How to Read BMW Service Status Lights


The service status lights in a BMW illuminate when an error code is generated by the BMW's on-board diagnostic computer. An error code doesn't always mean that there is something wrong with the vehicle. Error codes can be generated for regular maintenance as is the case with service lights. However, sometimes in order to know what service is needed, you have to be able to read the service status lights. To read them, you will need an OBD (on-board diagnostic) service tool.

Things You'll Need

  • OBD service tool

Reading Service Error Codes and Lights

  • Remove the fuse panel cover by pulling it down; or if your BMW uses a knob to "lock" the fuse panel, turn the knob counterclockwise and pull down on the fuse panel cover. The type of fuse panel cover you have will depend on the year of your BMW.

  • Locate the large, circular input on the fuse panel. This input jack is made for a diagnostic tool on all BMW vehicles. There is only one circular input on the fuse panel so it shouldn't be too hard to find.

  • Plug the diagnostic tool into the service input on the fuse panel.

  • Turn the ignition key to the "II" position and wait for a code to be generated by the tool. You will need a technical service manual in order to translate the code, but the diagnostic tool is the only way to read it.

Reading Regular Service Lights

  • Check the seven bars of light on your dash. If you have five green lights illuminated, this indicates a "normal" status, and no service is required. As the lights go out, this acts as a "countdown" to the next regularly scheduled service.

  • Check for all of the green lights to be out and one yellow light illuminated with the words "Oil Service" appearing underneath the bar of lights. This indicates that an oil change is necessary.

  • Check for one yellow light illuminated, all green lights out and the word "Inspection" appearing below the lights. This indicates that you need to have your BMW inspected. The service error code will determine what needs to be inspected.

  • Check for a red light next to a yellow light with either the words "Oil Service" or "Inspection" underneath the lights. This indicates that you must have service done on your BMW immediately and that it is not safe to drive your BMW until you have the required service performed.

Tips & Warnings

  • For specific information about your BMW service status lights, consult the particular vehicle's manual.

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  • Photo Credit full dashboard image by alwayspp from
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