Your BMW dashboard lights illuminate when there is something worth being attentive to in the vehicle. Taking any alerts for granted is not a good idea, especially when the light color represents a critical issue. Driving further could be risky and may lead to the vehicle developing a fault or catastrophic damage.
You need to learn what each BMW dashboard light indicates and what to do when it turns on. Understanding what the various light colors mean is important as well. I will start with the color code in the next subheading.
BMW Dashboard Lights’ Colors and Their Meanings
BMWs use yellow, orange, red, green, and blue for their dashboard lights. The color code is meant to show how serious the issue is or give other pieces of information.
A red light requires you to stop your BMW immediately and address the situation because there may be a danger. An orange or yellow light means a severe issue but requires less urgency than a red one. It may be safe to drive for some time in this instance, but it’s always best to get the vehicle checked ASAP. You must check your BMW with the OBDeleven BMW app to diagnose what is wrong with your car when the dashboard lights pop up.
Green or blue warnings call your attention to enabled BMW features. They give information about indicators and lights or require the driver to act. For example, the headlight indicator light shows drivers that the headlight is turned on.
Note: A blinking warning light is a sign that indicates urgency, just like the red lights.
All BMW Dashboard Lights and Their Meanings
Now that you know what the BMW dash color code is, it is time to know what each light is telling you to look out for.
1. Your BMW’s front fog light is on.
2. This white symbol means that your rear fog light has been turned on.
3. The side-facing arrow symbol indicates that the turn signal has been switched on.
4. The long-distance/high-beam headlights are on.
5. Short headlights/short-beam and stop lights enabled.
6. Malfunctioning brake light, license plate light, signal light, interior lighting, parking light, or rear fog light.
7. It lets you know when the bulb is defective.
8. This means there is a fault in the headlight control system.
9. It alerts you to issues in the system.
10. It becomes visible when the short-beam headlights are enabled.
11. It indicates a battery defect, charging problem, alternator fault, or dead battery.
12. The indicator light that looks like a red sun symbol alerts you to a bad exterior lamp.
13. It lets you know that the drive system is off (manually) or bad. A switch is available to control the overdrive system.
14. This symbol of a vehicle and spanner combo lights up when there is a problem with the lighting (interior and exterior) or electrical components controlled by the body control module. It may also mean a faulty traction control module communication fault.
15. It requires you to push the brake pedal to start the engine.
16. There is too much air in the DPF.
17. This alert calls your attention to a defective catalyst system.
18. There is an increase in the fuel filter’s water level.
19. An old or dirty engine air filter that needs to be swapped out.
20. This light comes on when there is an overheated engine coolant. You will need to stop the vehicle quickly and wait till the engine’s temperature reduces.
21. It indicates that the engine fuel filter is defective or dirty and needs to be changed.
22. This symbol of a gas station pump illuminates when the fuel level is low.
23. This means that there is a drop in engine oil pressure. The vehicle must be stopped quickly, the oil level checked, and the oil topped off. You should make an appointment with your local auto mechanic for servicing after.
24. You must service your engine as soon as possible if this light starts blinking. Drive carefully when the flashing begins.
25. The module that controls the engine alerts you to a reduced engine power output. You should get your BMW diagnosed by a mechanic.
26. An indicator lamp for a necessary engine oil change.
27. The gas fill cap/gauge isn’t tightened well. The CEL may light up as well.
28. It means a DPF test failure.
29. Low DEF level.
Mechanical Parts Warning Lights
30. Worn brake pads. It may mean that the brake lining sensor (for specific models) hasn’t been changed for compatibility with a new brake pad.
31. Push the brake pedal so the automatic shift lever can be operated.
32. Air suspension warning light.
33. Error in the suspension system.
34. This light will turn on when there is a defect in the automatic transmission. It is best to tow the vehicle or at least drive slowly to the auto repair shop or dealership.
35. Your gearbox is working at an inappropriate temperature. Inspect the engine coolant and gearbox oil levels.
Weather Condition Alerts
36. It shows the weather (temperature) outside, below 37˚F or 3˚C. This warning light may be represented by a snowflake in a triangle based on your BMW model.
37. The light and rain sensors that calculate light’s reflection during rainfall don’t interact with the control unit.
38. Windshield defrost function enabled.
39. Rear window defogger enabled.
40. Rain sensor activated.
41. Automatic window wipers activated.
42. This means your diesel BMW engine’s glow plugs have heated up, and the engine shouldn’t be run until the alert goes off. A heating boiler defect may result in white smoke coming out of the exhaust, provided that the engine is working at the right temperature. The heating bulbs need to be swapped out in this case.
43. You need to utilize your winter mode button when driving on slippery or snowy surfaces.
Safe Driving Alerts
44. This symbol of a vehicle surrounded by a triangle gives track distance warnings.
45. This lamp comes on when you exceed the set speed limit (for models that have speed limits).
46. Cruise control enabled.
47. It means you switched lanes without signaling.
48. A door is open.
49. One of the vehicle doors (the bonnet and truck included) isn’t properly closed for parking or driving.
50. The seat belt isn’t attached.
51. Low tire pressure or an issue with the system.
52. The key chip isn’t detectable/identifiable, or it isn’t in the vehicle.
53. It means that the parking brake is enabled. The best way to do this is by putting the gear in the “Neutral” position, pulling the handbrake, and then changing it to “Park” to load the transmission.
54. Parking assistance sensors enabled.
55. You should drive it to the auto repair shop as soon as possible if it shows yellow or get the vehicle towed to the dealership if it shows red.
56. Faulty seatbelt and airbag system.
57. It is a sign that you are practicing economical driving.
58. It alerts you to leaking or low brake fluid level, expired brake pads, or a faulty handbrake.
59. Airbag system is inactive.
60. There is something wrong with the ABS system. You must move carefully at a moderate speed and try not to brake unnecessarily. Take your BMW to the repairer to fix the problem.
61. Cruise control enabled.
62. Unclosed engine hood.
63. Unclosed luggage compartment.
64. Start system fault.
65. Low washer fluid level.
66. You need a key with the right transponder to restart your BMW.
67. It comes on when the vehicle uses the electronic stability or traction control/anti-slip system in slippery conditions.
68. There is an issue with your BMW’s electronic stability or traction control/anti-slip system.
It’s advisable to diagnose by an OBD scan tool or app, such as OBDeleven BMW, to detect the fault. Keep in mind the appearance of the lights may vary on each vehicle. The same also applies to the color code.
This blog post is written by Tim Miller, Editor In Chief of obdadvisor.com. Here you can find more reviews and articles about car repair and maintenance.
Tim is an automotive mechanic, and blogger from Denver, Colorado. He has over 15 years’ experience in car repair and using OBD scanners.
Find his fan page here: facebook.com/autozikcom