A BMW vehicle may display Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately error message on the dashboard when there is an engine or transmission problem.
This message often appears under heavy acceleration, going up on a steep incline, taking off from a stop sign, or when trying to pass another car. Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately can also come up during cold weather or even under normal driving conditions.
In this guide, you will learn more about this subject and how to diagnose the problem with a BMW scanner.
What does drivetrain malfunction mean?
BMW Drivetrain Malfunction error message means that the engine control module (also known as DDE ECU ECM or DME) has detected an engine or transmission issue.
The maximum torque output is limited by the ECU to prevent damage.
To diagnose the problem you can use a BMW scanner which will allow you to read the fault codes from the Digital Motor Electronics (DME) module and transmission (EGS) module.
While the symptoms can vary depending on the problem that caused the error, here are what most BMW owners usually notice:
- Drivetrain malfunction error message on the iDrive screen
- Car starts to shake
- Check engine light comes on
- Vehicle cuts off / dies when idling or placed in gear (D)
- Smoke out of the exhaust
- Vehicle idles rough
- Transmission stuck in gear
- Drivetrain malfunction while trying to pass on the highway
- Drivetrain malfunction and the car won't start
In most cases, your BMW will lose power, the engine may shake or die and transmission can go in the limp home mode (no longer changes gears).
What should I do?
- Find a safe place to park your BMW.
- Turn off the ignition and remove the key.
- Wait for at least 5 minutes then restart the car.
In many cases, this will temporarily reset BMW drivetrain malfunction and allow you to continue your journey.
If restarting the engine didn't fix Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately park the vehicle in a safe location and turn off the engine again.
Pull the hood release under the dashboard and inspect the engine for leaks and unusual smells which can indicate a damaged serpentine belt, oil leak or coolant leak.
- Check the engine oil level.
- Monitor engine temperature.
- Do not keep the engine running if it overheats or oil light is on.
Read Codes with a BMW Scanner
Codes stored in the DME will tell you why the Drivetrain Malfunction error was triggered.
For this step, you will need a BMW Scanner. Generic OBD2 scanners won't be much help, as they can't read manufacturer fault codes.
- Locate diagnostic port under the dashboard.
- Plugin your scanner.
- Turn on the ignition but don't start the engine.
- Turn on the scanner and select your BMW model.
- Read codes from the engine (DME) and transmission (EGS) module.
If the engine is shaking and there is reduced power or vehicle is in limp mode, it is not recommended to drive. Call your dealer or mechanic. Do not ignore a drivetrain malfunction warning.
Get the BMW serviced as soon as possible. Even if the drivetrain error disappears, you should have your BMW diagnosed as there is a very high chance the problem will return.
BMW drivetrain malfunction is often caused by an engine misfire.
Most likely your issue will be due to one of the issues below. We strongly recommend getting your BMW diagnosed by a mechanic or at a minimum read the fault codes yourself before you start replacing any parts.
Worn spark plugs are often the cause of drivetrain malfunction on BMW vehicles. When you change the spark plugs, replace all of them at the same time.
A failed ignition coil can cause engine misfire and BMW error message drivetrain malfunction on iDrive.
If you are getting a cylinder misfire for one particular cylinder, there is a chance that the ignition coil to that cylinder is defective. Let's say you get cylinder 1 misfire.
Swap the ignition coils for cylinder 1 and cylinder 2. Clean the codes with an OBD-II scanner. Run the car until the check engine light comes back on. If the code is posting to cylinder 2 misfire (P0302), it indicates you have a bad ignition coil.
High-Pressure Fuel Pump
BMW drivetrain malfunction can be caused by a fuel pump that is not generating the required fuel pressure. Especially if the error message is coming up when you are accelerating.
The fuel pump may fail to create enough pressure especially when there is a high demand from the engine.
BMW drivetrain malfunction error message can also be caused by a clogged catalytic converter.
This is more likely to happen in high mileage vehicles where the catalytic converter starts to clog and restricts the exhaust gases.
Low Quality Fuel or Octane Rating
This problem can be caused if you recently filled up the car with low octane gasoline. Make sure to use premium gas on your BMW, 93 or higher octane.
If you accidentally used low octane, consider adding Octane Booster to the fuel tank to bring up the octane level of the gasoline that is in the tank.
One or more damaged fuel injectors can cause BMW to drive moderately reduced power.
If your mechanic determines that the fuel injectors are the problem, it is recommended (but not required) to replace all of them at the same time.
Other possible causes of BMW drivetrain malfunction include blown head gasket, mass airflow sensor, turbo issue, fuel injectors.
While it is impossible to know what caused BMW drivetrain malfunction in your car without reading the codes, in most cases, this error is due to an engine misfire.
Drivetrain malfunction on cold weather
If you are getting drivetrain malfunction when you first start your BMW in the morning, there is a good chance that you:
- Have a battery that is old
- Have spark plugs that weren't changed at the recommended interval
- Have too many electronics plugged into the auxiliary outlet
Drivetrain malfunction comes up when accelerating
If you are trying to pass another car in the highway and while you are accelerating get Drivetrain Malfunction message, chances are that you:
- Have a bad high-pressure fuel pump
- Clogged fuel filter
- Damaged or dirty fuel injector.
Drivetrain malfunction came on after an oil change
If you get BMW drivetrain malfunction after you change the engine oil, there is a very good chance that:
- A sensor got unplugged by accident
- You spilled oil on the engine
iDrive Drivetrain Malfunction Error Messages
This is a list of possible error messages that you may get. The exact wording of the message can vary between models.
- Drivetrain Malfunction...drive slowly
- Drivetrain malfunction maximum output not available
- Drive moderately. Maximum drivetrain output not available. Consult service center.
- Drivetrain malfunction drive moderately
- Full performance not available - Have the problem checked by service - Error message
- Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately Maximum Drivetrain Output not available
- Drivetrain Continue the journey at a moderate speed. Full performance not available. Have the problem checked by service.
- Drive Modertaley Maximum drivetrain output not available. Consult service center.