What Can Cause A Drivetrain To Malfunction?

drivetrain malfunction blog image

A drivetrain malfunction occurs when a malfunction is detected by the car’s engine computer. The malfunction is either in the engine or transmission. Your car may alert you to this problem, showing the error “Drivetrain Malfunction” and warning you to drive moderately.

Drivetrain Malfunction Causes

What causes drivetrain malfunction? A drivetrain malfunction happens when a component of the drivetrain fails to operate correctly. The following is a list of potential reasons why your car is experiencing a drivetrain malfunction. 

Spark Plugs

Old or overused spark plugs may be affecting how your engine functions. An old spark plug in your car can be inefficient, resulting in the warning message that is appearing on your car. You’ll want to schedule an appointment to replace your car’s spark plugs to ensure that your car works properly. This is key to preventing further damage.

Ignition Coil Failure

Similarly, if an engine coil is too old it will not provide enough electricity to the spark plugs. This results in bad sparks, with such symptoms as rough idling and power loss. 

If the engine coil is overly exposed to heat or vibration, it may cause it to fail as well. For the best performance of ignition coils, it is wise to have an auto repair expert replace them every 20,000 to 25,000 miles.

Fuel Injectors

If the fuel injectors are damaged or clogged, it can cause bad combustion resulting in power loss. The role of fuel injectors is to inject fuel into the car’s combustion chamber, making them important to your car’s functioning.

All the fuel injectors in your car should be replaced at the same time, and you should schedule a replacement at an auto repair shop every 50,000 to 100,000 miles to keep them in prime shape.

Faulty Fuel Pump

A faulty fuel pump may be the cause of your car troubles. If the fuel pump fails, it can result in an inconsistent fuel supply. This can trigger a loss in power and the drivetrain malfunction.

A fuel pump issue may result from low fuel or from fuel contaminants. In this case, you may want to have a car repair service done so that the problem can be identified and properly fixed.

Octane Rating

Another fuel-related problem that could cause drivetrain malfunction is poor fuel quality. In high-quality cars such as BMWs, it is best to use fuel that has a 93-octane rating or higher to prevent car drivetrain malfunction.

What to do when facing a BMW drivetrain malfunction?

Now that we’ve answered the question of what is drivetrain malfunction, an important next step is to determine what to do when facing drivetrain malfunction. Here are some steps that you should take:

  1. Restart the engine immediately after the drivetrain malfunction pops up 
  2. Check the engine, looking for anything that seems to be damaged or leaking
  3. Use a scanner (like an OBD II scanner) to diagnose the problem 

Can you drive with a drivetrain malfunction? It is better to pull over right after receiving the drivetrain malfunction warning and proceed with the steps above. By continuing to drive the car, you can cause worse damage.

How To Prevent A Drivetrain Malfunction

To prevent experiencing a drivetrain malfunction, you can take the following steps: 

  • Have an annual car inspection to ensure that your spark plugs and fuel pump are working correctly
  • Replace ignition coils every 20,000 to 25,000 miles
  • Replace fuel injectors every 50,000 to 100,000 miles
  • Use fuel that has a 93-octane rating or higher


To avoid drivetrain malfunction, it is important to keep up with different parts of your car to ensure that they are all functioning properly. If drivetrain malfunction does occur, make sure you pull over as soon as possible and inspect the engine. This not only will protect your car from further damage but will also keep you safe when this malfunction occurs.