Home » What Is the Auto H Button Below the Parking Brake Button?
What Is the Auto H Button Below the Parking Brake Button?

What Is the Auto H Button Below the Parking Brake Button?

“Auto H” for a BMW vehicle represents a feature called “Auto Hold.” It sets and releases the parking brake, simplifying a manual process that most roadworthy cars have today.

In the past, the parking brake was often in the center console. The driver would lift it to engage, then press a button to have it disengage.

Modern vehicles place the parking brake command to the left of the clutch or brake pedal. It requires a significant leg movement to reach this small pedal, but that design keeps it from being accidentally engaged.

What Is the Auto H Button Below the Parking Brake Button?

The “Auto H” button below the parking brake button is an automatic hold feature. It keeps the parking brake engaged while releasing the brakes until the driver presses on the accelerator. It maintains this hold for a maximum of about five seconds in most vehicles to start on slopes without backing up.

The automatic holding feature for the parking brake is available on several makes and models, but it is most prominent with BMW.

Parking brakes work to avoid having your vehicle from rolling forward or back after parking it. Although you can angle your wheels to the curb to prevent most motion, the brake is necessary for steep inclines.

When you have the Steptronic transmission with your BMW, the system automatically applies and releases the brake.

This technology makes it easier to handle stop-and-go traffic or prevent unwanted movement.

If you want to activate the automatic holding feature, the BMW must be in a drive-ready state.

Press the button on the middle console. You should see the LEDs illuminate. Watch the instrument cluster to see the green indicator light that shows the “Auto H” function.

After the brake is applied, the vehicle secures itself from rolling once you see that light flash.

When you’re ready to drive away, press the accelerator pedal. The parking brake releases automatically, turning off the “Auto H” indicator lamp. You know that it isn’t engaged as soon as the light is no longer illuminated.

When the vehicle is held in place by the “Auto H” feature and the driver exits the vehicle or turns off the drive-ready state, the parking brake automatically applies. You’ll see the indicator light switch from green to red in that circumstance.

How to Activate the “Auto H” Feature on BMW Vehicles

If you want to activate the “Auto H” mode for your BMW, you only need to press the appropriate button on your center console. Once you take this step, the indicator light illuminates to let you know that the feature is ready to work.

When you’re ready to disable the “Auto H” feature, you can press the accelerator pedal or use the cancelation command in your menu settings. The light will switch off, communicating to you that it is no longer engaged.

The best time to use the “Auto H” feature is when you’re stopped at a red light or dealing with heavy traffic.

Drivers still need to have a foot close to the pedals while using this technology to ensure quick responses are available if unexpected events develop.

You can also use the “Auto H” feature for parking in difficult situations or where slopes apply.

Three primary benefits are available to drivers when they use the automatic holding tech with their BMW.

  • It prevents the vehicle from rolling when stopped on a hill, either while parking or during a stoppage in traffic.
  • The feature allows a driver to take pressure off their foot when waiting for a light to turn green or restart after being parked on an incline.
  • It is easily disengaged by pressing the button, touching the brake, or engaging the accelerator.

When drivers know how to engage the “Auto H” feature correctly, it adds a dynamic element to the driving experience that works to keep everyone safer on the roads.

If it is not used as intended, unexpected consequences or additional risks could develop.

What Are the Risk Factors to Consider When Using the “Auto H” Feature?

Although the “Auto H” feature in BMWs is quite helpful, it can also lead to increased risks in certain areas for some drivers. Here’s a closer look at the potential negatives that might occur when using this technology to enhance your experience behind the wheel.

1. Increases Accident Risks

BMW (and most driving experts) do not recommend using the “Auto H” feature while driving. If you engage the brake at high speeds, it is possible to lose control of the vehicle.

This technology can also significantly reduce the time you have to react to potential hazards on the road.

2. Lessens Driving Skills

New safety features and automatic driving tech is fun to have, but it also creates an over-reliance on technology when behind the wheel. The “Auto H” feature is no exception.

Drivers that use the “Auto H” constantly are often less likely to use their mirrors as intended, pay less attention to the road, and lose peripheral awareness.

3. More Mistakes

Since the “Auto H” feature has delays before full implementation, there is a higher risk that a mistake could occur.

The goal is to have drivers use this feature only when their surroundings indicate it is safe to engage it.

4. Risk of Vehicle Failure

When drivers use the “Auto H” consistently, it can cause the technology to wear out. If that happens unexpectedly, there could be a need to troubleshoot the BMW in less than comfortable spaces or environments.

If you encounter a problem with this feature, here are the three steps you can take to get everything functioning again.

  • Check to see that the vehicle is in the correct mode. You cannot engage the “Auto H” feature unless you have the car in Neutral or Park. It automatically disables when you’re in any other gear.
  • Review the Mirrors menu within the iDrive system. The setting for the “Auto H” feature must be turned on for it to operate. If you see it disengaged, turn it on to restore functionality.
  • Check to see if the height sensor is working as expected. This component is a small black box with two wires sticking out of it right behind the front wheels. You can test to see if it is malfunctioning by disconnecting a wire and starting the vehicle. If it doesn’t automatically lower, it works. Should it start lowering itself, you’ll need to replace this component.

If you’ve tried these troubleshooting steps without success, it may be necessary to visit your local dealership for additional troubleshooting.

When Do I Need to Replace My BMW Brake Pads?

Most BMWs need their brake pads changed after 50,000 miles. Several factors can dictate that this service be completed sooner, ranging from the materials used to how hard you drive.

If you engage the “Auto H” frequently, it could be possible that the lifespan of your brake pads could be less than expected.

The most common symptom of a worn-out brake pad is a squealing sound. Some drivers report grinding or scraping when stopping. Once you hear anything unusual, it’s a good idea to swap out the brakes.

You might experience extended stopping or less functionality with the “Auto H” feature. Your pedal might pulsate or press further down when trying to slow the vehicle. If it takes longer to stop than before, it’s time to look at this issue.

The steering wheel might have vibrations or “thumping” when pressing the brake pedal if pad failure is likely to occur.

When it’s time to change my brakes, I like to update the rotors at the same time to ensure I’ve got a smooth driving experience. That’s when I turn to Callahan products.

They offer a guaranteed fit for their BMW brakes, delivering the stopping power you need while having a warrantied performance that meets or exceeds OEM ratings.

The Callahan sets include ceramic pads, stainless steel rotors, hardware, and sensors to complete the work.

Should I Be Using the “Auto H” Button While Driving?

The “Auto H” feature on BMW cars and others allows the vehicle to remain stationary without requiring drivers to press the brake pedal. That will enable drivers to disengage with their pedals during extended stoppages while remaining engaged with their environments.

I’ve found that the “Auto H” feature is helpful for parking, but I’m not as much of a fan of it for stop-and-go driving.

I’m regularly stuck in traffic as part of my daily professional responsibilities. Interstate lanes can stop quickly and restart unexpectedly, which means you’ve got to be on your toes.

If you use the “Auto H” feature, the brake lights eventually turn off, which means someone might not recognize you’ve stopped.

Our driveway is on a hill, so I use the brake function daily to ensure the vehicle doesn’t roll.

I have never had issues with the “Auto H” feature failing, but anything is possible. If you’re unsure of what repair is necessary, I highly recommend consulting with your local dealership to get some ideas.


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