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BMW SOS malfunction message displays on the iDrive screen when there is a problem with the BMW SOS call, also known as the distress system.

Table of Contents

The most common issues are a software glitch, a fault in the SOS control module, or a Bluetooth pairing issue.


BMW SOS Call System Malfunction

When the SOS call system fails, it will warn the driver with a crossed-out  SOS call malfunction warning light on the dashboard.

In some models, the iDrive system will not respond to any commands.

Warning chimes might be disabled as well.

What Causes BMW SOS Call System Malfunction?


All units, such as an amplifier, SOS modules, or head-unit, are connected with an optic cable in one loop. This improves the signal quality and reduces interference. On the downside, if one component fails, all other devices within the loop will be disconnected. 

  • Satellite Radio: A faulty satellite radio is the most common cause by far. Depending on the model, it is located in the trunk, either on the side or under a floor cover. Although the satellite radio can be repaired, replacing it with a working used unit is much easier. Another approach is to install a universal fiber optic bypass loop, which is a cheaper fix if you don't use the satellite radio. 
  • iDrive: Head-unit, CCC, CIC, or NBT, can suffer from various issues. Some failures can shut down the head unit or cause communication problems within the fiber-optic loop. This will trigger an SOS call malfunction warning light. Also, check the fuses at the backside of the unit.
  • Amplifier: Like with the head unit, a faulty amplifier or Bluetooth module will bring down all the systems within this loop. These two units are located under a floor cover. The fiber-optic bypass loop can be used to pinpoint the faulty component. Also, check the fuses at the side of the units.
  • Fiber Optic Cable: On some rare occasions, the fiber-optic cable can suffer from damage. This can happen while some other work is done to the car in the area this cable runs from.

BMW SOS Call System  Explained


Many modern BMWs are equipped with an SOS call system, sometimes called an intelligent emergency call system. The purpose of this feature is to assist a driver everywhere and at any time.

It sends the location and relevant information to the BMW Assist response center. A response specialist can then contact police and EMT services, saving critical time.

The SOS button is located above the rear-view mirror and opens the cover. Pressing a red SOS button will activate the system, and a green LED illuminates.

The response specialists will contact the driver and determine what help is needed. The specialist can request dispatch of emergency services to the location, notify emergency contacts on file linked to BMW roadside assistance, and, if appropriate, provide emergency directions to the nearest police station and hospital.

In the event of an accident, crash sensors activate an emergency call to the BMW call center. Car location, possible injuries, and other information needed for planning the deployment of emergency services are sent automatically. The response specialist will assess the situation and take the necessary steps to provide the needed assistance.