(click your model)
Warning Lights Explained
Power Steering Warning
If you see a red steering wheel with an exclamation point next to it appear then it is most likely an electric power-assisted steering issue.
Try pulling over and resetting the car by switching it off completely and then starting it again.
If the light continues after you restart the car then seek help from a trained mechanic or BMW dealership.
Stability Control Off
Much like the stability control warning symbol, this one features the word "OFF" underneath it to let you know that the system is turned off.
Switching the stability control off in a car is not usually as simple as pressing a button by accident, it's common that you would have to hold down a button for several seconds.
If you have not switched it off yourself then you may be experiencing a fault and need help from a trained mechanic.
Stability Control Warning
If the stability control has to kick in then you will most probably see an orange/yellow warning light showing a car with swirls below.
Most of the time when this kicks in you will also hear an audio alarm to let you know that the car has intervened to restore traction.
If you are not experiencing a lack of traction and the light is stuck on then your BMW is most likely experiencing a fault with the system.
Seek help from a trained mechanic or BMW dealership if the warning light remains on constantly.
Low Fuel Indicator
If you have what looks like an old-fashioned fuel pump at a gas station symbol light up orange/yellow then you are most likely low on fuel.
If this warning light appears even after you have filled up with fuel then seek help from a BMW dealership or trained mechanic.
Low Washer Fluid Warning
A symbol showing a windscreen (or an open book) with a water fountain in the middle is trying to tell you that the washer fluid is low in your car.
Topping up should be easy and under your bonnet is a cap that will have the same symbol to show where to put your washing fluid.
If you have topped up and the light has not gone out (wait a few minutes) then seek professional help.
Electronic Throttle Control Warning
If you are shown a lightning symbol (zig-zag) between 2 bent lines you could be experiencing an issue with your electronic throttle control system.
The easiest solution to fix this can be to pull over and restart the car, otherwise, it is best you visit a trained mechanic.
Tire Pressure Warning
Most BMW cars sold today have a tire pressure warning light fitted in the instrument cluster on the dashboard.
As soon as the tire pressure drops this light will illuminate orange to indicate that you need to fix the problem.
If the indicator is flashing it may mean that a rapid drop in pressure is detected and it is recommended that you pull over straight away.
The drop in pressure could be caused by a leak from a puncture or wear and tear around the rim - even a rapid change in temperature can sometimes cause this too.
Driving around on tires that are not correctly pumped up can be dangerous, affecting both braking and handling. The worst-case scenario is that the tire bursts (usually at the worst time possible like at higher speeds) and your car becomes uncontrollable.
You need to either pump the tire up yourself or seek help from a trained professional from a tire shop or at BMW.
Hybrid Power Limitation Warning
If you see a yellow/orange turtle in a circle on your dashboard then your BMW is trying to tell you that the hybrid system is low on power.
This could be caused by the batteries being depleted due to heavy use but a more sinister reason could be battery damage.
If this warning stays on for a longer time than it used to then it's probably best to get your car's hybrid system tested.
Loose Gas Cap Warning
If a strange symbol appears on your dashboard that appears to show a car with a chunk taken out of with a screw hovering next to it then your gas cap may be loose.
If you have checked your gas cap and it is correctly fastened then you may need to seek help from a trained mechanic who can check for other problems.
A loose gas cap or a leak in that system can cause pressure issues on modern engines (especially diesel-powered ones) which can cause the engine to act erratically.
Check Engine Light Warning
The dreaded check engine light can mean a lot of things for your BMW and can range from a simple fix to a major expense.
The symbol may appear as either an icon with text in the middle or may appear without any text and be the outline of a sort of transmission.
If you see this warning light come up then pull over and try to restart the engine, sometimes a wild fluctuation can set it off when there is no real problem.
Auto Stop-Start Warning
If you experience a circle with an arrow and the letter "A" in the center or even an exclamation mark then this would suggest the auto stop-start system has experienced a fault.
The easiest solution is to restart the car to see if the problem persists, if so seek professional help, though the car may function normally just without that economy feature.
High Beam Indicator
A blue semi-circle with straight lines coming out of the side indicates that the vehicle's full-beam lights are switched on.
When you activate the main lights the full-beam will also activate and produce a much stronger beam of light pointing forward.
It is common (and law in some places) not to drive with these on when facing another road user.
To turn these on and off it's usually the backward and forwards motion of the stalk that the lights are on behind the steering wheel.
Cruise Control Indicator
A green warning light showing a speedometer with an arrow pointing towards it suggests that the cruise control system is active.
Hybrid Service Warning
A spanner with a lightning bolt (or zig-zag) through it would suggest to you that your BMW's hybrid system needs servicing.
This can be due to several factors such as mileage, age or that the system has detected a fault.
Ideally, you will take the vehicle to a BMW mechanic as the hybrid systems are very specialized.
Security / Anti-Theft Warning
A simple red dot on the dashboard instrument cluster could represent the security/anti-theft system experiencing an error.
This could be in any of the security systems such as the immobilizer or alarm (if fitted).
If the light persists while driving then it definitely indicates a problem and requires being looked at by a trained mechanic.
Charging System Warning
This warning light is shaped like a battery (or a Lego brick) with a positive and negative symbol on each side and is a solid red color.
If this light appears on your dashboard then it means that the battery is no longer being charged by the engine.
As it is a red light this means you should pull over and stop driving the car as quickly as possible.
A common cause for this problem is that the alternator has stopped working or the wires connecting it to your battery have come loose.
Continuing to drive with a battery that may be near empty could lead to a serious accident as you may lose vital systems at any time.
Seek the help of an independent mechanic or go to your local BMW dealer/garage.
Oil Pressure Warning
An Aladdin's lamp style icon in red with nothing around it on its own represents that the oil pressure in the engine is low.
This can be caused by a leak leading to a rapid loss in oil from underneath your engine or the oil being burnt within your engine and pushed out of the exhaust.
As this is a red warning light it is not advised that you continue to drive the vehicle until it goes out.
Driving with a low oil pressure light on can cause serious damage to the engine as it will not be properly lubricated and could overheat and/or cause extensive wear.
This warning light may appear different depending upon the region that you have bought your BMW.
In most territories, the brake warning light will appear simply as the text BRAKE, though in Canada it will appear as an exclamation point with brake pads surrounding a circle.
The Canadian version is a bit confusing as that symbol also looks like a handbrake symbol for a lot of cars.
In any case whatever region you are in and you see a red icon (especially the red brake warning) you need to pull over the car immediately.
There could be all sorts of things wrong with the brakes including fluid pressure or even technological like brake assistance programs that may be faulty.
Seek the assistance of an independent garage or BMW dealership if you see this icon.
Air Bag Warning
A passenger with a large circle in front of them and illuminated red displayed in the dashboard is your BMW trying to tell you that there is an issue with one or all of the air-bags.
As soon as this comes on it is advised that you take the car to a trained mechanic or a BMW dealership.
This warning light is very obvious and will feature the letters "ABS" surrounded by a circle and some crudely drawn brake pads.
The warning is to let you know that the ABS braking-assist system has malfunctioned yet the brakes could very well still work normally without the assistance.
Its recommended that you seek the help of a trained mechanic or BMW dealership as soon as possible.
Lane Sense Warning
If you are seeing a warning light that looks like a car straying over broken or solid lines then your car may be reporting that you are switching lanes.
An audio alert may accompany the visual one and this system can only work if it can detect the lanes using a camera or other technology.
Some BMW models can act on behalf of the driver and correct the cars steering to make sure it stays in the middle of the current lane.
Forward Collision Detection Off
A warning light on the dashboard showing 2 cars with a star symbolizing a crash with the word "OFF" underneath would suggest that the forward collision detection system is turned off.
If you have not turned off the system yourself then it is advised you visit a trained mechanic or BMW dealership to fix this safety feature.
Key-Fob Detected Indicator
A symbol of a key surrounded by waves on your dashboard could be to let you know that the car's key-fob has been detected.
If the car has a key-less system fitted then this indicator will let you know that you are now able to start your car.
Adaptive Cruise Control Warning
A speedometer and car with an exclamation mark warning could be for the adaptive cruise control system reporting a fault.
This system uses radars and/or cameras to monitor the traffic in front of the car and adapt the speed to follow it.
If this warning light has appeared then try restarting the car to see if it resists and if it persists seek a trained mechanic or BMW dealership.
Forward Collision Detection Warning
A warning showing 2 cars following each other with an exclamation point and arrow beneath one of them could be for the forward collision detection system.
The system is trying to tell you that it has detected a situation where a potential collision may occur and is responding to it through adjusting the brakes, suspension and seatbelts.
If you are seeing this warning light stick on persistently then seek the help of a trained mechanic or BMW dealership.
Seat Belt Reminder
A picture of a passenger with a band across them displayed in front of a red light indicates that a passenger has not correctly attached their seatbelt.
This system works by detecting a passenger based on the weight on a seat so if you have any shopping or luggage on a seat then that may be what's setting it off.
An audio alert usually comes on too once the car is in motion.
Engine Temperature Warning
If you see a collection of waves with a thermometer floating above displayed with a red backing light then your car is telling you the engine is too hot.
The waves represent the coolant in the engine which is usually what is measured in terms of temperature.
The cause behind this can vary from the engine being pushed too hard to a leak or malfunction.
You must pull over and allow the engine to cool down, if the problem persists seek professional help from BMW or a trained mechanic.
Transmission Oil Overheat Warning
If you are being shown a red warning in the dashboard that looks like a thermometer in a wavy circle (or maybe flower petals) then your transmission oil is too hot.
This can be caused by the oil maybe needing replacing as it's not doing its job properly or the transmission in your BMW being pushed too hard.
Pull over as soon as possible to allow the oil to cool down before setting off again.
If the problem continues then seek help from a trained mechanic or BMW dealership.
Oil Temperature Warning
If you see an oil can with a thermometer floating above it then it is most likely your car telling you the oil in the engine is too hot.
This indicator is typically only used for performance BMW models that expect the driver to push them hard.
The cause behind this could be from heavy acceleration or in worst cases a loss of oil.
As it is a red light you must pull over and allow the engine to cool down. If it persists then seek help from a mechanic.
Master Warning Light
A triangle warning symbol with an exclamation mark in the center is typically used to indicate an issue with stability control.
If the warning comes on only for a few seconds then it could be your car telling you that you momentarily lost traction and the car was acting to fix this.
If you find the warning light stays on even after restarting your car seek help from a BMW dealership or trained mechanic.
Hybrid Ready Indicator
A green box with the word "READY" inside of it on a BMW dashboard most probably means that the hybrid system is ready to be used.
The batteries will have sufficient charge to run the motors and allow the car to run in electric mode.
Fog Lamp Indicator
If you see a semi-circle next to a bunch of wavy lines then it would suggest that your fog lamps are turned on.
When you activate your main lights these additional lights will be visible too in an attempt to help you see in foggy conditions.
If you need to switch them off the control will most likely be near your steering wheel and lights.