BMW Increased Battery Discharge

Vehicle:   BMW
Difficulty: ⚫⚫⚪⚪⚪
DIY Cost:
Est. Time: 30 min - 2 hr

Increased battery discharge message on a BMW comes up to warn the driver that the car battery is getting discharged too quickly.

Remove phone charger from the cigarette outlet, turn off unnecessary accessories such as seat heaters, sound system, defrost and keep the engine running until the message disappears.

It may take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for the battery to charge and the message to reset. 

BMW Increased Battery Discharge when stationary

This warning typically comes up when you first start your BMW in the morning, especially during freezing weather, but you may also get BMW increased battery discharge when stopped at a red light.

If you see this error message on your dashboard, some electronic consumers (such as heated seats, power features, blower fan, door locks, interior light, comfort access, etc.) may automatically be switched off to conserve the battery.

Don't worry if several items stop working, including windows, folding mirrors, seats, sunroof, etc. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with these systems. Your BMW is trying to charge the main battery quickly. Normal operation should return once the increased battery disappears.

The next step would be to verify that the battery is in good condition and holds a proper charge if the problem remains. If you recently had your BMW battery replaced, ensure your BMW battery has been registered.

The next step in troubleshooting this problem is to perform a charging system test. For this test, you will need a battery analyzer. Your local auto parts store may also perform this test free of charge. 

If you leave your BMW parked for an extended time or have a parasitic drain, connect a 12-volt battery smart trickle charger at the jump terminals in the engine bay to keep the battery fully charged.

bmw increased battery discharge charge battery

 

Symptoms

  • Increased Battery Discharge error message
  • BMW may not start
  • Flickering Instrument Cluster
  • Electrical Malfunctions
  • Car may shut off while driving or at idle.
  • A warning goes away once you start the car.
  • Charge battery warning
  • Service vehicle icon on the dashboard. Vehicle on a lift.
  • Increased battery discharge when stopped
  • Electronic consumers turned off 

Error Messages

The error message may vary between BMW models. Here are some errors of the most common errors:

  • Battery Discharging while stopped. Turn off unnecessary electrical consumers. Reset date and time if required. In case of a repeat occurrence, have the system checked by a mechanic.
  • Increased battery discharge when stationary. Electrical consumer were temporarily switched off.
  • Battery discharging while stopped. Electrical devices were temporarily switched off.
  • Vehicle battery charge low. Charge by driving for longer periods or use an external charger. Functions requiring battery will be switched off.
  • Increased battery discharge when stationary. Electrical consumers were temporarily switched off.

Possible Causes

Several issues can cause increased battery discharge, some of the most common being an old battery, defective IBS sensor, or poor ground connection.

  • The battery is over 5 yr old. Not holding a charge.
  • High electrical demand by a module
  • Loose battery contact or ground
  • IBS sensor defective
  • Electronic devices plugged into the 12volt outlet.
  • Junction Box defective
  • Defective DME / DDE
  • Faulty EDC module in trunk draws excessive current.
  • Defective CA (Comfort Access) module
  • Scanner plugged into the OBD2 port.

Old Battery

bmw increased battery discharge

Stock BMW batteries typically last around 4 to 6 years. If your battery doesn't hold a charge, you can get the increased battery discharge warning at startup or while driving. If the battery is failing, you typically get several warnings.

bmw dim lights

Look at the low beam lights or the running lights (engine must be off, ignition on), and determine if they look dim. If they are slightly dim or the car struggles to start, the battery may be the culprit. It is not uncommon for a BMW battery to fail even at two years due to a bad cell.

Other possibilities include the battery getting drained overnight or the battery isn't getting charged properly. If your BMW keeps dying when parked, make sure that the smart key is not too close to the car.

For example, if the car is parked in the garage and the key is too close, it keeps the systems awake. The car will start fine in the early stages, but your BMW may struggle to start overtime. If your battery is over 7 years old, it is a wise investment to change it.

Follow our guide to learn how to replace the BMW battery and perform battery coding if you need help with those steps. 

IBS Sensor

bmw increased battery discharge error message

A faulty IBS sensor could be the culprit. IBS sensor is installed on the negative battery terminal. When it fails, it starts to drain the battery when the vehicle is parked. 

To check if the IBS sensor is the culprit, you will need to check for a parasitic current draw with a digital multimeter

Battery Connection

bmw increased battery discharge while stopped

A poor battery cable connection can also cause the "increased battery discharge" warning message.

Check the battery terminals to ensure they are not loose, especially if you get this error message after replacing the battery.

If the battery terminals are not loose, remove the battery terminals and clean them using a battery terminal brush.

Corroded terminals can trigger the increased battery discharge error message. Make sure to check and clean the IBS sensor cable as well connected to the negative battery cable.

Related possible issues include a defective alternator, which is failing to charge the battery properly.

Short Trips

short trips

If your BMW is mainly parked or uses your BMW for short trips, you will not give your battery time to get charged.

If that is the case, you may want to connect a 12-volt smart trickle charger overnight to the battery or take your car on longer trips (at least 30 min drive) once a week.

You don't need to drive on the highway to allow the battery to charge; city driving works.

Keep electronic consumers to a minimum, such as the stereo or heated seats. Keep the day running lights off. This will allow the battery to charge faster.

EDC Module

EDC module can also draw excessive current. To verify, disconnect the EDC module, which fails and triggers an Increased Battery Usage warning.

The EDC module is located in the trunk. You should still drive your BMW but can not change the stiffness mode if you disconnect the EDC module.

Cigarette Outlet

An electronic device or a high power charger plugged into the cigarette outlet may drain enough power to trigger this error message.

Make sure that you unplug any phone chargers or GPS units from the 12-volt cigarette outlet. Don't forget to check the rear outlet if you have one.

Cold Weather

During cold temperatures, battery performance drops. On top of that, you are more likely to turn on several consumers, such as heated seats, defrost, wipers, etc.

If you have an old car battery on your BMW, there is a high chance you are going to get an increased high battery discharge error.

Troubleshooting Increased Battery Discharge

First, make sure that you don't have devices plugged into the 12-volt outlets. For example, unplug all phone chargers, GPS charging cable, or any other device.

Next, check the age of the battery and replace it if it is older than five years. If the battery was recently replaced or is relatively new, make sure the BMW battery is coded properly.

Fully charge the battery either by using a battery charger or driving your BMW for at least 30 minutes. If the error message comes up again, it is time to perform further troubleshooting.

The second test you can perform is to measure the battery voltage. Ideally, you want to use a car battery analyzer, but you can use a digital multimeter. 

  1. Connect the multimeter to the battery positive terminal under the hood while the engine is off.
  2. The battery needs to provide at least 12 volts.
  3. Turn on the ignition, and the battery voltage should remain over 12 volts.
  4. Start the car and recheck the voltage. It should be between 13 and 14.5 volts.
  5. If the battery doesn't maintain over 12 volts, it may need to be replaced or a charging system problem. 
  6. If the battery tests good, the next step is to read the DME module's codes and perform a full system scan.

Reading fault codes is a simple procedure that you can perform yourself but requires a good BMW All System Scanner.

Pay attention to other modules that may have stored fault codes. It is possible that another module is malfunctioning and drawing too much current from the battery.

For example, the stock amplifier could be drawing too much current.

Another thing to check is to verify that your BMW goes to sleep once it is parked. Once the BMW is parked and turned off, most systems stay powered for another 5-20 minutes. Then the majority of the systems will go to "sleep" or turn off. If one of the systems never turns off, it can slowly drain the battery. 

By YOUCANIC Automotive Experts
Nov 2020

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