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BMW X5 Battery Problems You Should Know About

What kind of problems does a BMW X5 normally have with its battery? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an X5. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: Types Of Gas A BMW X5 Can Use (Explained)

1. Parasitic Battery Drain

Batteries installed on any vehicle have a certain lifespan. Generally, the battery on the BMW X5 lasts for about three to five years. But unfortunately, this period is shortened by several factors.

Parasitic drain is among those factors that lead to the battery drainage problem on the BMW X5.

When dealing with the parasitic battery drain problem within your X5, you would first have to examine the origin of the drain and then proceed accordingly to prevent it from sucking the juice from your X5’s battery.

What Exactly Is Parasitic Drain On The X5?

Before dealing with this problem, understanding the parasitic drain is crucial. By understanding, this term addressing this issue becomes more manageable.

Once you turn off your BMW, ideally, the battery is expected to hold the same amount of charge that it had before shutting down the engine. However, this is not always the case. At times, the battery can go flat even when the car is not running. This unexplained loss of battery power is referred to as a parasitic drain. 

BMW cars, including the X5, come fitted with numerous electronic systems like – radio, infotainment, alarm system, power windows, and other advanced features. Often, these systems contribute to the battery drainage (or parasitic drain) problem on your BMW X5 even when the ignition is off.

Although, to some extent, drainage of the battery charge is expected and is pretty standard. But, during instances when the drain surpasses expectations or the battery completely goes flat, that’s when you can conclude a problem. If this issue is ignored, frequent drains can ruin the battery’s performance and reduce its lifespan.

Diagnosing The Parasitic Drain On Your BMW X5

As mentioned earlier, before treating the parasitic drain in your X5, identifying the origin of the charge slippage is crucial. It can be your radio or a simple short circuit that’s causing the loss of charge. To confirm drainage, you can perform a drain test.

Using a multimeter, you can detect the parasitic drain problem on your BMW X5. When checking, ensure that the car is turned off entirely and the keys are out of the ignition.

With the keys withdrawn and the ignition system turned off. Set the multimeter to the highest amp level. Setting it to this level will avoid any damage during the test. After doing that, go ahead and withdraw the negative cable (black in color) from the car’s battery.

While disconnecting the negative cable, make sure it does not touch any metal part in the surrounding engine area. Next, attach the multimeter to the battery terminal cables.

If no reading shows up, try again by reducing the DC setting until a reading is detected.  

In the BMW X5, ideally, the multimeter should show a reading between 50 and 85 mA if the reading is more than this standard range. Then it indicates the problem of a parasitic drain in your BMW X5 that needs some rectification.  

Source of the Drain

Unfortunately, you can’t tell where the battery’s charge is leaking with your bare eyes. To detect the real culprit, you need to dig deeper into the fuse box to find the source of the drain.

On the BMW X5, there are usually two fuse boxes on every model. One is located under the glovebox, and the other can be found in the cargo area (on the right side) or the engine area on some models.

Start by looking at the fuse box inside the engine area since it holds the circuit of the most crucial electrical components. This process can be a little exhausting, as you need to remove the fuses, one at a time and while monitoring the fluctuations in the multimeter.

When the fuse of the electrical component causing the battery drainage is removed, you will notice the standard reading on the multimeter. Hence, you would have to remove and replace the fuses until you find your target fuse.

After identifying the faulty fuse, you can check the electrical component associated with it. For this, look at the cover of the fuse box to differentiate between the fuses. Moreover, you can refer to the BMW X5’s owner’s manual to avoid any mistakes.

Fixing And Preventing Parasitic Drain

Once you have identified the defective fuse and its related electrical component, it is recommended to visit the BMW service station since the underlying problem can be a bit complex and might require an expert’s assistance. Moreover, a BMW technician is well aware of the parasitic drain problem and its original cause.

Lastly, to prevent the parasitic battery drain problem in your BMW X5. You should know that battery drain results from electrical components and environmental and external factors.  Therefore, you can avoid taking short trips on your X5 as a preventive measure, as short trips reduce the time needed by the alternator to charge the battery fully.

Moreover, make sure that the battery cables are held tightly onto the battery terminals, as loose cables can create a loop to drain the battery within a few hours. Also, ensure that the battery terminals are clean and free from dust, as dirty battery terminals might stop the battery from fully charging.

2. Battery Drain Due To Faulty TCU unit

The TCU or the Telematics Control Unit on the X5 is the telematics platform of the BMW. A faulty TCU on the BMW X5 can result in a battery drainage problem. Issues with the TCU on the X5 are prevalent, which ultimately causes the battery to drain.

Usually, the TCU or Telematics Control Unit is located in the trunk, in almost all BMW X5, and would be hidden by the trimming.

The TCU mainly controls –

  • Teleservices
  • BMW Assist
  • BMW Online
  • Bluetooth
  • SOS emergency call
  • Remote functions like – remote heating, remote door locking / AC control, etc.

The Most Common Indications For A Faulty TCU Module

  • Phone not able to connect with the car, and the Bluetooth menu not available.
  • Improper functioning CCC (Car Communication Computer) iDrive head unit.
  • iDrive navigation freezes frequently.
  • Voice commands are delayed or are not responded to by the vehicle.
  • The iDrive controller spins freely.

The above symptoms indicate a faulty TCU unit on your BMW X5.

Moreover, water infiltration can sometimes be the culprit behind the TCU unit not working properly, causing the battery to drain. In that case, you would have to open up the metal case of your TCU to check for any corrosion on the mainboard. 

Using A Diagnostic Scanner

Another way to detect any problem with the TCU is using a BMW Diagnostic scanner to read the fault codes from the BMW TCU module. The procedure of doing so may vary depending on the model of your diagnostic scanner. But in general, you would have to –

  • Plugin the scanner into the diagnostic port (under the dashboard).
  • Turn on the ignition. But don’t start the engine.
  • Turn on the scanner and choose your BMW chassis.
  • Next, Select the Control Units menu.
  • Select the TCU Module.

Once you have selected the TCU module, you will be able to do the following –

  • Read fault codes from the TCU module
  • Clear codes from the TCU module
  • Perform Adaptations, Activations, Tests

If the TCU goes bad, it can affect the battery performance of your BMW X5. To physically check the TCU for any faults, remove and replace the fiber optics connector from the unit with a Most Fiber Optic Loop Cable Bypass Female Adapter.

Suppose you can’t get a MOST bypass connector. Then leave it disconnected and remember that it will disconnect the sound amplifier too. It is no serious concern. It’s just that you cannot hear any music till the TCU or the MOST loop connector is reconnected. But this process will help you identify whether the TCU is having any trouble that is causing the battery to lose its charge quickly.

Fixing the battery drainage issue because of a faulty TCU module usually needs replacing. A new TCU module for the BMW X5 can cost you anywhere around $120-$150 in the United States. If you’re not a DIY person, consider going to a service station to resolve the issue.

3. ‘Increased Battery Discharge’ Error Message

The message ‘Increased Battery Discharge’ on the BMW X5 comes up when the vehicle’s battery is low or getting discharged faster than getting charged by the alternator.

Commonly this warning message shows up when you start your X5 after some time, especially during cold weather conditions. Else, it can also show up when the car stops after driving.

Depending on the make of your BMW X5, the error message may vary. These are some of the other most common errors:

  • Increased battery discharge when stationary. Electrical consumers were temporarily switched off.
  • Battery discharging while stopped. Electrical devices were temporarily switched off.
  • Increased battery discharge when stationary. The electrical consumer was temporarily switched off.
  • Vehicle battery charge low. Charge by driving for longer periods or use an external charger. Features that consume the battery will be switched off.
  • Battery Discharging while stopped. Turn off unnecessary electrical consumers. Reset date and time if required. In case of a repeat occurrence, have the system checked by a mechanic.

To remove the message, you might have to unplug any auxiliary device from the cigarette outlet and turn off unnecessary systems like sound system, seat heaters while keeping the engine running. It might take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for the battery to top up and the message to reset.  

Moreover, after you notice this error message on your dashboard, chances are your X5 would automatically turn off some auxiliary consumers (like – power features, interior light, comfort features, air conditioning, sunroof, etc.) to conserve battery. Do not worry if certain electrical features fail to operate. It is your vehicle trying to top up the battery speedily.

Other common symptoms of the ‘Increased Battery Discharge’ error message are –

  • Car won’t start
  • Electrical malfunctions
  • Service vehicle icon on the dashboard
  • Electrical power consumers turned off
  • Flickering instrument cluster
  • Charge battery warning

Suppose you detect any of the above signs along with the ‘Increased battery discharge’ error message. Then firstly, you should check the battery of your BMW X5 for any visible faults or damage. If you have recently changed the BMW battery, make sure the battery has been registered.

Suppose the battery looks fine and is registered. Then you might have to seek the assistance of a BMW technician. As many different factors could lead to this error message, including –

  • The battery is very old (over five years)
  • Loose battery contact or ground
  • Defective IBS sensor
  • Defective DME / DDE
  • Defective Junction Box
  • Defective CA (Comfort Access) module
  • Defective EDC module draws excessive current
  • High electrical demand by a particular system or a module
  • Heavy electronic devices plugged into the 12V outlet

Therefore, to remove the ‘Increased Battery Discharge’ error message, it is highly advisable to visit a BMW service station.