Guide to BMW Warning Lights: What Do They Mean?

November 26th, 2021 by

Do you know what the 68 warning lights on your BMW mean?

Every BMW is quality-engineered and carefully designed to do the BMW name proud, and while unexpected issues on the road aren’t common, it’s important to be prepared on time. Download our complete guide of 68 dashboard symbols and warning lights and their meaning, and drive safer and more confident today. If you notice that one of your warning lights is red, orange, or yellow, then do yourself a favor and schedule an appointment with our service department today. And if you have a MINI Cooper with warning lights activated, then we have a solution for you at MINI of Escondido that will get your back on the road with an array of premium features.

Here is what your BMW warning lights mean:

BMW warning light symbols can indicate a variety of things: that immediate service is required, that service is required soon, or that a simple DIY fix is needed. While you can download the complete list above, here are a few examples for you. While most of the warning lights are associated with regular ongoing maintenance, we are big supporters of you and want to help you service your car or SUV on your own if that is your preference.

If you have any questions about warning lights and corresponding warning symbols, and what they could mean, please call our BMW service center and discuss how we can help you service your car or complete your service needs at the shop. If you need regular service in our out of warranty, please call in advance and allow one of our BMW service advisors to assist you. These are high quality, luxury vehicles, and they are most likely your prized possessions, so let’s care for them together.

Empty or Low Fuel

You have approximately 30 miles before you completely run out of fuel. Stop by a Poway gas station for a fill-up, as driving too long on low fuel can damage your fuel system.

Tire Pressure Monitor

If this light is triggered, it means that one or more of your tires is underinflated. If you see a yellow light, the tire pressure is about 10% low on air, while a red light indicates rapid deflation has occurred.

Oil Can

This symbol means your vehicle is due for an oil change soon. This is an essential part of regular maintenance, and not addressing it can cause severe engine damage.

Light Bulb

If this symbol comes on, then one or more external lights are out or experiencing an issue. If the warning symbol is still on after you change out the bulbs, further investigation at a service center might be needed.


Your engine is getting too hot and potentially overheating; this can be both dangerous and damaging to your engine. If you aren’t near a BMW service center, we recommend you safely bring your car to a stop so your engine can cool down, and then visiting a service center as soon as possible.


When this warning light flashes or stays on, you will want to have your vehicle serviced immediately to have the powertrain system checked, as it means there is an issue with your engine or its components.

Dynamic Stability Control

This light isn’t one to worry about too much–it indicates that the traction control system has been engaged to regain control on a slippery surface. You can learn more about this feature in your owner’s manual.

Service Vehicle at Our BMW Service Department

If this light is yellow, it means your BMW will be due for service soon. If your BMW becomes overdue for service the light will turn red. At this point, we highly recommend a service appointment. If your dashboard warning light has been on that long, it’s imperative you schedule service with our BMW service department before something critical happens and costs become increasingly difficult to bear. We always have service specials, so when you schedule service, ask what is available to help reduce costs and care for your car. When you bring your vehicle in for service, take a few minutes and go over the icon chart with your service advisor and glean any service tips you can to help your car or SAV last as long as possible, and avoid future issues with your check engine light or dash warning lights.

If your warning lights do not go off, then it’s time to complete your service needs at BMW of Escondido.

If you have any more questions, contact visit your local BMW dealer service center or tire center and get help from our certified technicians. Before you bring your car in, be sure to check our rotating service specials and parts specials to get a great deal on your next visit to BMW of Escondido! We want to make sure we can get your vehicle repaired and you can continue enjoying your day in the California sun or a night out to a Carlsbad restaurant. You can also learn how to check your transmission fluid.

Schedule Service

Included in the Downloadable Icon Chart

Some of these warning lights will appear on your BMW dashboard when you first start the car, along with how many miles you have until your next scheduled service at our auto repair shop.

Basic Light Guide

Red warning lights are associated with danger, and there is a serious situation which must be checked out before continuing (especially if they are a part of essential safety features). Orange and yellow warning lights are less critical, but something is wrong and should be resolved as soon as possible. Green or blue warning lights indicate that your vehicle has a technological feature enabled. Here are the dashboard symbols and their priority level:

Download Our BMW Guide for Free

  1. Front fog lamp is on.
  2. Rear fog lamp is on.
  3. Turn signal is on.
  4. High-beam headlights are turned on.
  5. Short-beam and stop lights are on.
  6. Parking, brake, rear fog, signal, interior lighting or license plate lamps are faulty.
  7. Outer brake lamp indicates that the bulb is faulty.
  8. Malfunction of the headlight control system.
  9. Adaptive light system warning light.
  10. Short-beam headlights are on.
  11. Battery charge warning light, indicating dead battery, battery fault, or charging malfunction.
  12. Faulty exterior lamp.
  13. Overdrive Off warning light, meaning that the drive system is faulty or has been turned off manually.
  14. Body control module for lighting or other electrical problem, or a communication problem between traction control modules.
  15. Press the brake pedal for the engine to start.
  16. Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) Warning Light: The presence of this fault lamp in diesel vehicles means that the diesel particulate filter is filled with excess air.
  17. Catalytic Convertor Warning Light: This auto warning lamp means that the catalyst system is faulty.
  18. The water level in the fuel filter has increased.
  19. The engine air filter is dirty or old.
  20. Engine Temperature Warning Light: The engine coolant is overheated. Stop the car immediately and wait for the engine to cool when the warning light flashes.
  21. Indicator light meaning the vehicle engine fuel filter is dirty or faulty.
  22. The fuel level has decreased.
  23. Oil Pressure Warning Lamp: The engine oil pressure has dropped and should be checked before proceeding.
  24. Check Engine or Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL): Service required immediately.
  25. Decrease in engine power, meaning the computer that controls the engine has limited engine power output and needs to be examined.
  26. Change Engine Oil, the engine oil life is full and the oil must be changed.
  27. The gas fill cap is not properly tightened.
  28. DPF Light (Diesel Particulate Filter warning)
  29. DEF Light (for diesel vehicles): The diesel exhaust fluid level is low.
  30. The brake pads are worn. It also lights if the brake pad is replaced and the brake lining sensor is not changed (only for vehicles with brake lining sensor).
  31. This warning light is only available on automatic transmission vehicles, indicating that you must press the brake pedal to operate the automatic shift lever.
  32. Air suspension warning light.
  33. Suspension system failure.
  34. Transmission fault: It is recommended that to have the vehicle towed or driven at a slow speed to the nearest BMW service facility.
  35. Gearbox is operating at an improper temperature, and gearbox oil level and engine coolant level should be checked.
  36. Outside temperature is below 37°F or 3°C and there may be black ice on the roads. This symbol may also be a snowflake inside a triangle depending on your model.
  37. The light and rain sensors are not communicating with the control unit.
  38. The defrost function of the windshield is active.
  39. The defogger on the rear window is active.
  40. The rain sensor is active.
  41. The automatic window wipers are active.
  42. In diesel vehicles, the engine glow plugs are warming up and that the engine should not be run until this light is turned off. Should the heating boiler malfunction, white smoke may emerge from the exhaust and the heating bulbs must be replaced.
  43. The roads may be snowy and slippery.
  44. Track distance warning sign.
  45. The speed limit set by the limiter has been exceeded.
  46. Cruise control is active.
  47. Lane changed without indicators.
  48. One of the doors is open.
  49. One of the doors, including trunk and bonnet, are open, and should be closed before driving or parking the car.
  50. Seat belt is not attached.
  51. The tire pressure is low or there is a problem in the system.
  52. The key is not in the car, or the key is not identifiable.
  53. Parking brake active. Best done by putting the vehicle in Neutral, activating the parking brake to load the transmission, and then putting in Park.
  54. Parking assistance sensors active.
  55. Steering lock warning, vehicle must be towed to the nearest BMW service facility.
  56. Airbag and seat belt system defective.
  57. ECO indicator showing you are driving economically.
  58. Indicates an issues with the hand brake, low brake fluid, brake fluid leak, or brake pads have completed their life cycle.
  59. Airbag system is off.
  60. ABS warning light. Drive at medium speed and avoid braking when possible. Service required.
  61. Cruise control is active.
  62. Engine hood is open.
  63. Luggage compartment is open.
  64. Faulty start system.
  65. Windshield washer fluid needs to be filled.
  66. The key system is locked and requires a key equipped with the appropriate transponder to restart.
  67. Traction Control or ESP: The traction control/anti-slip or electronic stability system in use. Conditions are slippery.
  68. Warning indicating ESP malfunction: There is a problem with the vehicle traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system.
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