BMW Level Control System Failure Malfunction

The Level Control System Malfunction on a BMW comes on when there is a problem with the air suspension, and the vehicle can not raise or self-level.

DIY Cost: Free- $450
Est. Time: 20 min - 1 hr
Difficulty: Easy

This is a common problem on high mileage BMWs equipped with air springs or self-leveling such as BMW X5, E70, E66, E60, 530d, 525, and other models equipped with air suspension. 

The most common problem that causes level control system malfunction on a BMW is faulty rear height level sensor and bad air suspension springs. 

  • If the Level Control System Malfunction stays on all the time, the most likely cause is a problem with the level sensors.
  • If the warning disappears after the engine runs for a short time, the problem most likely is due to a leak in one of the air springs or air supply lines.  

Not all BMWs are equipped with air suspensions. Certain models such as early X5 or station wagons only have auto-leveling air suspension at the rear. 

Continuing to drive with Level Control System Malfunction is not recommended because it can cause uneven tire wear and poor handling. 

Symptoms

BMW level control system failure Common symptoms BMW owners may notice when the auto-leveling suspension fails: 

  • Yellow car with arrows icon on the dash
  • Hissing sound from air spring 
  • Compressor doesn't engage
  • Rear suspension sagging
  • Air compressor runs for a long time
  • Chassis Stabilization Malfunction!
  • Car ride is very rough
  • The rear is bottomed out
  • Message: Level control system failure 
  • Message: Level control - Ground clearance and driving comfort is reduced. Avoid high cornering speeds. Have the system checked by your BMW center as soon as possible. 
  • Message: Level control system malfunction. Service Due. 
  • Intermittent suspension warning while driving over uneven roads

Common Problems

List of the most common problems that cause Level Control System Failure Malfunction on a BMW. 

Self-leveling sensor/links

BMW Level Sensor

The self-leveling sensors are located on the wheel wells and monitor the ride height. The links can come loose, or the sensor itself can fail. This is a common problem on BMW X5, where the rear level links pop off from the ball joint.

If the link is not broken, you can push the link back on the ball joint. Once connected and the vehicle is lowered to the ground, you should hear the air suspension compressor engage and see the rear end raise. 

Replace the rear link at your soonest convenience. If you don't replace the link, it will come off again if ignored. 

The level sensor for the rear suspension is mounted at the rear suspension and takes about 30 minutes to replace. 

Footwell Module - FRM

BMW FOOTWELL MODULE FRM

A faulty footwell module (FRM) can fail to cause the Level Control System Malfunction warning to come on.

Call the closest BMW dealer and ask if the FRM module update is covered under a warranty or open recall. You will need to provide your BMW VIN. 

Suspension Air Bag

Faulty suspension airbag

A faulty suspension airbag (spring) can cause Level Control System Malfunction. The suspension air spring can crack and no longer hold the air, which causes the vehicle to drop to a critically low level. 

If you notice your BMW has dropped when parked but raises when you start the engine, you may have a bad air spring or leak in one of the air supply lines. Get your vehicle repaired as soon as possible to avoid burning the air compressor. When a leak is present, the air compressor has to work overtime to compensate for the air leak. 

If one of the air springs is bad, it is recommended (but not required) to replace both rear air springs simultaneously. 

Air Suspension Compressor

Level control system failure on BMW on due to bad bad air suspension compressor

The air sensation compressor can wear out and eventually not generate enough pressure or fail. The air compressor is in the back of the car, located under the floor.  Remove the trunk floor cover to get to it from inside the vehicle. 

Typically you will notice that the car drops in all four corners or on the back and won't raise. This typically is a symptom of a faulty air suspension compressor, even though a faulty fuse or relay can cause similar symptoms. 

Blown Fuse

Blown fuse bmw level sensor malfunction

A blown a fuse for the air compressor can cause Level Control System Failure Malfunction on a BMW.

Most BMWs have at least two fuse boxes, and you need to inspect the corresponding fuses, typically a 40A fuse. One fuse box is usually inside the vehicle, side of the dashboard. Another fuse box will be in the engine bay or the trunk area, depending on the model. 

Damaged Connector

Damaged connector

The wries to the rear level sensors can get corroded or damaged if the suspension is overextended. Remove the rear wheels and inspect both level sensors. 

Unplug the electrical connector from the level sensor and check the wires. Use a digital multimeter to check the continuity. 

Other possible problems

  • SLS Module - Level system control failure. The level module can get water inside and fail. The level control module gets input from various sensors and communicates with other modules via BUS. 
  • Active Roll Stabilization (ARS) system
  • Air supply line disconnected at the airbag
  • The owner deleted air suspension, installed coil-overs. 

Troubleshooting 

Diagnose BMW level sensor malfunction

Level Control System Failure Malfunction can be caused by several components, including rear level sensors, air supply lines leaking, or a faulty air compressor.

The only way to figure why you are getting a Level Control System Failure Malfunction warning is to connect a BMW scanner and read the fault codes from the air suspension (SLS) module.

Additional Resources

  1. BMW X5 Repair by Problem Area - TrueDelta.com
  2. BMW 7 Series Air Ride Diagnostics - KnowYourParts.com