BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction (Here Is What To Do)

bmw emergency call system malfunction

‍Have you ever wondered how to fix the BMW emergency call system malfunction or the SOS call system malfunction? Well, we got you covered.

BMW’s Emergency Call System, also known as the Intelligent Emergency Call, is a vital feature designed to provide assistance during emergencies. However, a malfunction in this system can be concerning for BMW owners.

Here are a few steps you need to take to fix the BMW emergency call system malfunction, which includes:

  1. Check the Telematics Control Unit (TCU)
  2. Check for Faulty Satellite Radio
  3. Check for Defective Head Units (iDrive)
  4. Check for Incorrect Amplifier
  5. Check for Damaged Fiber Optic Cable

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and solutions for BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction, helping you understand the issue and take appropriate action.

What is the BMW Emergency Call System?

The BMW Emergency Call System, or Intelligent Emergency Call, is a feature installed in BMW vehicles that serves as an SOS in the event of an accident or emergency.

The system connects you to the BMW Accident Assistance Center by pressing the iDrive controller. The BMW Assist call center will direct you to the nearest BMW Certified Collision Repair Center and arrange for towing if necessary.

In case of airbag deployment, the system will automatically initiate a call to the BMW call center, providing crucial information about the accident and vehicle location.

Causes of BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction

Several factors can lead to the Emergency Call System malfunction in BMW vehicles. Some common causes include:

  1. Bad Telematics Control Unit (TCU)
  2. Faulty satellite radio
  3. Defective head units (iDrive)
  4. Incorrect amplifier
  5. Damaged fiber optic cable

1. Bad Telematics Control Unit (TCU)

The TCU is an embedded onboard system responsible for diagnostics, wireless tracking, and communication. It controls features such as Bluetooth, BMW Assist, BMW Online, and remote functions.

A damaged TCU can disrupt the communication between the Emergency Call System and the BMW Assist call center, triggering the malfunction warning.

What to Do:

If you suspect a bad TCU, take your vehicle to a skilled mechanic for a TCU replacement.

2. Faulty Satellite Radio

A defective satellite radio can also cause the Emergency Call System to malfunction. The satellite radio is usually located on the side or under the floor cover of your trunk.

Repairing a faulty satellite radio can be challenging, and it may be more convenient to purchase a new or working used model.

Alternatively, if you don’t use the satellite radio, you can install a fiber optic bypass loop as a fix.

What to Do:

Resetting the satellite radio: Disconnect the battery of your BMW for 12 hours, forcing the satellite radio to reboot. After reconnecting the battery, reconfigure the satellite radio settings.

3. Defective Head Units (iDrive)

BMW’s iDrive system controls most secondary vehicle systems, including the Emergency Call System. If the iDrive head units (such as CIC, CCC, and NBT) are damaged, they can cause communication issues within the fiber optic loop or a complete shutdown of the head units, resulting in the activation of the BMW SOS light.

What to Do:

Rebooting the iDrive: Turn off the vehicle’s engine and ensure only the accessories are on. Press and hold the volume button for 30 seconds until the screen powers down. Release the button and press it again to reboot the system.

4. Incorrect Amplifier

A wrong or defective amplifier can cause all systems within the fiber optic loop to shut down, affecting the Emergency Call System.

If the amplifier is damaged, the best course of action is to replace it.

What to Do:

Take your vehicle to the nearest BMW repair store for an amplifier replacement.

5. Damaged Fiber Optic Cable

The fiber optic cable may accidentally get disconnected while working on the car, causing the Emergency Call System to malfunction.

Although fiber optic cables are rarely problematic, they should be checked if other causes have been ruled out.

What to Do:

Splice the damaged fiber optic cable using a mechanical splice kit.

Read also >> Battery Management System Malfunction (Here Is What To Do)

Symptoms of BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction

Here are some major symptoms of the BMW Emergency Call System malfunction:

  • A struck-out SOS call malfunction warning light illuminates
  • iDrive system not responding (some models)
  • Disabled warning chimes
  • An error message on your iDrive reading “malfunction or limited functionality. Consult service center.”

Diagnosing and Repairing BMW Emergency Call System Malfunction

It is essential to diagnose the issue accurately to ensure the Emergency Call System is functioning correctly. A thorough inspection of the E-call/SOS components, including checking the wiring system for defective wires, is necessary.

If any damaged wires are found, they should be fixed or replaced.

If the issue persists after attempting minor fixes, it is recommended to contact a skilled BMW mechanic before making any significant modifications to the vehicle.

BMW SOS Emergency Call Malfunction FAQs

How does BMW intelligent emergency call work?

The BMW Intelligent Emergency Call system is designed to automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident or other emergency.

The system can diagnose the car and send relevant data to rescuers, including the car’s current position, the number of airbags deployed, and an estimation of the accident’s severity. The system can be activated by pressing and holding the SOS button above the rear view mirror.

For motorcycles, the system can detect high-speed crashes and automatically send a signal to the BMW call center.

The saved data from the crash, along with any relevant information, is immediately transmitted to the BMW call center, which alerts emergency responders. The user can also manually trigger the service through a button on the left-hand handlebar.

How do I clear BMW error codes?

To clear BMW error codes, you would need an OBD-II scanner, which can be purchased online or rented from an auto parts store.

Connect the scanner to the OBD-II port under the dashboard and follow the instructions on the scanner to clear the error codes.

It is important to note that clearing the codes will not fix the underlying issue causing the error codes, so it is recommended to diagnose and fix the issue before clearing the codes.

If you are unsure about how to diagnose or fix the issue, it is best to take your BMW to a certified mechanic or dealership for assistance.

Do you have to pay for BMW SOS?

No, you do not have to pay for BMW SOS as it is included in BMW’s Driver Assistance program for the first four years from the original in-service date, with no mileage limitations and no extra cost.

The E Call feature provides immediate assistance for drivers in case of a minor issue or an emergency by sending your location and relevant information to BMW Assist response center, and a response specialist contacts police and emergency medical services.

However, an active subscription to BMW Assist is required for using the E Call feature. Additionally, there is an optional Convenience Plan that costs $199 per year, plus applicable taxes.

You must be a Safety Plan subscriber to enroll in the optional plan

What is the lifespan of a BMW battery?

The lifespan of a BMW battery can vary depending on multiple factors. On average, a BMW battery can last anywhere between three to five years. However, there are many factors that can influence the lifespan of the battery, such as usage patterns, weather conditions, and driving habits.

It is essential to maintain and protect your BMW battery to ensure its smooth and consistent operation. Hendrick BMW of South Austin offers battery replacement services and OEM batteries with a warranty of up to two years.

They also provide solutions to increase the longevity of the battery’s life and help customers identify signs that indicate when a BMW battery needs to be replaced.

How much does it cost to replace a BMW battery SOS?

The cost of replacing a BMW battery can vary depending on several factors such as location, type of battery, and mechanical difficulty.

The prices for a replacement car battery range from about $45 to $250. The average cost for a BMW 328i Battery Replacement is between $368 and $394, with labor costs estimated between $97 and $122 while parts are priced between.

It is recommended that BMW owners replace their batteries every 3-5 years to keep their cars running smoothly and prevent further damage.

Do I need to reprogram my BMW after changing the battery?

Yes, it is recommended to reprogram your BMW after changing the battery. This process is called battery registration, and it ensures that the car’s onboard computer system recognizes and adjusts to the new battery’s specifications.

Failing to register the new battery may result in improper charging, decreased fuel economy, and a shortened battery lifespan. It is best to have this process done by a professional BMW service and repair facility to ensure that it is done correctly.

However, if you choose to do it yourself, make sure to follow the proper steps and switch between wet-cell and AGM type batteries as needed.

BMW Emergency Call System Not Available – Sorted >> Check out the video below:


Experiencing a BMW Emergency Call System malfunction can be concerning, but understanding the causes, symptoms, and solutions can help you address the issue effectively. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may or may not need a technician’s assistance. However, it is always best to consult with a skilled BMW mechanic before attempting any significant modifications to your vehicle. Remember that sometimes, all your vehicle’s system needs is a simple reboot to get back on track. Armed with the information in this article, you can confidently address any Emergency Call System malfunctions and ensure your BMW is always prepared for emergencies.

Stephan K.

I have been working as a mechanic for over 13 years and have been deeper into advanced automotive diagnostics for some years.

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