BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power Problem warning is a common problem that effects BMW models including 335i, 535i, 745i, X1, X3, X5.

In this guide, you will learn about common problems that cause BMW engine malfunction and how to diagnose the problem yourself.

BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power message comes on when the engine computer (DME module) in your car detects a problem.

When the BMW engine malfunction message pops up on your iDrive the check engine light (service engine soon) may also come on. The color of the check engine light can help you get an idea of how serious the problem is.

Symptoms

BMW Engine Malfunction message is shown on the iDrive screen, BMW owners may notice the following symptoms:

  • Reduced Engine Power
  • Increased emissions
  • Reduced Output
  • Transmission in limp home mode ( in some cases)
  • Drivetrain malfunction and engine light
  • Reduced engine message coming up during acceleration

Common Problems

This is a list of common problems that trigger BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power message.

To find out why you are getting this warning start by reading the fault codes by connecting a BMW scanner to the OBD-II port under the dashboard on the driver's side. 

Valvetronic

Most BMW engines are equipped with Valvetronic. It variates the amount of intake valve lift, eliminating the need for a throttle plate.

Although this is a quite complex system, it is quite durable. If it fails, you might have poor throttle response and a lack of power. Usual failure points are an electric motor and an eccentric shaft position sensor.

Codes: 2A61, 2A63, 2A67, 2A6F, 2A70

Vanos

bmw engine malfunction reduced power x6 due to vanos

Vanos is operated by oil-powered actuators. It is a very simple and robust system. In most cases, it will fail if there is an oil sludge buildup within the Vanos solenoids.

This is a result of too long oil change intervals. Luckily, faulty Vanos solenoids are an easy and cheap thing to fix. In addition to the "BMW engine malfunction reduced power" message you will also notice engine noise such as tapping or knocking noises (VANOS area).

Usually after starting a cold engine or at idle for the first few seconds.

Codes: 2A82, 2A87

Oxygen Sensor

BMW oxygen sensor engine malfunction sign

BMW engine control uses readings from upstream O2 sensors to achieve optimal engine performance. Upstream O2 sensors can get fouled by excessive fuel or oil consumption.

Furthermore, a damaged wiring or a loose connector is also possible. Whatever the reason, it will affect the engine performance, and you will get a yellow 1/2 'check engine' light.

Codes: 2C9C, 2C9C or P0171 to P0174

 

Ignition Coils

bmw engine malfunction yellow light due to loose ignition coil

Ignition coils can fail for a number of reasons. It will result in a misfire, causing the engine to shake and judder under acceleration.

Misfire is very damaging to your catalytic converter, so don't drive your BMW with a misfire. Ignition coils are easy to replace, so it's a good idea to have one spare ignition coil.

A loose connector to the ignition coil can cause BMW engine malfunction yellow light to come on.

Codes: P0300 to P0306

 

Timing Chain

bmw engine malfunction reduced power 535i

Timing chain-related problems can trigger a 'check engine' light. Although timing chains are supposed to be a life-long item, they can get exclusively stretched with time.

Tensioner or plastic guides can fail, too. Timing that has jumped two or three teeth will cause engine rattle, a yellow 1/2 'check engine' light, and Vanos related codes.

Red 1/2 'check engine' light will indicate a bigger timing jump.

In either case, turn off the engine immediately and do not restart it.

 

Battery

bmw engine malfunction reduced power m3

A weak battery can cause BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power message on the iDrive screen. BMW vehicles are very sensitive to the voltage and if the battery is old, it may hold a proper charge.

If your battery is over 7 years old it is time to change it to avoid other electrical issues. A bad alternator regulator can cause similar symptoms as well.

 

High-Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP)

High-Pressure Fuel Pump

Newer BMW vehicles, starting from E90 335i, have engines with high-pressure fuel injection.

This is a delicate system that can be damaged by low-quality fuel. High-pressure fuel pump and injectors are the usual failure points.

Symptoms include engine hard starting with long cranking, rough idle, and a yellow 1/2 'check engine' light. In most cases, power output and acceleration are heavily affected. You must check and replace the faulty pump or injectors as soon as possible.

Codes: 2FBA, 2FBF, 29DC, 29E2

Turbo

bmw turbo triggers engine malfunction warning

If you have a turbocharged BMW that feels down and power and sluggish on acceleration, it is highly possible that you have a boost leak.

This can be caused by something as simple as a broken vacuum line. Boost solenoids that operate the turbochargers can fail. You should also check the charge piping that connects the turbo with intercooler and intake manifold.

These are rubber hoses that can break or simply slip off. Lastly, a stuck open wastegate or a leaking blow-off valve will also cause low boost issues.

Codes: 30FF for a boost leak

How to diagnose BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power

 

To diagnose BMW Engine Malfunction you will need a BMW Scanner that is able to read manufacturer specific fault codes.

Pay attention to fault codes from the DME module and also perform a full system scan.

Frequently Asked Questions

My BMW has a big yellow check light and says 'Engine fault! Reduced power'. What should I do?

If you have this warning, it means there is a serious problem with your engine. It is still OK to drive to your destination, but you should adjust your driving style to 'moderate'. A good idea is to pull over at a safe place and take a look under the hood. Fix the problem as soon as possible. This message can come upon an E60 E70 E90 E92 E65 F10 etc.

What does 'drive moderately' really mean?

As the engine is not operating perfectly, you should not put it under a hard load. Avoid harsh accelerations and high engine speeds. Drive gently. Additionally, pay attention to any signs of abnormal operation. Unusual exhaust smoke, engine judder, or high engine temperatures are causes for concern.

My BMW has a 'check engine' light, but I can't read any fault codes?

Some OBD2 readers are capable of reading only the mandatory powertrain codes (Pxxxx). As BMW is more complex than most cars, it has many manufacturer specific codes. For a good engine insight, you will need a scan tool capable of reading this kind of code.

 

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

I had similar experience a few days ago in my 2013 X5 Xdrive 35d in Bakersfield , California under 100 F. Several problems identified by dealer- 1) low pressure ERG valve faulty, 2) camshaft sensor not reading correctly, 3) glow plug in one of the engine cylinder not functioning properly. Spent a fortune on both parts and labor.

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Hi, I have 2009 BMW 535i, I just bought it recently, after a week I got 1/2 yellow light check engine with a message on the IDrive say(engine malfunction, power reduced). any advices what the problem might be? note the light goes away after turn off the engine and restarted, but comes on back again after I drive it and exactly when I accelerate. Thanks,

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

I have 2010 BMW problem is engine manfulcition all the starting car smoke to much and run 25 miles for aurs no power very slow running l don't know

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

I have a 2011 BMW x5 35d Diesel motor is shaking a lot. Mechanic says those power issues can be glow plugs or injectors it's also idling low.

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Hi, I got the half engine symbol today with the mentioned message ( power reduced), the message disappeared when I stopped for 1 hour at a shop and restart the journey again.

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Hi it's sounds like your catalytic converter are block you need to check it with experienced Bmw technician

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Check your catalytic converter

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Thanks for this page. Had the 1/2 engine light today and engine felt like it was misfiring. Replaced battery and reset codes all fixed running beautifully. Cheers

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Did u find the problem got the same problem

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Need some help. Dealer scan and doesn´t really know why it happens. Got X5 xdrive premium 3.0TD, 2011. It gives an engine fault, a yellowish message with half an engine drawing, then it says: full engine power no longer available. Possible to continue journey. Drive moderately. Have the problem checked by the nearest BMW dealer. Problem is, the dealer can´t figure out what the problem is. It got worse when we took it to the beach, here in Costa Rica, the temperatures were at 96F, and that worsen the problem. What it happens is that when I step on it an the revs reach around 3000rpm, it trouble shoots and you can feel the engine actually looses power. When slowing down, then the message disappears and the car keeps running, apparently normally. Except when I tried again to accelerate, it happened again. Does someone knows what the problem might be? thanks.

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

How much did you spend?

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

I have a 2008 BMW X6 5.0 or 4.4 V8 twin turbo engine, engine malfunction reduced power keep popping up, than I change all fuel injectors it was running perfectly for 1000km and now the problem is back again, car only did 78k km so far, really frustrating please help

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Visitor
Member since 2020-07

Hi there, I have exactly the same problem that you mentioned above. Hope you find the solution of it . Can you advice please. Thanks

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Obbie Wilkerson
Member since 2020-07

I bought a 2011 x5 xdrive 5.0 and the half yellow warning light came on also the engine acted like it wanted to stall but managed to regain power but light stays on, tried to do a factory reset and the light stayed on, so I'm very curious to know if it's a major or minor problem to fix.

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