Battery discharge increase is a warning sign in BMW vehicles that indicates a low battery and tells you that the car uses more energy than the alternator can produce.
If you get this warning message on your dashboard, don’t panic! It is usual for this to happen to BMW vehicles. All you need is the proper knowledge to handle a problem like this.
- Here Is What Battery Discharge Increased Means On Your BMW
- Has the Car Been Sitting for a Long Time?
- What Are the Possible Causes?
- Is It Safe to Drive Your BMW with a Battery Discharge Warning?
We’ve compiled a helpful guide on Battery Discharge Increase on BMW, possible causes and symptoms, and answers to some of the frequently asked questions concerning this problem.
Here Is What Battery Discharge Increased Means On Your BMW
Battery discharge increased is a warning message, mainly in BMW vehicles. However, the message might also appear on other cars as a battery discharge warning. It shows that the vehicle’s battery is getting low, and your vehicle needs time to recharge the battery. Sometimes the battery gets drained faster than the alternator can charge it; this is where the warning message comes up.
When too many electrical components drain the battery while driving, the battery discharge increases. The components are draining the battery faster than the alternator can charge it. Electrical components like heaters or air conditioners, charging ports, and more can contribute to this situation.
A warning message like this appears mostly during extreme conditions, where you drive a shorter distance but rely so much on many electrical components in the vehicle. The short distance will not allow the battery to charge, and you also consume an insane amount of electric power, draining the battery quicker than it is being charged.
Has the Car Been Sitting for a Long Time?
It is normal to have the battery discharge increase warning, mainly when your vehicle has not been used for a while. It means your vehicle’s battery has lost its charge while not being used. However, the warning message should go away after driving your car for a while.
Your vehicle can lose charge if not driven for a while because of a parasitic drain. Some devices or components in the car drain the battery, even when the vehicle is not in use. When this happens, when you turn on your vehicle, this warning message will come up.
When you properly drive the vehicle for a long distance, the warning message should go, but if it does not, the problem might be more complicated. In this case, your battery might be too old or could be damaged, and you will need to get a new one.
What Are the Possible Causes?
Here are some of the most common causes of a Battery Discharge Increased warning on your BMW.
The most common cause of the battery discharge increased warning message is a weak battery. A weak battery will be unable to retain its full charge or charge fast enough, which will cause the battery to discharge energy and be unable to maintain the charge generated by the alternator.
In most cases, this happens with older batteries due to wear and tear. At this point, you need to get a battery replacement. No amount of charge will solve the battery issue. A new battery costs around $200, and most shops will install it for free.
Upgraded headlights/added extra lights to your car
Upgrading your headlights or adding more lights is a great way to improve your vehicle. Still, sometimes, it is essential to understand if your vehicle’s battery can power the lights comfortably. Many times the battery of your BMW can power the upgraded or added lights alongside other electric components.
The warning message will come when the lights drain more energy than the alternator can supply to the battery. In this case, the best thing to do is to replace the headlights with ones that the battery can comfortably power or reduce the added lights.
High-powered device plugged into the 12v cigarette outlet.
Another cause of this warning light is when you plug devices that require high voltage into the car’s power outlet. Many drivers don’t know that things they plug into their BMW outlet could drain the battery faster. So, they tend to plug items that consume too much energy, bringing up the warning sign.
It is important to understand that your vehicle only produces a limited amount of energy. Look at the voltage recommended for each outlet. This is written on the cover or close to it; do not plug any item above it.
If you see the warning message, please remove the plugged item and see if the message goes away.
Faulty IBS sensor
The IBS sensor plays a significant role in monitoring the battery’s condition. It does this by continually checking the status of the battery and providing necessary information about the state of charge, function, and health to the vehicle’s computer system.
When the battery IBS sensor becomes faulty, it either supplies wrong information about the state of the battery or does not supply information at all. With this, the vehicle’s computer system constantly detects something wrong with the battery, whereas it is the sensors. In turn, the computer system gives a warning message about the battery.
Problems like this are why you should always check sensor connections and wiring when a warning message comes up.
Parasitic current draw
Another common cause of the warning message is a parasitic current draw or drain. It happens when an electrical component or device drains the battery of energy, even when the vehicle is switched off. Some of the causes of the parasitic draw is lighting in the vehicle. When you do not properly close the doors or trunk, the lights may remain on and drain the energy from your vehicle’s battery.
Ensure that electronic devices like radio, headlights, indoor lights, and other electronic devices are switched off. If the problem persists, then you need to see a professional.
Driving in freezing weather also triggers this warning message. The cold temperature slows down the activity of the battery, and the alternator will be able to deliver less power than it should, resulting in a slow charge.
When your battery is exposed to extreme cold, the chemicals in your battery slow down. It will no longer be as active as it used to be, making it challenging to retain its charge and allowing it to drain faster. As a result of this, the ECM will trigger the warning message.
Related BMW Warning: What Does Low Beam Malfunction Warning Indicate?
Is It Safe to Drive Your BMW with a Battery Discharge Warning?
Driving a vehicle with an increased battery discharge is unsafe unless you drive it for 45 to 60 minutes at least. Driving for this long allows the alternator properly charge the battery. If you drive for a shorter distance, your vehicle might not come on again, leaving you in a difficult situation.
When the warning message comes up, it is essential that you take it seriously and you understand what to do. Below is a list of things you can do when the warning message comes up.
Allow the vehicle to idle
When you see the battery warning message, the vehicle must have enough time to recharge. As we know, the alternator is responsible for charging the battery and can only do so when the car is running. The best thing to do is drive long distances or leave your vehicle idle. However, be aware of idling laws in your state and ensure you have enough gas in the tank. If you forget the car idling for too long, check out our guide on what to do.
To ensure the battery is charged correctly, you should wait until the warning message goes away before turning off the engine.
Use a battery warmer
Batteries perform poorly in extreme conditions, which is why the message is more frequent during winter. Unlike electric cars with a heater for batteries, gas or diesel engines do not have this feature.
To solve this problem, you can use a battery warmer. The warmer is an insulated wrap for your battery during cold weather, which protects the battery from the cold by insulating it.
Use Battery Conditioner
Battery conditioner helps to restore the power in lead acid batteries. It focuses on eliminating sulfur buildup in batteries caused by continuously driving your vehicle for short distances.
Turn OFF electrical components
If you know that you will not be driving for long, you will need to find a way to reduce the battery’s load, allowing the alternator to charge it faster. You can turn off all electronic devices or equipment like radio, AC, etc.
Also, you will have to disconnect any device plugged into the power outlets. If you have extra headlights, you will have to disconnect that also. The battery cannot power the extra lights.
Related BMW warning: What Does Parking Lamp Malfunction Mean?
Turn off the start-stop feature
The start-stop feature in most modern BMW vehicles allows the vehicle to start or stop under certain conditions. What people need to know is that this feature can be energy-consuming. Turning off the feature can save energy and allow your battery to function better.
If you do all these, and the warning remains, it could be time to change the battery. A battery is meant to last between 2 to 6 years. Using a battery for more than four years could show signs that it is going bad and needs replacement. The warning message could be one of those signs.
Also, check other parts of the vehicle related to the battery’s proper functioning, like the alternator, alternator wiring, IBS sensor, and more, for damages.
Whenever you see the warning message battery discharge increase, you need to act fast to avoid being stuck in a difficult situation, like having a dead battery. Your BMW can charge itself with the help of the alternator, so keep driving or allow the vehicle to idle for between 30 to 60 minutes before turning off the car.
Mark is a senior editor for Mechanic Ask, creating tech-focused articles about diagnostics, tools, and new auto servicing methods. He attends industry shows to stay current. With a mechanical engineering degree, Mark is able to translate complex technical details into explanations understandable for shop owners and technicians. His articles help shops improve processes, reduce costs, and boost productivity.