The electronic parking brake provides drivers with additional support when vehicles must stop on steep hills. When its components malfunction, a warning message displays to BMW drivers.
Some drivers can also experience a failure of the electronic parking brake when under manual control.
Several reasons could be responsible for this failure, although five common problems are often seen with modern BMW models.
- The electronic parking brake motor failed or jammed.
- A miscommunication occurred between the switches and the electronic parking brake module.
- The gear stick selector or brake pedal switch failed.
- An electrical fault occurred with the actuator or module.
- The cables for the parking brake have corroded.
BMW Electronic Parking Brake Malfunction
The BMW electronic parking brake malfunction can display on the iDrive system for several reasons. Two common problems involve an open fuse or unexpectedly low system voltage. When these issues occur, a trouble code gets noted by the onboard computer to show the service parking brake message.
Several BMW models come equipped with electronic parking brakes. If you have a 745, 750, 760, X5, or X6 series, knowing how to deal with a malfunction of this system can help you get back on the road faster.
Although it is an intermediate repair to do at home, the DIY cost is minimal. It takes the average person about two hours or less to resolve the electronic parking brake malfunction issue.
When you see the yellow parking brake failure light appear on your dashboard, right next to the speedometer, the most common cause of the problem is the actuator. It’s also called the EMF module.
The parking brake actuator is mounted near the trunk of most BMW vehicles. When this component fails, you’ll see the yellow Park warning stay on at all times – not just when the brake is engaged.
You may see one or more symptoms develop with your BMW when an electronic parking brake malfunction occurs. Here are the signs to watch for while operating the vehicle.
- The parking brake light doesn’t turn off, even when it is disengaged and the vehicle is moving.
- You see an orange brake light on when starting the vehicle.
- The manual release of your parking brake isn’t working as expected.
- You cannot turn the automatic brake off or on.
- The yellow park light stays on continuously.
- You receive fault code 600D or 600E when evaluating the system.
- You see the electronic parking brake malfunction warning appear on the iDrive screen.
When you experience one or more of those symptoms, it may be necessary to reset the system. You can take several steps at home to clear the error code and restore functionality to your BMW.
How to Fix the BMW Electronic Parking Brake Warning
The easiest way to correct the electronic parking brake malfunction on BMW vehicles is to complete a soft reset.
You’ll need to press and hold the parking pedal to begin the soft reset. Next, turn on the ignition. After that, you’ll press and hold the parking brake button for five seconds.
Those three steps resolve issues that occur when data points tell the sensors or computer that something is wrong when there isn’t an issue present. It clears the warning, and you should experience normal operations after.
If the soft reset doesn’t work, here are some other options you can try at home to get your BMW working as it did before.
1. Remove the Parking Brake Fuse
The electronic reset might require you to take the fuse out of the vehicle for it to initiate. You can find it in the fuse box located in the trunk.
When checking the fuse chart alignment, look for the option marked as a P. It’s typically fuse 10, 94, or 129 for BMW vehicles, but it could be any of them. You’ll need to verify which one it is on the diagram.
The fuse needs to stay out for at least ten minutes for the reset to occur. After reinstalling it, turn on your vehicle to see if the electronic parking brake malfunction disappears.
If it does, you can return to normal driving conditions. Should it persist, try another option to reset the issue.
2. Disconnect the Battery
Another way to disengage power from the vehicle’s system is to disconnect the battery. You can achieve this result by removing the negative terminal from its power source.
The battery should remain disconnected for at least 15 minutes to reset the electronic parking brake malfunction warning.
After you reconnect the battery, you’ll need to reset most of your comfort settings, including seat memory and radio presets.
3. Read the Fault Codes
If you haven’t figured out what is causing the electronic parking brake malfunction at this stage, you’ll need to determine the error codes that the system is generating to display the warning. BMW faults aren’t readable with a standard OBD-II scanner, so you’ll need one that offers compatibility with the automaker’s systems.
The AUTOPHIX 7910 is a full systems diagnostic tool that provides OBD-II and BMW compatibility. This feature combination provides the most versatility and flexibility, especially for those who own different makes and models.
This scanning tool works with all BMW vehicles built after 1996. You’ll find it is very easy to use. Just plug it into the appropriate receptacle (often found on the driver’s side, under the steering wheel), go to the BMW section on the menu screen, and follow the prompts to read the error code.
You can reset other faults or messages that display on the iDrive screen with the AUTOPHIX 7910, including the reminders to change your oil.
It’s not just the electronic parking brake problem you can diagnose with this BMW scanner. It lets you find and clear the codes from all major systems, including the ABS, SAS, SRS, and TPMS.
You receive everything you need to get started right away in the box, and the product is backed by a 24-month warranty.
You may need to review the codes from the DSC, ABS, or a full system scan to find the information required to correct the electronic parking brake malfunction warning.
4. Tighten the Connections
If you see the yellow BMW park light staying on while operating the vehicle, you might experience the signs and symptoms of electronic parking brake failure without getting an error code on your scanner.
This issue typically occurs when one or more of the following problems has developed with your car.
- The parking brake actuator has malfunctioned or broken, causing the gear to stop engaging or disengaging. Since it can be a mechanical error, the codes don’t always trigger.
- A weak battery can stop the parking brake from releasing on BMW vehicles. There can be other electrical problems in the car if this issue occurs, including unexpected stalls or problems with the lights. You’d want to replace or charge the battery to correct this concern.
- Loose connections can cause the system to stop working as expected. A single corroded wire can create intermittent electronic parking brake errors to display.
- Software updates are periodically required at the dealership. If you’ve been experiencing ongoing issues in this area, it might be necessary to give everything an update to clear the problem.
The actuator is a common failure point for BMW vehicles. If you open the old one and install the new part, the job is doable at home.
Steps to Follow to Replace an Electronic Parking Brake Actuator
If you don’t want to pay the dealership the amount they’ve quoted to you to repair your actuator problem, the steps to follow to do this work yourself are relatively straightforward.
First, you’ll need to acquire the parking brake actuator.
It comes with a control unit that’s specific to your model, such as the A-Premium Parking Brake Actuator for 2007-2013 E71 and E72, along with a few others.
Once you have the part, you can follow these steps to work on clearing the warning.
- You’ll need to take your tire off, remove the brake caliper, and pull off the rotor to expose the emergency brake shoes. Use a hydraulic lift to raise the vehicle to an appropriate height after loosening the lug nuts on the wheel. Brace with a jack stand instead of leaving it on the jack.
- You’ll see two spring screws that need to be removed.
- After taking that step, you’ll need to release the adjusting screw at the bottom of the assembly.
- Wiggle the shoes apart from the bottom by removing the springs.
- You’ll need to get the electronic parking brake cable to release. It can be sticky, so it may require pressure from a flathead screwdriver to generate enough leverage to produce results.
- After releasing the cables, you’ll have a little play to pull them through the trunk to remove them from the actuator.
- At this point, you can open the actuator casing to remove the cables.
- Disengage the malfunctioning parts, then replace them with the new ones to clear the error message you’re receiving.
- Reassemble the components in reverse to bring your vehicle back to a drivable condition.
FAQ About the Electronic Parking Brake Malfunction on BMWs
Since the electronic parking brake malfunction is a relatively common error that drivers see, it is only natural to have a few questions about this problem when it develops. Here are the answers you need.
Why Can’t I See a Fault Code on My BMW?
If you encounter a parking brake issue without a fault code, you’ll need to see if you’re using a standard OBD-II scanner or one programmed for BMW error codes.
If you use the AUTOPHIX 7910, you have a tool that provides both supports. You just need to ensure it is on the appropriate setting.
Where Is the BMW Parking Brake?
You’ll need to get into the trunk to find the parking module for BMW vehicles. It’s toward the front of that space, tucked in behind the last row of seats.
Some models have the parking brake located under the trunk near the rear differential.
Do I Need to Program the BMW Parking Module?
You don’t need to program the parking module update for BMW vehicles. Your computer and software will read the new equipment as if it were the older product that triggered the warning.
The electronic parking brake malfunction warning or error code will not disappear until after you clear them with a BMW scanner.
Why Did the Error Appear After Changing My Brakes?
If you replace the rear brake pads on some BMWs, the parking light can illuminate. Try to pump the pedal a few times to get it to turn off. You can also check fluid levels. After operating the system a few times, it should clear. If it doesn’t, you may have a faulty sensor or cable to find.
Do I Need to Repair a BMW Electronic Parking Brake Malfunction?
A parking brake malfunction is a critical fault when it doesn’t disengage for driving. If it stays in the off position, you can still park by engaging the gear or placing the automatic transmission in the “park” position. Do not attempt to drive a car with the parking brakes engaged.
My parking brake failed while my BMW was parked in my driveway. We live in a small cul de sac, and our driveway has a lot of pitch.
I like to back the vehicle into its spot, set the brake, and be ready for takeoff in the morning. Although it could be parked in the garage, my family uses that space as our entertainment area.
The brake got stuck in the on position. There was no legitimate way to move it, including for a tow, because of its pitch. I forced a forward roll, got it parked on the street, and discovered the actuator was the problem.
It took me about three hours to complete the work, but in my defense, it was raining.
Some drivers may not need an immediate repair with their electronic parking brake malfunction. If the light stays on, you’ll need to think about when and where to correct this situation.
You can get it to the dealership or a trusted mechanic, but the work isn’t so hard that you can’t do it yourself.