If your ConnectedDrive apps stopped working, here are the steps to help you troubleshoot the problem.
- Check the in-car telematics function
- Try to update CD services
- Reset the telematics control unit
- Contact the CD support
- Read out the fault memory
- Update the vehicle software
The most typical ConnectedDrive functional constraints actually occur outside of your BMW. As ConnectedDrive is a complex ecosystem, first you need to confirm that the in-vehicle system really works.
1. Check the telematics function
You can do it simply by testing the SOS call system since both the ConnectedDrive and Emergency Call use the same telematics system. Generally, the SOS or Emergency Call system in your BMW is functional if there is no check control warning message like ‘SOS Call Malfunction’ (the message can vary depending on the model). If the system works – you can call BMW assistance – and there’s no SOS malfunction fault in your dash, you can proceed to the next step.
If, on the other hand, there is an SOS fault, you’ll need to read the fault memory with ISTA or other compatible diagnostic tools. The most common fault of the SOS system is a worn battery in the TCB/ATM telematics control unit, located under the shark fin antenna under the roof. For further assistance check this article:
2. Update BMW Services
There are three ways to update the BMW ConnectedDrive services:
- Via iDrive
- Via ConnectedDrive Dealer Cockpit
- Via ISTA service application (Service function → Body → Head unit → Update online services)
Via iDrive Menu
On the ConnectedDrive options menu, select “Update BMW Services.” If the option is grayed out, you will not be able to update it because of a fault in the system. If this is the case, proceed to the next step.
Via ConnectedDrive Dealer Cockpit
The ConnectedDrive support team or dealer who has your vehicle assigned can update the online services remotely for you. Or, at least, they can try. After you contact them, they’ll also try all available remote options, including the system refresh, rebooting the head unit, etc., to resolve your issue.
If the remote session doesn’t help, you’ll need to visit a dealer to read out the fault memory and try to update the online services with the ISTA service application.
After this, you’ll need to visit your local BMW dealer to read out the fault memory with ISTA. Or you can do it yourself if you have the access to ISTA application. Only the official, online ISTA version will work on updating the online services.
3. Reset Telematics Control Unit
Rebooting the Telematics Communication Box (TCB) or Advanced Telematics Module (ATM) will help in most cases. It doesn’t matter which system your BMW uses, this method often works if there are no error codes in the fault memory.
You can restart the telematics ECU by disconnecting it from a power supply for at least 20 minutes. That is, you can either pull out the module’s fuse or disconnect the negative battery lead. On some BMWs, it’s easier to pull the fuse out, while on others, it’s easier to disconnect the battery.
To locate the fuse you’ll need the wiring plan like this:
In the example above you can see the fuse F120 located in the rear fuse box powers the TCB unit.
In the example above you can see how easy is to locate and access the F120 fuse in some models. If you are not sure which fuse powers the telematics, it might be better to just disconnect the battery for at least 20 minutes.
4. Contact ConnectedDrive Support
If the telematics system is operative, the ConnectedDrive support might help you remotely. Depending on where do you live, you can contact BMW Assistance from the iDrive’s Assit menu, with the BMW Connected app on your phone, or by pressing the SOS button. Or you can go the oldfashion route and contact them via e-mail or a phone call.
You can find contact information on your ConnectedDrive website:
For other markets, look up your local BMW website.
5. Read The Fault Memory
Unfortunately, most of the faults in ConnectedDrive system aren’t stored as a diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) so that you have a guidance for troubleshooting. However, if there’s a fault in the telematics system the you can read out the fault code with a scanner and continue troubleshooting from there.
How Does BMW ConnectedDrive Work
I won’t bother you with all the technical details, but it is important to understand some basic principles of how ConnectedDrive technology works, so you can better understand what can go wrong.
The ConnectedDrive services connect the car to its surroundings and provide the customer with a variety of networked functions and services. To ensure that the excellent customer experience associated with connected services works flawlessly in the car, several different systems must be optimally suited to and interconnected with one another.
When linked services are deployed, your BMW is just one component of a larger system that enables consumer functions. Other critical components of the overall system include a reliable mobile network connection and ConnectedDrive’s central IT infrastructure.
|2||iDrive with ConnectedDrive service|
|3||Telematics control unit|
|4||GSM Antenna (integrated into shark fin)|
|5||Mobile phone (GSM) connection between the vehicle and GSM provider|
|7||The network connection between the GSM providers and the ConnectedDrive IT system|
|8||BMW ConnectedDrive IT system|
As a result, in order for ConnectedDrive to work, the following conditions must be met:
- A contract with ConnectedDrive that is currently active and valid.
- A vehicle has a transmitting telematics control unit and an integrated SIM card.
- The vehicle’s online services must be activated and updated.
- A mobile phone network that is available for the data transfer of service information.
- The information for the service is provided by a ConnectedDrive IT system that runs in the background.
Functional restrictions that have been stored (fault memory)
In addition to the conventional vehicle-based diagnosis, possible fault causes outside the vehicle must be considered for thorough fault analysis.
The vehicle’s networking with external systems, such as an IT system, is quite complicated. These connections are made via radio or mobile technology that meets strict quality and safety criteria. It is vital to save any mistakes that occur during the connection setup or while utilizing the ConnectedDrive services in the vehicle. Please keep in mind that these are not car malfunctions.
These fault code entries help the CD support team in analyzing the issues and explaining them to the consumer. The fault memory idea for functional restrictions with ConnectedDrive services was created for this reason.
If a ConnectedDrive service could not or only partially perform, these errors are always stored in the fault memory. A malfunction outside the vehicle is always the primary cause of a functional limitation in such circumstances.
If, for example, a mobile phone connection cannot be established in order to call the information service, a corresponding fault is saved in memory, together with all of the essential environmental conditions. The fault memory stores and evaluates environmental conditions such as mileage, time, fault cause, and so on. This evaluation can be done with the help of a test module in the ISTA diagnosis system. The failure information is examined and a corresponding measure is displayed with the test module “Functional limitation ConnectedDrive services.”
ConnectedDrive Discontinuation for 3G [UPDATED]
Mobile carriers decided to phase out 3G networks throughout 2022 to make room for newer technologies. This decision affected (and angered) many BMW owners whose ConnectedDrive services stopped working. Although the shutting down of 3G services was beyond BMW’s control, they stopped the renewal of ConnectedDrive contracts already in 2021.
Basically, this means no more ConnectedDrive services for cars equipped with TCB-3G, COMBOX-NG, and ATM-3G telematics control units. In general, this includes BMWs from the model year 2016 and older.
Here’s the list of affected functionalities:
- Emergency Call (SOS/E-Call) including automatic crash notification
- BMW Online and eMobility
- MyInfo (sent to the car)
- Remote Services
- Stolen Vehicle Recovery
- Real Time Trafiic Information (RTTI)
- My BMW App
For the owners of BMWs equipped with 3G telematics, with valid contracts, the service will work till the mobile carrier shut it down. AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022, Verizon by the end of 2022, and T-Mobile by March 31, 2022. These are not fixed dates, carriers may begin shutting down parts of their networks sooner.
With the announcement of shutting down the 3G, BMW started to work on a massive “3G Sunset” campaign to retrofit affected cars to 4G technology. At the moment the retrofit covers most of the BMW model range:
- 2 Series (F22 Coupe, F23 Convertible)
- 3 Series (F30 Sedan, F31 Touring, F34 Gran Tourismo)
- 4 Series (F32 Coupe, F33 Convertible, F36 Gran Coupe)
- 6 Series (F06 Gran Coupe, F12 Convertible, F13 Coupe)
- 7 Series (G12 Sedan L)
- X Series (X3 F25 SAV, X4 F26 SAC, X5 F15 SAV, X6 F16 SAC, X5 M F85 SAV, X6 M F86 SAC)
BMW 4G Telematics Retrofit
Some BMWs need only the software update, while most will require both hardware and software upgrades. The good thing is BMW classified this retrofit as a “repair retrofit”, which means the cost is covered by BMW themselves. This one-time 4G retrofit repair is currently covered regardless of the eligible vehicle’s age or mileage.
To find out if your BMW is “on the list” contact your BMW dealer and they’ll inform you whether your car is ready for the retrofit and what should be done.
Beware that ISTA will automatically reprogram and code all control units that don’t have the latest software version installed. This might be a problem for modified and coded cars.
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