SOS Call System Malfunction BMW X5 - Why Is It Happening? (2023)

The X5 has been the most successful SUV of German multinational manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke AG or BMW. It is one of the best vehicles by the company to have a great on-road handling capability despite its large size. The X5 model carries a more modern monocoque chassis construction instead of body-on-frame.

Currently, the X5 is manufactured in the US and Canada at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg. On the other hand, assembly operations take place in Europe. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are other territories where operations are happening.

SOS Call System Malfunction BMW X5 - Why Is It Happening? (1)

What is the SOS system or Emergency Call System in the X5?

For the past ten years, the BMW Intelligent Emergency Call system has been integrated into newer models. Its primary purpose is to alert the emergency services in case something goes in disarray or whenever you're involved in an accident. This call system is commonly located right above the rearview mirror with the "SOS."

Some of the other functions of the BMW Intelligent Emergency Call system are diagnosing the car and giving relevant information. With this information, rescuers can be prepared for any kind of situation. Once an emergency call is made, relevant data are sent along with it.

Just like most forms of integrated technology, BMW SOS Call System can have malfunctions or failures. When there's a problem with the system, you would know because a message display appears on the iDrive screen. When problems happen in the BMW SOS Call System or any other systems from other models for that matter, it's called a distress system.

How the BMW Intelligent Emergency Call System Works

As a form of alarm system, the BMW SOS Call System sends data that may include the exact current position of the car using GPS coordinates. An estimation of the gravity of the accident as well as the number of airbags deployed is also indicated. Depending on your location, your call could be routed to a BMW call center or directly to the authorities.

To use this platform, you need to first tap to open the cover flap. Then, you'll see the SOS button, which you'll have to press and hold. Wait until the LED in the button area is lit green. During an emergency situation, the system could be triggered automatically.

Another great thing about the BMW SOS Call System is that it allows you to help other commuters. If you're not in an emergency situation but see one, you can use the SOS button. Just make sure to send accurate details of the accident or situation you see that needs immediate action.

There are current talks about making the BMW SOS Call System the standard in European Union. Because of the reliability of this technology, it has become one of the most utilized automobile emergency call systems worldwide. With more models about to be launched by BMW in the next few years, you can expect the BMW SOS Call System to get even better.

Common Causes of Malfunctions

In most models, a crossed-out SOS call malfunction warning light will appear on the dashboard. This message will indicate that the BMW SOS Call System of your X5 is failing. In other models, the iDrive system will not respond to any commands.

All units of your BMW SOS Call System are connected by an optic cable in one loop. This streamlined connection of your amplifier, SOS modules, and head-unit help improve the signal quality and reduce interference. So, when one component fails, all the rest within the loop are disconnected.

The most common reason for an SOS Call System malfunction for BMX X5 is faulty satellite radio. Most satellite radios could be repaired. However, replacing the faulty unit with a perfectly working one is much easier.

The head unit is another component of the SOS Call System that can suffer from various issues. Some failures can shut off the head unit or iDrive or incur communication problems within the loop. You'll know if the head unit is acting up if the SOS call malfunction warning light is triggered.

A faulty amplifier or Bluetooth module can likewise bring down the entire SOS Call System loop. These units are located beneath the floor cover. To pinpoint the faulty component, a fiber-optic bypass loop can be utilized. Checking the fuses at the side of the units regularly could help prevent this type of issue.

While it's very rare for the fiber optic cable to be the cause of the SOS Call System malfunction, there are cases where this cable could suffer from damage. When you're doing other work to your car, you may unintentionally damage some portions of the cable. So, when you're fixing your car, watch out for the fiber optic cable, as these could be quite delicate.

What to Do When Malfunctions Happen

The Drive Assistance program of BMW is offered in the first four years from the original in-service date. During this period, you won't be incurred with no mileage limitations and separate costs. The BMW SOS Call System is considered one of the standards in the Intelligent Emergency Call systems industry.

Despite its world-class quality, malfunctions on BMW SOS Call System could still happen. As previously mentioned, the Call System failure could occur due to different reasons. The good news is there's a solution to every problem, so you won't have to feel too stressed when these issues happen.

In most models, the error message "emergency call system malfunction" appears when the system acts up. If it's still under warranty, you're very lucky because you can simply call your dealer. Most of the time, the manufacturer will replace the telematics control unit.

The telematics control unit is an onboard system that controls diagnostics, tracking, and communication to and from the vehicle. As part of the overall Intelligent Emergency Call system of BMW, the TCU is used in electronic tolling and vehicle tracking. When this component crashes, all remote services will not work.

Upon encountering an error message, try driving to a location with a stronger signal. Sometimes, a poor connection could affect the SOS Call System's efficiency. If you still can't reach the emergency response center, confirm if you're still within the service period and if your account wasn't deactivated.

Another possible issue that could cause a faulty SOS Call System is your phone. If your phone's Bluetooth is turned on, it can interfere with the call feature of the Intelligent Emergency Call System. A simple turning off your phone's Bluetooth connection can do the trick.

There are BMW service centers that suggest disconnecting and reconnecting the Bluetooth connectivity of the iDrive. If this won't work, you might have to delete the Bluetooth BMW connection on the phone and on the car. Moreover, a hardware failure could be the cause, which means putting in a new module is the next step.

Improving the BMW SOS Call System

The BMW SOS Call System is just one of the many ways BMW ensures its clients' safety each time they hit the road. With a push of a button, you're linked to a specialist who will provide you with expert assistance. This feature can be used in minor issues like a flat tire or outright emergencies like collisions.

The customer support of this assistance program comes in a non-stop, 24/7 accessible service. The SOS Call System encompasses a wide array of vital services. These services come in handy when far from home and are essential to your complete safety as a motorist.

There's a big room for improvement for the BMW SOS Call System. For example, the SOS button can be transferred to a more accessible location other than the rearview mirror area. Also, it could be made handy with some sort of remote control. So, in case an accident prevents you from reaching the SOS button, you can reach into your pocket.

Other services that can be enhanced are airbag deployment notification, vehicle diagnostics, and remote unlocking. In addition, the turn-by-turn directions can be made more user-friendly. The theft recovery and towing or flat tire repair are other aspects that drivers encounter daily and must be enhanced.


The current generation of the X5 has revolutionized the way people look at automobiles. With the emergence and prevalence of automatic cars, car manufacturers are trying to outdo each other. As a result, people's tastes and standards in choosing their cars are also becoming more sophisticated.

Safety is everyone's concern because once accidents happen, innocent people are oftentimes also affected. Major companies like BMW continues to make innovations to improve the overall user experience of their millions of clients worldwide. Back in the day, only the exterior looks of a car mattered. Today, the overall performance is the name of the game.

Malfunctions in modern additions to cars like the SOS Call System of the BMW X5 are inevitable. However, with the advancement in technology, there will eventually come a time when these tools are perfected. The X5's legacy is undeniable, and so are the latest additions to this model. It will just be a matter of time before the SOS Call System becomes a norm in all countries.

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