Fix BMW not start after drivetrain malfunction message

For fault message “drivetrain malfunction”, before we start our topic today, let’s take a look at two BMW owners who have experienced this fault. One owner is due to the knock sensor was damaged (the wire was bitten by a mouse) and the other is because the oil tank opening was not properly closed after the oil was added. These two cases illustrate the fault caused by the hardware. The two cases we are sharing in this post are caused by software.


Case 1

Vehicle information

Country Specifications: EUR

Car model: 118i F52

Drive device: FWD

Engine: B38

Displacement: 1.5 T

Assembly country: CHN

Production date: 2017-03-01

Total mileage: 18537 km


Fault symptom

"Drivetrain malfunction" is prompted during driving. After that, the engine will automatically stop, the starter will turn but cannot start.



Repair process:

1. Check the fuel gauge to show the amount of oil: two small cells


2. Connect ISTA with car via OBD port, there are multiple fault codes of low oil pressure


3. Unplug the oil supply pipe, no gasoline is ejected。Check the details of the fault code and find that 0L is displayed on the left and right oil tanks


4. Since the fuel tank is empty, why does it show that there are two cells oil remaining? Instrument cluster software problem?Instrument cluster internal fault?

The current I-Level version is F056-17-03-506, so program the vehicle to the latest version first. After the completion, check the fuel gauge to show no oil. Fill up the tank, drive test and no fault.


By searching the information, we found that this problem may occur in the following cars:

Production date of all BMW and MINI models from 2017-03-01 to 2018-01-01.

The solution is to upgrade the I-Level to XXX-17-11-540 or above by programming.


Case 2

Vehicle information

Car model: 5 series 520Li

Engine: N52

Chassis: F18

Year: 2014


Fault symptom:

Car’s power disappeared, and the screen continuously popped up a "drivetrain malfunction" warning.


Repair process:

1. Connect ISTA to read error code, It can be seen that most of the fault codes point to a clear problem. The signals sent by DME / DDE cannot be received by the ICM.

2. Is it DME(Digital Motor Electronics) module damaged? From a large number of maintenance cases, DME is not so prone to damage, so we decided to study further to find the source of the fault.

3. By analyzing BMW's control unit tree, DME belongs to 3 networks at the same time, namely FLEXRAY, PT_CAN and PT_CAN2. If the DME is really damaged and the ICM cannot receive the signal, then in the FLEXRAY network where DME and ICM are, it should not only be that ICM cannot receive the signal, but DSC and SZL also cannot receive DME signal at the same time which should be alarm.



4. Review the fault information diagnosed again and confirm that only the ICM is reporting an error that no signal from the DME was received.

5. We read the programming data information of DME and ICM and found that the latest programming date of DME turned out to be 2013, while the programming dates of other control units were 2017. This shows that DME is actually not programmed in last programming process, and it was skipped.

6. The cause of the fault is the software of DME does not match the ICM software. Very easy to solve it, just update program the DME software, then drive test, the fault is gone.


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