person, then it will only happen at that time. You only need to be concerned if the system is flashing up warnings when the seat is empty.

Of course, if the malfunction is annoying you, then you can always clip the seatbelts in, even if nobody actually has that seatbelt around them.

It should fix the malfunction. Well, it would be a temporary fix, but sometimes you just want to get rid of that annoying warning.

Low Battery 

The BMW restraint system requires a lot of power to work. If you have low battery power, then it may start to cause a variety of electrical issues in your vehicle. You should replace your battery if it is over 5 years old.

If you have recently switched your vehicle on for lengthy periods of time without running the engine, then your battery could have drained too (some people do this to run their radio, heating, air conditioning, etc.).

If you need to recharge your battery, then you will need a battery charger. These aren’t too tough to get hold of. You then need to do the following:

  1. Unclip the battery
  2. Plug the battery into your battery charger.
  3. Wait until the battery is charged.
  4. Put the battery back inside the vehicle.

It is worth noting that even if the issue is not caused by battery issues, the malfunction warning will disappear for a short period of time.

This is because the computer ‘resets’ itself when the power is disconnected. If the problem isn’t fixed, then the warning will come back pretty quickly.  

Damaged or Wet Sensors Underneath the Passenger Seat

Each seat in your vehicle has sensors under it. The job of these sensors is to work out when somebody is seated in a particular chair. If these sensors fail, then you will get a BMW restraint system malfunction.

One of the most common reasons why these sensors have issues is that they get wet. We have heard horror stories of people leaving their sunroof open accidentally, only to have a ton of rain fall into their vehicles. Others have had wet and muddy people climb into their vehicles, creating wet sensors.

If you believe that the passenger seat weight detection sensors are wet, then you can dry them out. The best way to do this is with some fans, perhaps in a garage. A lot of people find that they fix the problem within a few hours.

If you believe that the sensors are permanently damaged, then you can remove and replace them. However, this is not something that we would suggest that you do yourself.

This is because there is no way for the average person to know which seat is causing the issue. You really don’t want to replace all of the sensors. They cost several hundred dollars each.

Electrical Issues

There could always be a wiring issue in your vehicle. If you pull out your vehicle’s manual, there will be a wiring diagram. You will want to check the wires in the following places:

  • Any wires that lead from the seats to the vehicle’s computer.
  • Any wires going into the vehicle’s computer.
  • Any wires that are linked to the airbag system.

If you notice any of the wires are damaged, then replace them. 90% of the time, they will unclip from their housing, and an equivalent wire can be put into place.

In older vehicles, you may have to solder a new wire into place. Both of these are jobs that you can do yourself. 

When To Take Your Vehicle To a Professional 

If you have followed the previous methods and your vehicle is still displaying a BMW restraint system malfunction, then head to a BMW dealership.

There is a chance that there is a problem with your vehicle’s computer. This is not a problem that you can fix yourself.

How to reset BMW restraint system >> Check out the video below:

Final Thoughts

The BMW restraint system is an incredibly important system for the safety of passengers. A BMW restraint system malfunction can be caused by anything from an unexpected weight on a seat to faulty sensors.

Most are issues that you can easily fix yourself, and you don’t even need mechanical knowledge. You just need to know how to read your vehicle’s manual so you know where all the relevant systems in your vehicle are located. 


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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