BMW Active Kidney Grille Not Working: Solutions & Insights

Understanding BMW Active Kidney Grille

Purpose of Active Grille

The BMW Active Kidney Grille is found on various BMW models, designed as a system that improves engine cooling, aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency. The grille consists of bars and flaps in the lower air intake that automatically open when additional cooling air is required for the engine. This technology aims to strike a balance between providing cooling air and maintaining an aerodynamically efficient front profile.

Role in Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics play a crucial role in vehicle performance. The Active Kidney Grille contributes to improved aerodynamics by allowing the flaps to adjust based on speed, engine temperature, and external conditions. By reducing air resistance when the grille flaps are closed, the car can move more efficiently, resulting in better fuel economy and performance. In situations where the engine requires more cooling, the flaps automatically open, providing more airflow to the engine without compromising the vehicle’s overall stability.

Impact on Speed and MPG

The Active Kidney Grille technology has a positive impact on a BMW vehicle’s speed and MPG (miles per gallon). As the grille flaps close when not needed, they help to maintain smooth airflow around the vehicle, reducing drag and enabling it to reach higher speeds with less effort. This direct impact on aerodynamics contributes to the vehicle’s reduced fuel consumption, leading to improved fuel efficiency. By optimizing air intake and aerodynamics, the BMW Active Kidney Grille ensures vehicles adapt to various driving conditions and demands to achieve the best possible performance.

Differentiating BMW Models

Active Grille in BMW 330i xDrive

The BMW 330i xDrive features an active kidney grille that is designed to help regulate engine temperature by adjusting the airflow to the engine compartment. This mechanism helps improve aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, and overall performance. When functioning properly, the active grille shutters open and close based on the vehicle’s cooling needs.

G30 Model

The G30 model is part of the BMW 5 Series and also incorporates an active kidney grille. This feature is not limited to a specific trim level or model within the 5 Series, such as the M550. The G30 active grille is also intended to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency while providing optimal cooling to the engine.

M340i vs M550 Differences

The M340i and M550 are both performance-oriented models within the BMW lineup, with the M340i belonging to the 3 Series and the M550 to the 5 Series. Both models feature active kidney grilles, but they differ in a few key aspects.

The M340i is equipped with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine, while the M550 boasts a more powerful 4.4-liter V8 engine. The M550 also offers higher horsepower and torque output, translating to a more exhilarating driving experience. Both vehicles incorporate BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, ensuring optimal traction, stability, and agility on a variety of road surfaces.

In terms of design, the M340i and M550 have distinctively aggressive styling cues, such as larger air intakes, sportier exhaust outlets, and exclusive M Sport exterior elements. However, the M550 generally has a more refined and luxurious cabin to cater to the executive segment in the lineup.

Despite their differences, both models are equipped with advanced technology and features, including the BMW active kidney grille, which contributes to their impressive performance and efficiency.

Diagnosing Common Issues

Grille Not Opening or Closing

One of the common issues with BMW’s Active Kidney Grille is the failure to open or close properly. This might be due to mechanical issues, such as obstructions in the shutter mechanism or damage to the actuator motor. To diagnose this problem, visually inspect the grille for debris or damage, and ensure that the motor is functioning correctly.

Malfunction During Winter

During the winter months, the Active Kidney Grille may experience malfunctioning due to cold temperatures. For instance, the grille shutters may remain open all the time, even when starting the car after parking overnight in freezing weather1. To address this issue, it may be helpful to consult your BMW dealer for proper diagnostics and a potential fix for the problem.

Faulty Active Shutters

Another issue that may affect the performance of the Active Kidney Grille is faulty active shutters. These shutters can sometimes get stuck in the open position after driving, and may not close properly until the car is restarted 2. To diagnose this issue, you can enter the diagnostic mode by pressing the start button three times; if the shutters close during this process, then the issue lies with the active shutters. Consulting your BMW dealer for further assistance or possible replacement of the faulty components may be necessary.

Check Engine Light and Code Interpretation

A check engine light or check control message may appear in relation to the Active Kidney Grille. This could be due to one or more stored faults with the active air flaps behind the kidney grills 3. In some cases, the code “P05B0” may be displayed, indicating a malfunction within the active grill 4. To properly diagnose and resolve the issue, it’s essential to consult your BMW dealer who can interpret the code and recommend an appropriate course of action to address the problem.

Addressing Grille Failure

Warming Up the Vehicle

In some instances, BMW Active Kidney Grille may fail to work due to extremely cold weather conditions. When this happens, it is advisable to try warming up the vehicle prior to any further steps. Start by parking the car in a warmer environment or by letting the engine idle for an extended period of time. This may help the grille return to normal functioning once the temperature has increased.

Steps to Remove Active Grille Assembly

Should the issue persist, it is necessary to remove and inspect the active grille assembly. First, ensure the vehicle is parked safely and the engine is turned off. Then, follow these steps for removal:

  1. Open the hood and disconnect the battery to prevent any risk of electrical shock.
  2. Remove the front bumper cover by detaching the screws and clips holding it in place.
  3. Carefully disconnect any associated wiring or connectors from the active grille assembly.
  4. Locate the mounting points of the active grille assembly, and remove the securing screws or bolts.
  5. Gently remove the entire active grille assembly from the vehicle for further inspection or replacement.

Note: It is recommended to refer to the vehicle’s specific service manual for detailed instructions, as the process may vary depending on the model of the BMW.

Replacement Process

After inspecting the active grille assembly and identifying the issue, the necessary repairs or replacement can be carried out. If it is determined that a new active grille assembly is required, follow these steps:

  1. Acquire a compatible active grille assembly for the specific BMW model.
  2. Compare the new part with the removed assembly to ensure it matches in size, shape, and functionality.
  3. Reinstall the new active grille assembly in the same position as the previous one, securing it with the required screws or bolts.
  4. Reconnect any wiring or connectors that were previously disconnected.
  5. Carefully reattach the front bumper cover, ensuring that it is securely fastened with all clips and screws in place.
  6. Reconnect the vehicle’s battery and start the engine to confirm the correct functioning of the new active grille assembly.

By addressing the grille failure following these steps and precautions, it will ensure a safe and effective resolution to any issues related to the BMW Active Kidney Grille.

Dealing with Dealers and Warranty

Contacting BMW North America

If you’re experiencing issues with your BMW’s active kidney grille, it may be necessary to reach out to BMW North America for assistance. Dealers can sometimes be reluctant to address warranty claims, especially if they feel the issue isn’t significant enough. By contacting BMW North America directly, you can help ensure your concerns are heard and properly addressed.

Understanding the Warranty Process

When dealing with a warranty claim for your BMW’s active kidney grille, it’s important to understand the process and what to expect. According to BimmerPost, BMW has extended the warranty on this particular component to 15 years or 150,000 miles, so it should be a free fix within that timeframe.

Before taking your vehicle to the dealer, gather all necessary documentation, such as your warranty booklet and service records. This can help expedite the process and make it easier for the dealer to approve the repair. Additionally, it’s essential to be patient and persistent as the warranty process can sometimes be lengthy and complicated.

Loaner Car Availability

During the warranty repair of your BMW’s active kidney grille, you may wonder about the availability of a loaner car. This depends on the dealership’s policies, so it’s essential to inquire about this option during your initial discussion with the service department. Some dealers may offer a loaner car as part of their customer service, while others may not. If a loaner vehicle is not available, consider arranging alternative transportation, such as renting a car or using public transit, until your BMW is ready for pickup.

Comparing with Other Brands

BMW vs Porsche Active Grille

BMW and Porsche both implement advanced technology in their respective vehicles. Active Kidney Grilles from BMW are designed to improve air management and overall aerodynamics, while Porsche uses an Active Grille Shutter system for similar purposes. Although some BMW users have reported instances of active grille malfunction, it is important to note that technology in automobiles can experience occasional issues like any other industry.

Porsche’s Active Grille system also addresses the challenge of balancing aerodynamics and engine cooling. Instead of kidney-shaped shutters, Porsche deploys horizontal slats that adjust according to temperature and speed requirements. Both manufacturers demonstrate a commitment to efficiency and environmental stewardship through these innovations, though the implementation and design aesthetics differ considerably.

Toyota’s Approach to Active Grilles

In comparison to premium automakers like BMW and Porsche, Toyota adopts a more mainstream approach when it comes to active grille technology. However, Toyota still incorporates advanced features to improve engine cooling and performance. The brand’s focus is on optimizing fuel efficiency and ensuring the longevity of its vehicles by keeping engine temperatures stable.

Toyota’s implementation, although visually less striking than the distinctive BMW kidney grilles or Porsche’s aggressive vents, offers a practical solution for active aerodynamic management. Each manufacturer has set different priorities, shaping their respective active grille systems accordingly. While the specific designs and functionality of each active grille may vary, BMW, Porsche, and Toyota all strive for improving vehicle performance and efficiency.

Showcasing Automatic Active Grille

Operating in Different Conditions

The BMW Automatic Active Kidney Grille is a feature designed to balance the need for engine cooling with improved aerodynamics. With this in mind, the grille operates differently in various conditions to optimize airflow and maintain engine temperature. In heavy traffic conditions or under low-speed operation, the grille remains open to provide sufficient cooling for the engine.

In contrast, at higher speeds, the grille automatically closes, reducing air resistance and improving fuel efficiency. This is especially noticeable on highways or when cruising at higher speeds. The active kidney grille contributes to an optimal balance between cooling needs and aerodynamic efficiency, which enhances BMW’s reputation for designing high-performance vehicles.

From Park to Speed

The active kidney grille transitions from various stages of its operation based on the vehicle’s current driving conditions. When a BMW equipped with this technology is parked, the grille remains in a neutral position, neither opened nor closed, ensuring minimal obstruction to airflow. As the vehicle starts moving, the grille’s dynamic mechanism adjusts accordingly.

At low speeds or in stopped traffic, the grille opens to improve engine cooling and maintain a stable temperature. As the speed increases, the grille begins to close automatically, maximizing airflow and optimizing fuel economy. This effortless transition from park to speed demonstrates how the Automatic Active Kidney Grille enhances both performance and efficiency in the driving experience offered by BMW vehicles.

Analyzing Material and Durability

Plastic Material and Longevity

The BMW Active Kidney Grille is made from high-quality plastic material, which offers both strength and durability. However, even the best materials can degrade over time, and the plastic used in these grilles is no exception. Prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions and road debris can result in wear and tear, eventually leading to its reduced functionality.

One of the factors that contribute to the degradation of plastic is its exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. When UV rays break down the plastic’s molecular structure, it becomes brittle and less resistant to impact. Additionally, the grille faces constant exposure to road debris, salt, and grime, further impacting longevity.

Common Malfunction Issues

Several malfunction issues have been reported by BMW owners in relation to the Active Kidney Grille. Among the most common issues is the grille shutters remaining open all the time, even in cold weather conditions when they should be closed to maintain the engine’s optimal temperature 1( This failure can adversely affect the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and performance.

Another issue that has been noted is the grille’s inability to close automatically when required, for instance, during high-speed driving. In such scenarios, the shutters should close to minimize air resistance and improve aerodynamics. A malfunctioning Active Kidney Grille can lead to decreased fuel efficiency and increased emissions.

While these issues may not occur in all BMW vehicles with an Active Kidney Grille, it is essential for owners to regularly inspect the grille for any signs of wear or malfunction. If any issues are observed, it is recommended to consult with a professional BMW technician for proper diagnosis and repair.

Finding Information and Resources

Online Videos for Troubleshooting

There are a variety of online videos available that can help you troubleshoot issues with your BMW Active Kidney Grille. These videos offer step-by-step guidance in diagnosing the problem and potentially fixing it yourself. For instance, you can refer to this BMW Active Kidney Grille video on YouTube which provides an overview of the system and its functionality. By following video tutorials and tips shared by experienced BMW owners, you can gain a better understanding of the Active Kidney Grille system and learn how to maintain it properly.

Locating a Reliable Dealer in Houston

If you are experiencing issues with your BMW Active Kidney Grille and prefer to seek professional assistance, it is important to locate a reliable and authorized BMW dealer in the Houston area. Houston has numerous authorized BMW dealerships, such as BMW of West Houston and Momentum BMW, which offer skilled technicians capable of diagnosing and repairing any issues related to your Active Kidney Grille system.

Before scheduling a service appointment, make sure to research and compare various Houston-based dealerships based on their ratings, reviews, and service offerings. This will help you choose the most suitable dealership that can effectively address your concerns and provide excellent customer service.

Additionally, some dealerships may offer resources such as online vehicle maintenance tips and guides, which can aid in troubleshooting and understanding the Active Kidney Grille system. Access to such information will not only help you identify the issue but also prepare you for a productive discussion with the dealer’s service staff.

In summary, finding information and resources related to your BMW Active Kidney Grille system is crucial in addressing any issues properly. Utilizing online video tutorials and selecting a reliable Houston-based dealership are essential components in successfully troubleshooting and resolving problems with your Active Kidney Grille.


  1. BimmerFest BMW Forum 2
  3. NHTSA

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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