Powertrain Malfunction For BMW (Causes, Symptoms, Solutions)

powertrain malfunction bmw

When you’re driving your beloved BMW, the last thing you want is to encounter a drivetrain malfunction. This error message can be alarming, but understanding what it means and how to fix it is crucial.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and solutions for BMW drivetrain malfunctions.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to handle this issue and get your BMW back on the road.

Section 1: Understanding Drivetrain Malfunction

What is a Drivetrain Malfunction?

The drivetrain in your BMW is a crucial system that includes various components such as the engine, transmission, driveshaft, and axles.

When any of these components experience a malfunction, it can trigger a drivetrain malfunction error code.

This error message is a result of your car’s onboard computer system detecting a problem within the powertrain.

The Importance of the Drivetrain

The drivetrain is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels, enabling your BMW to move. It plays a vital role in the overall performance and functionality of your vehicle.

A malfunction in the drivetrain can significantly impact your driving experience and may lead to further damage if not addressed promptly.

Read also >> BMW Transmission Malfunction: Causes & Warning (Fixed!)

Section 2: Common Causes of BMW Drivetrain Malfunction

Damaged Fuel Injectors

One of the common causes of a BMW drivetrain malfunction is damaged fuel injectors. Fuel injectors are responsible for injecting fuel into the combustion chamber, ensuring proper combustion.

When fuel injectors are damaged, they can result in a lack of fuel supply, leading to engine misfires and drivetrain malfunctions.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Another potential cause of a drivetrain malfunction is faulty spark plugs. Spark plugs play a crucial role in igniting the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber.

If the spark plugs are worn out or malfunctioning, it can lead to incomplete combustion, engine misfires, and drivetrain issues.

High-Pressure/Faulty Fuel Pump

A faulty or high-pressure fuel pump can also contribute to a drivetrain malfunction in a BMW. The fuel pump is responsible for supplying fuel from the tank to the engine at the required pressure.

If the fuel pump fails or operates at high pressure, it can result in inconsistent fuel supply and power surges or cuts.

Faulty Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is responsible for generating the high voltage needed to create a spark in the spark plugs. A faulty ignition coil can cause weak or irregular sparks, leading to engine misfires and drivetrain malfunctions.

Clogged Catalytic Converter

A clogged catalytic converter can restrict the flow of exhaust gases, causing a buildup of pressure in the combustion chamber.

This increased pressure can result in drivetrain malfunctions and other engine-related issues.

Low-Quality Fuel

Using low-quality or contaminated fuel can also contribute to drivetrain malfunctions. Poor-quality fuel may contain impurities or inadequate octane levels, leading to engine performance issues and drivetrain malfunctions.

Section 3: Symptoms of a Drivetrain Malfunction

Drivetrain Malfunction Error Message

One of the most obvious symptoms of a drivetrain malfunction is the appearance of an error message on the dashboard.

This error message typically states “Drivetrain Malfunction: Drive moderately. Maximum drivetrain output not available. Consult service center.”

Shaking or Vibration

You may experience intense shaking or vibration while driving your BMW when a drivetrain malfunction occurs. This can be felt throughout the vehicle and indicates an underlying issue with the drivetrain components.

Engine Warning Light

In addition to the drivetrain malfunction error message, you may also notice the engine warning light illuminated on the dashboard.

This light indicates a problem with the engine and is often accompanied by drivetrain malfunctions.

Reduced Engine Power

A drivetrain malfunction can result in a significant reduction in engine power. You may notice that your BMW struggles to accelerate or lacks its usual performance capabilities.

Rough Idle

If you experience a rough idle, where the engine feels unstable or shakes while the vehicle is stationary, it can be a sign of a drivetrain malfunction.

Transmission Stuck in One Gear

A drivetrain malfunction can cause the transmission to become stuck in one gear, preventing smooth gear shifts and affecting overall vehicle performance.

Car Will Not Restart

In some cases, a drivetrain malfunction may prevent your BMW from restarting after it has been turned off. This can be a sign of a more severe issue and should be addressed immediately.

Smoke from the Exhaust

Excessive smoke coming from the exhaust can be an indication of a drivetrain malfunction. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as reduced engine power or rough idling.

Section 4: Dealing with a Drivetrain Malfunction

Restarting the Engine

If you encounter a drivetrain malfunction error message while driving, the first step is to safely pull over and turn off the engine.

Allow the car to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to reset the error code temporarily. After this time, restart the engine and drive home or to a BMW service center.

Seeking Professional Assistance

While restarting the engine may temporarily clear the error message, it is essential to have your BMW inspected by a qualified technician.

A professional diagnosis is crucial to identify the underlying cause of the drivetrain malfunction and ensure proper repairs are carried out.

Diagnostic Scanning

To accurately diagnose the cause of a drivetrain malfunction, a diagnostic scan using an OBD II scanner is recommended.

This scan will retrieve specific fault codes from the car’s computer system, providing valuable information about the issue. A BMW-specific OBD II scanner is ideal for accurate diagnosis.

Repairing the Drivetrain Malfunction

The cost of repairing a drivetrain malfunction can vary depending on the specific cause and extent of the issue. It is best to consult with a BMW service center or mechanic to obtain an accurate estimate for the necessary repairs.

Preventive Measures

To minimize the risk of drivetrain malfunctions, regular maintenance and servicing are essential. This includes checking fluid levels, replacing worn-out parts, and addressing any warning signs promptly.

Using high-quality fuel and following BMW’s recommended maintenance schedule can help prevent drivetrain issues.


A drivetrain malfunction in your BMW can be a cause for concern, but understanding its causes, symptoms, and solutions can help you navigate through this issue.

By taking prompt action and seeking professional assistance, you can ensure the drivetrain malfunction is diagnosed and repaired correctly. Regular maintenance and preventive measures will also help minimize the risk of future drivetrain malfunctions.

Remember, your BMW’s performance and reliability depend on a well-functioning drivetrain, so addressing any issues promptly is crucial for a smooth driving experience.

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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