BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power is a common problem among many 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) will also come on. The color of the check engine light can help you get an idea of how serious the problem is.
In addition to typical BMW Engine Malfunction message on the iDrive screen, BMW owners may notice the following symptoms as well.
Here is a list of common problems that cause BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power message.
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 lack of power. Usual failure points are an electric motor and an eccentric shaft position sensor.
Codes: 2A61, 2A63, 2A67, 2A6F, 2A70
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
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 can fail from 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-related problems can trigger a 'check engine' light. Although timing chains are supposed 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.
A weak battery can cause BMW Engine Malfunction Reduced Power message on the iDrive screen. BMW are very senstive 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.
Guide: How to replace BMW battery.
Newer bimmers, starting from E90 335i, have engines with high-pressure fuel injection. This is a delicate system which can be damaged by a 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
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 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
BMW cars are very complex and precise piece of engineering. A generic OBD2 reader just won't do the trick.
Scanner used: TopDon ArtiDiag
To diagnose BMW Engine Malfunction you will need a BMW Specific 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.
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 up on an E60 E70 E90 E92 E65 F10 etc.
As the engine is not operating perfectly, you should not put it under 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.
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 codes.