With the average cost of a single automotive electrical problem hovering around $300, the cost of persistent issues can add up. Some cars are known for having the same issues come up again and again. For owners of a BMW, electrical problems can keep sending you to the mechanic if you don’t know how to fix them yourself.
Fixing issues that have to deal with your car’s safety, like replacing brake pads, is intimidating. While you can certainly make mistakes, replacing small parts on your own BMW can be an empowering and informative experience. As you learn how to fix issues on your car, you learn more about how the car works.
If you’re dealing with common BMW electrical problems, you could fix them yourself for a fraction of going to the mechanic. If you encounter one of these 10 issues, why not try dealing with it yourself.
1. Dead Batteries
For BMWs and just about every other type of car, dead batteries happen more than we’d like. If you have a phone charger plugged into your car overnight, you can accidentally drain your battery without realizing it.
BMWs will tell you how your battery is doing just by switching on your headlights. A good battery should last around 4 years. If your battery is newer than that, you could have a deeper issue.
2. Low Power Or Sudden Lost Power
This isn’t necessarily due to a dead battery. This is one of those BMW electrical problems that could happen to anyone. If your battery connectors have been exposed to the elements, the terminals or cable connectors can corrode.
This will create an insecure connection and cause your battery to lose power.
If you’ve just driven your car and when you turn your key and only hear a click, your battery could be having trouble storing power. Clean off your terminals, recharge your battery, and see if that fixes your issue.
3. Key Won’t Turn
If you can’t even seem to turn your key in the ignition, you might be facing an issue with your steering column. If the key has seized up, try moving the wheel gently while you carefully turn the key. Be careful not to force it as the last thing you want is a broken key.
If you see the dashboard has lit up the steering lock symbol, you could be dealing with computer problems as well. Carefully see if you can get yourself out of it. Bringing it to a mechanic could cost hundreds to fix.
4. Alternator Issues
Power problems can arise while you’re already out on the road. You could be out on the highway and start to see your lights dim or your heating suddenly lower.
If your battery isn’t charging as well as it should, your alternator could be to blame. Make a list of any power issues you suspect and see what the symptoms are for a failing alternator. If it seems like everything is lining up, look into getting your alternator replaced.
Losing power might not be catastrophic but it can be alarming whether you’re driving down a desolate road or a busy highway.
5. Starter Issues
If you notice problems getting your engine to turn over, you might have to check your starter. Starter issues are fairly common but can cost you big time.
If you feel confident working on your car, you can look up a tutorial on how to replace your starter. You should be able to do it in just over an hour. But if you don’t have any of the tools for it, it might not be worth your time.
Starter issues could come from your solenoid as well. If you notice issues with braking as well as starting, your solenoid might need to be replaced.
6. Bad Cables
One of the most common and overlooked of all BMW electrical problems is also one of the simplest. Sometimes cables fray or get broken. Whether you had a rodent climbing around and chewing on your cables or a small fender bender caused the trouble, a broken cable will disrupt electricity.
Wiggle the cables on your battery or anywhere else you feel like there might be a problem. Replacing a cable or just tightening a bolt can be a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing a part of bringing your car into the shop.
7. Fuse Issues
Blown fuses could disrupt a certain section of your dashboard or interrupt the flow of electricity throughout your car. Get into your fuse box and inspect each one. If you notice something loose, burnt out, or looking different from the rest, switch it out.
Fuses are cheaper than many other components for your BMW. This is one of those BMW electrical problems that could be fixed for pennies on the dollar versus hundreds at the mechanic.
8. Alternator Belt Cracks
Your alternator is at the heart of power management in your BMW. As your car uses battery power, the alternator sends it back into the battery, keeping it charged. Cracks in your alternator belt can disrupt this flow and weaken the feedback into your battery.
While your battery might be in great condition, if it’s not getting what it needs from your alternator, you could be left high and dry. Check for cracks and find a tutorial to replace it if necessary.
9. Ignition System
Your ignition switch is a vital part of getting your car started. If your switch isn’t working, trying to start it could flood your engine.
If you don’t hear a click when you turn the key, you could be dealing with a broken switch. Some projects are too complicated for DIY. You might want to call a mechanic for this one.
10. Loose Spark Plugs
If you have old or loose spark plugs, your BMW could lose power when you change gears. If your car struggles with this, check out your spark plugs.
Replacing them yourself could cost $25. Bringing your car to a mechanic for this one could cost $300 or more. If you feel confident, replace them yourself.
BMW Electrical Problems Can Be Easily Fixed
So many of the most common BMW electrical problems can be dealt with in your driveway. Whether you pick out a YouTube tutorial or just look at your owner’s manual, you’ll find lots of tips for doing some DIY maintenance.
If you’re ready to tackle more issues on your vehicle, check out our guide for diagnosing problems like a pro.