Drivetrain malfunction bmw

Drivetrain malfunction bmw DEFAULT
I get the "Drivetrain Malfunction" from time to time, for no reason, with no set difference in pattern of driving or changes of maintenance logistics..:

When the light appears; I just stop the car, power it off for 30 seconds, restart and drive normally. The MIL then usually disappears. I chalk it up to just the vehicle's way of 'alerting' that something is not kosher, not that there's necessarily a major issue.

My only mod is a Dinantronics stage 1, that's it.. Even with this 'dealer-approved' Dinan S1, piggyback tune, it still recently cause me to fail NY OBD2 inspection, not because of a MIL but it appears the Dinan ECU in it's crafty mode of operation, keeps the vehicle's O2 and cat signal in a not "ready" state to circumvent the original command, all while using the same high-jacked feed to manipulating the fuel load.

Cool stuff but it just shows how nothing, in the name of seeking more power, is full-proof without consequence, short of a BMW factory tune.

What I've notice with BMW over my old school Honda is because of its tight tolerances and FlexRay bus network, all working in unison dictating how vehicle operate; any changes that sets written parameters, causes the software function out of bounds, thus also setting off an alarm. For better or worst. It's up to end-user to determine if there are any significance in the alert.

BMW Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately 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 due to a weak battery or come on under normal driving conditions.

In this guide, you will learn more about this problem and diagnose it 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 ECU limits the maximum torque output 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.


BMW Drivetrain Malfunction due to engine problem

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
  • The 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?

A few basic steps that one can take when the BMW Drivetrain Malfunction error message comes up. 

Restart Engine

bmw drivetrain malfunction x3
  1. Find a safe place to park your BMW.
  2. Turn off the ignition and remove the key.
  3. Wait for at least 5 minutes, then restart the car.

In many cases, this will temporarily reset the BMW drivetrain malfunction and allow you to continue your journey.

Inspect Engine

bmw drivetrain malfunction x3

If restarting the engine didn't fix Drivetrain Malfunction Drive Moderately, park the vehicle safely and turn off the engine again.

Pull the hood release under the dashboard and inspect the engine for leaks and unusual smells, indicating 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 the oil light is on. 

Read Codes with a BMW Scanner

bmw drivetrain malfunction car wont start shaking reset error with 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.

  1. Locate the diagnostic port under the dashboard. 
  2. Plugin your scanner. 
  3. Turn on the ignition but don't start the engine. 
  4. Turn on the scanner and select your BMW model. 
  5. Read codes from the engine (DME) and transmission (EGS) module. 

If the engine is shaking and there is reduced power or 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.

Common Problems

An engine misfire often causes BMW drivetrain malfunction.

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.

Spark Plugs

bmw drivetrain malfunction

Worn spark plugs are often the cause of drivetrain malfunction in BMW vehicles. When you change the spark plugs, replace all of them at the same time.

Ignition Coils

Ignition Coils

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 does not generate 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.

Catalytic Convert

Catalytic Convert

A clogged catalytic converter can also cause a BMW drivetrain malfunction error message.

Catalytic converter failure is more likely to happen in high mileage vehicles where the catalytic converter clogs and restricts the exhaust gases.

Low-Quality Fuel or Octane Rating

Catalytic Convert

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 an Octane Booster to the fuel tank to bring up the octane level of the tank's gasoline.

Fuel Injectors

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 simultaneously.

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 the BMW drivetrain malfunction in your car without reading the codes, this error is due to an engine misfire in most cases.


Drivetrain malfunction in 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 an old battery
  • 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 on the highway and while you are accelerating, get a Drivetrain Malfunction message, the 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 perfect chance that:

  • A sensor got unplugged by accident
  • You spilled oil on the engine

iDrive Drivetrain Malfunction Error Messages

Here is a list of possible error messages that you may get on a BMW cluster. The exact wording of the message can vary between models.

  • Drivetrain slowly.
  • Drivetrain malfunction maximum output not available
  • Drive moderately. Maximum drivetrain output not available. Consult service center.
  • Drivetrain malfunction drives 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 is not available. Have the problem checked by service.
  • Drive Modertaley Maximum drivetrain output not available. Consult service center.
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The Quiet One

NorthCountryGuy's Avatar

The Prince is now ill.
After replacing plugs & coils the car ran as it should for a while. Drove about 10 miles, picked up a venti Pike, and was going to go for a cruise and monitor the car. Pulled out of Starbucks and the car started to lurch when at single digit speed and low rpm’s. Not a cylinder misfire shimmy, but was as if I was slamming on the brakes. My coffee in the cup holder even took a dive. I then pulled over out of traffic. Car would start then stall. Finally double pedaled to keep it running and after multiple attempts got it into drive and limped home.

Drivetrain Malfunction Warning
Some sort of Steering Warning
Some Transmission symbol warning
Chassis stabilization Warning

First thing I did was disassemble and check the coils/plugs.
Everything in place. Everything attached firmly.
Checked near everyplace I moved something to see if I violated some harness connection, but none that I could discern.

Plugged it into to my obd2 with BMW enhanced codes and nothing.

He’s going to have to go into the hospital for this. Will have to flatbed it there.
F#@king hassle.
What burns even worse is that I had just done one of my thought out, ‘clean’ tasks on the car.
Just thought I’d share.
Will update after reparation.


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Drives: X3 F25 2014 FL

Join Date: Dec 2018

Location: EU

Way too many errors !!! BMW X3 F25 2014 FL

Hi everyone, my first post here, thought I'd create a new thread but could not do it for some reason.

The first set of errors I got after starting my X3 (F25 2014) was traction control / ABS and the parking brake error. Moved out of my parking spot in the underground parking area and got stuck at the bottom of the ramp, the car could not go up the ramp, saw the drivetrain error and the engine power reduction message. I also noticed the steering wheel had more resistance when I turned it. I then reversed into an empty parking space, drove around the garage for a minute and then was able to climb the 2 ramps and got out of the garage. The drivetrain error was gone. The check engine light was on though (not blinking), the traction control and ABS errors were on too. In about 20 minutes I reached the local BMW service, cut the engine and started it in 20-30 seconds and all errors were gone. I was actually leaving on a vacation trip with my family and the BMW service could not offer any immediate help, we decided to drive on. Next day no errors appeared and we reached our destination. I did not start the car for 6 days and on the day of departure all of the errors and the aforementioned symptoms appeared again. After cutting and starting the engine a few times and letting it run to warm up to 100 degrees Celcius the drivetrain + DTC/ABS errors were gone again and I was able to climb uphill and head back home. Check engine light was still on and after 30 min of driving I stopped, cut the engine, waited for 10 seconds, started it and the light went out. No issues on the way back home. The next day started the car, no warnings, everything worked well but I did not drive anywhere, just switched the parking position of the car. The day after got all the errors again with a few more - cannot get rid of them anymore. The biggest issue I have now is that I cannot get the car out of level (-2) of the underground parking - the drivetrain error cuts the engine power and I get stuck at the bottom of the ramp, gas pedal all the way down to no avail.

Such a bummer since I bought the car just a month ago and there are so many errors to resolve:

1. Press brake to engage gear. Attention: gear can be engaged without brake.
2. Restraint system. Function of airbags, belt tentioners and belt force limiters fault.
3. Drivetrain. Continue the jorney at a moderate speed. Full performance not available.
4. ABS / Brake System. Continue the jorney at a moderate speed. Where possible avoid hard braking.
5. Driving stabilisation. Continue the jorney at a moderate speed. Have the problem checked by Service.

+ steering wheel is stiffer to turn - no errors displayed though - but it was always getting like that when the drivetrain error was appearing.

I hope all of this could not have gone wrong all at once so based on everythingI have read on this forum so far and beyond makes me think the car battery voltage getting low (original one - was not changed since mid 2014) although I am not getting any battery errors and not spotting any signs of weak battery.

Any help is very much appreciated.


Malfunction bmw drivetrain

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