How Do You Fix a BMW Battery Discharge?

BMW owners have reportedly complained of getting a notification on their dashboard that reads “increased battery discharge.” While this message sparks concern, it’s a way to tell BMW owners that their battery is low and needs some moments to charge up before turning off their engine.

The error message is usually accompanied by other messages suggesting possible things to do to savor the situation. In some models, the message is accompanied by starting the engine immediately and recharge by driving for extended periods or using an external charging source. Some show electrical devices temporarily switched off. But why does this happen, and how do you fix a BMW battery discharge issue?

bmw battery discharge

Why does my BMW say battery discharge?

The BMW battery discharge message you get on your dashboard indicates that your battery voltage has drained below the approved level. And therefore, may not be sufficient to start your engine the next time you want to drive.

In most cases, your first intuition may be to charge the car by letting the engine run for a while. However, charging may not always solve the issue. You first need to know why your battery is discharging. So here are the reasons your BMW battery discharges.

Cold weather

During winter or the cold months, people often take short drives while using more accessories like the heater, heated seats, and heated steering wheels to keep themselves warm. Most times, these are in addition to stereo and headlights already on.

Short drives usually do not give your battery enough time to charge. Because the battery doesn’t get enough charge yet powers so many electrical consumers, it will quickly drain. Thus prompting the computer to alert you with the battery discharge warning message.

Numerous electrical devices working simultaneously

Using several accessories simultaneously can make the battery drain faster. It could be a radio, heater or phone plugged into the cigarette lighter. The battery discharge will increase if these accessories draw more current than what the battery’s charging systems can output.

Old batteries

If your battery drains too quickly, it could be that it is old and the cells can no longer hold enough charge. BMW OEM batteries can last within 4-6 years, so if your battery is past that time that could be why you get that error message.

Loosed or corroded battery terminals

Batteries can, over time, deteriorate. If they are, you will see a white substance around them. Corrosion results in an increase in battery resistance, invariably obstructing current flow. When the battery detector system senses this, it reads it as a low battery and sends a warning signal to your dashboard.

Loose battery terminals will also not allow the flow of electric current. Hence, it prevents the battery from charging, transfers constant current to the car’s electronic yet. With this going on, your battery will discharge fast and cause the car’s computer to send a battery discharge warning in your BMW dashboard.

Parasitic drain

Parasitic drains are a result of the electrical system being short-circuited. This can happen even with a newly installed battery.

Failing IBS sensors

The IBS sensors connect to the negative battery terminal and help measure the battery’s performance. When the IBS wears out, it can drain your battery and prompt the battery discharge error message while the vehicle is parked.

BMW Battery Discharge issue YouTube

How do you fix a BMW battery discharge?

The easiest way to fix a BMW battery drain problems is first to identify what prompted it. Some of which we have listed above. The minute you tackle the cause, the error message will also disappear. In fact, most models suggest what to do to fix the issue. Here is how to fix a battery discharge warning in your BMW.

Use fewer accessories

Using fewer electrical consumers may limit the rate at which battery drains. However, while you may be able to turn off accessories like your stereo, the cold weather may push you into using your heater or other accessories to keep you warm. You may need to use an external charger to charge your vehicle overnight or when not in use.

With your battery charged, you can turn on those accessories in cold weather, even when taking short drives. However, if you are using an external charging source, ensure there are no parasitic drains and that your battery is in good condition. So long as your battery level is within the recommended range, the warning message will disappear.

Turn off all non-vital accessories

No vital accessories are anything that may not be needed when driving the car.  Do this, especially when the battery discharge error message pops up while driving.

If this doesn’t discard the message, those accessories weren’t the cause. Here, you may need to look for other reasons. You could do a BMW increased battery discharge reset by resetting the date and time.

Reduce short drives

Since shorter drives do not allow your battery to charge properly, you may need to reduce the number of short drives you take. Many will not let their vehicle charge well yet use many accessories.

Test and replace old batteries

Use a multimeter to test the strength of the battery. If it appears too weak to hold an electrical charge, you may need to replace or repair battery. BMW factory batteries have a life span of 4 – 6 years.

Clean or tighten the terminals

A corroded battery terminal will have a white powdery substance around it; check for this and clean them off. Tighten loosed battery terminals as well.

Fix or replace failing IBS

The message is; battery discharge while stopped in BMWs is often related to failing IBS. So look through the IBS. Inspect for cracks, corrosion, broken connectors or any physical damage. You can also test using an OBD II scanner; it will show you a set of fault codes. But ensure you can read these codes. Ensure you replace bad IBS sensors.

Fix parasitic drains

To fix this, look for the specific circuit responsible for the parasitic drain and do the needful. This can be carried out independently, but if you don’t know your way around, visit an expert mechanic.

Turn off the auto start/start feature

The auto stop/start feature in BMWs tends to use batteries. Shutting off this feature may preserve your battery.

Common signs of increased battery discharge

Here are the common signs of a battery malfunction in your BMW.

  • Engine stops abruptly while idle or driving
  • Twinkling of the instrument cluster
  • Battery discharge error message on your dashboard
  • Car refusing to start
  • Electronics turning off suddenly
  • Battery drains while the car is parked
  • Error message disappears once you start your car

How do I check the health of my BMW battery?

To check the condition of your BMW battery

  • Put off the ignition and all vehicle lights
  • Attach the voltmeter red lead to the positive terminal and the black to the negative battery terminal
  • If the battery reads 14 volts or more than 12.4 volts, the battery is in good condition. If between 12.2 or below, the battery may need to be charged or replaced.

Final words

This article has answered the question: how do you fix a BMW battery discharge? The first step is identifying why the vehicle throws that error code on your dashboard. Understand that the error message you get depends on your BMW model and the time you got it. But generally, all error messages signify your battery is low. What causes low battery, then?

It could be the battery not charging enough, especially during short drives. Old batteries, loose terminals, using too many electronics and accessories simultaneously could also account for the battery discharged message. Avoid short drives, replace old batteries, clean corroded terminals etc.


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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