BMW cars equipped with the intelligent charging system may display a warning message indicating increased battery discharge or rapid battery discharge. This problem often occurs when you start your BMW for the first time in the morning, especially in extremely cold weather. You can also get increased BMW battery discharge when stationary. If you see this error message on your dashboard, some electronic components (such as heated seats, power functions, fan, door locks, interior lighting, comfort access, etc.) may turn off automatically in order to to save battery.
When you see this message, remove any chargers or adapters from the cigarette socket. Continue to drive your BMW for at least 30 minutes to charge the battery. If the problem persists, the next step is to verify that the battery is in good condition and that it is charging properly. Perform a charging system test and, if necessary, charge the battery manually by connecting a 12 volt trickle battery charger to the battery terminals.
Don’t worry if several parts stop working, including windows, folding mirrors, seats, sunroof, etc. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with these systems. Your BMW attempts to conserve energy to allow the car to charge the main battery. Normal operation should return once the battery is charged.
Increased battery discharge error message
BMW cannot start
The car can stop while driving or idling
The warning goes away once you start the car
Battery charge warning
Check engine light
Increased battery discharge when stopped
The error message may vary from one BMW model to another. Here are some mistakes that we often see. ● Battery discharged when stopped. Switch off unnecessary electrical consumers. Reset the date and time if necessary. If this problem recurs, have the system checked by a mechanic. ● Increased battery discharge when stopped. Electrical consumers have been temporarily deactivated. ● The battery discharges when stopped. Electrical appliances were temporarily turned off. ● Low vehicle battery charge. Charge while driving longer or use an external charger. Functions requiring a battery will be disabled.
- How to check the BMW battery drain problem?
Check that the error message remains. Access the Vehicle Status check on your iDrive / multimedia screen. Go to main menu – Vehicle information – Vehicle status – Check – Increased battery discharge.
Possible causes of BMW battery drain problem
The increased battery discharge can be caused by several issues, the most common of which is an old battery, a faulty IBS (Intelligent Battery Sensor), or a poor ground connection.
The battery is over 5 years old. Do not hold a charge
High electrical demand by one module
Loose battery contact
Defective IBS sensor
Electronic devices plugged into the 12-volt outlet
Defective junction box
DME (digital motor electronics) / DDE defective
A faulty EDC module in the trunk is drawing excessive current
Defective CA (Comfort Access) module
Scanner connected to the OBD2 port
1- Battery age:
BMW batteries typically last between 4 and 6 years. If your battery does not hold a charge, you may get the increased battery discharge warning when starting or while driving. If the battery fails, you usually receive several other warnings. A simple check you can perform is to examine the low beam or high beam (the engine should be off), and determine if they look weak. If they are slightly dark or the car has trouble starting, the battery may be the cause. It is not uncommon for a BMW battery to fail, even at two years, due to a bad cell.
Note that the battery may run out overnight or not charge properly. If your BMW battery keeps dying while parked, make sure the smart key is not too close to the car.
2- IBS sensor:
A faulty IBS sensor could be the culprit. The IBS sensor is installed on the negative terminal of the battery.
3- Bad connection:
Improper connection of the battery cable can also cause the warning message “increased battery discharge”. Check the battery terminals to make sure they are not loose. Especially if you receive this error message after replacing the battery. If the battery terminals are not loose, remove them and clean them with a battery terminal brush. They can corrode causing the increased battery drain error message. Make sure to check and clean the IBS sensor cable also connected to the negative battery cable. Other possible problems include a faulty alternator not charging the battery properly.
4- Short trips:
If you use your BMW for short trips, you are not giving your battery time to charge properly. It may reduce the battery charge. If so, you can connect a trickle charger overnight to the battery or take longer trips (at least 30 min by car) once a week. You don’t have to drive on the freeway to let the battery charge, city driving also works. Keep electronic consumers to a minimum, such as heated seats. Also keep the daytime running lights off. This will allow the battery to charge faster
5- Cigarette lighter socket:
An electronic device or a high-power charger plugged into the cigarette outlet can use up enough power to trigger this error message. Be sure to unplug phone chargers or GPS units from the 12 volt cigarette outlet. Don’t forget to check the rear socket if you have one.
6- Cold temperature:
In cold weather, battery performance decreases. In addition to that, you are more likely to turn on multiple consumers such as heated seats, defroster, wipers, etc. If you have an old car battery on your BMW, there is a good chance that you will get the battery drain error.
Solutions for increased battery discharge
First, make sure you don’t have any devices plugged into 12-volt outlets. For example, unplug any phone chargers, GPS charging cable, or any other device. In cold weather or in the morning, it is normal for the increased battery discharge alarm to go off, for example in the case if the heater, fan, rear defroster, heated seats, radio, headlights and even the heated steering wheel are activated.
If so, check the age of the battery and replace it if it is over five years old. If the battery has been recently replaced or is relatively new, make sure the BMW battery is coded correctly. Fully charge the battery by using a battery charger or by driving your BMW for at least 30 minutes. If the error message reappears, it is time to perform further troubleshooting. The second test you can perform is to measure the battery voltage. You will need a digital multimeter for this. Don’t worry if you haven’t used one before. They are very easy to use.
Connect the multimeter to the positive terminal of the battery under the hood when the engine is stopped. The battery must provide at least 12 volts. Switch on the ignition, and the battery voltage should remain above 12 volts. Start the car and recheck the voltage. It should be between 13 and 14.5 volts. If the battery does not maintain more than 12 volts, it may need to be replaced. Read: How To Test Car Battery With Multimeter If the battery test is good, the next step is to read the codes from the DME module and perform a full system scan. This is a simple procedure that you can do yourself, but requires a good BMW OBD2 canner .
Pay attention to other modules that may have stored error codes. Another module may be malfunctioning and drawing too much current from the battery. For example, the original amplifier may draw too much current. The EDC module may also draw excessive current. To verify, disconnect the EDC module with known failure and trigger an increased battery usage warning. The EDC module is located in the trunk. You should still be able to drive your BMW but cannot change the stiffness mode if you disconnect the EDC module.
If that doesn’t work, determine if you connected an accessory directly to the negative battery terminal. Remove the terminal connection and use one of the ground points / bolts on the body.