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BMW Original Parts
Apr 24, 2023
For many of us, there's no music without Bluetooth. Whether we're using wireless headphones or streaming music from our smartphone to a home stereo or BMW with Bluetooth, there's a good chance it's Bluetooth that's making it all happen.
But sometimes, there's no music with Bluetooth, either. So what do you do when you notice your BMW Bluetooth not working? What's caused it, and more importantly, what can you do to solve it?
You've come to the right place! We'll take a look at the most common issues with Bluetooth, BMW-specific tricks to get it working again, and a few things you can do to improve your in-car Bluetooth experience. BMW Bluetooth problems will soon be a thing of the past ;)
First up, let's go over the most common issues you might face when trying to get music, podcasts, or other entertainment playing in your BMW with Bluetooth. Remember though, Bluetooth isn't the only way to connect your phone to your BMW. If you're having problems with Apple CarPlay, you're using a WiFi connection, so nothing here is going to help.
Only a little less annoying than having your BMW Bluetooth not connected at all is completing BMW Bluetooth pairing and… nothing. Silence. It's enough to have you doubting whether Bluetooth really is the best way to stream audio to your BMW…
There are a few reasons why that could be happening (and for now, we'll assume you've already made sure you've got the volume turned up ;) ). The most obvious first place to look is your smartphone: does your music play when you're not connected to Bluetooth? If you're using a streaming service, you could be having problems with your cellular signal.
If your phone is playing music, then you might not have configured your device and your BMW's Bluetooth connection properly. Your iDrive Bluetooth settings let you control what kinds of audio streaming are and aren't allowed for each paired device. Take a look at your BMW Bluetooth menu and make sure you've switched on audio for the device you're using.
The same rules apply to other types of audio, like phone calls. You want to make sure your iDrive is set up to handle Bluetooth telephony from your device.
And if that doesn't help? You could be looking at a BMW Bluetooth pairing problem. As is so often the case, a good first step is switching off your phone's Bluetooth and pairing it with your BMW again.
If that doesn't work, there might be a connection conflict going on. Is your passenger's phone also trying to connect to your BMW's iDrive via Bluetooth? BMW's standard Bluetooth offering only allows pairing one device (but there are some enhanced Bluetooth for BMW options we'll take a look at in a moment).
So you've got everything paired properly, your iDrive is configured, all competing devices have been safely banished from your BMW. Finally, there's sound. But does it sound good? That's a whole other matter, unfortunately.
In fact, poor voice quality during calls is one of the most complained about BMW Bluetooth problems. Many BMW drivers report pops, call dropouts, and noise that makes it difficult to be heard.
The first thing to do is to make sure you've installed the latest BMW Bluetooth update available for your vehicle. If you aren't sure how, we'll go over that a little later on. You should do the same on your phone if there are any updates available. Buggy software—either on your BMW or your phone—is one of the top causes of voice quality problems.
But if the problems only come up when you're driving at high speeds, the software probably isn't to blame. In fact, the microphone in your BMW might not be installed correctly.
The microphone used for BMW Bluetooth calls is directional, meaning it should face toward the person speaking and away from sources of noise, like the windscreen or ventilation system. Is that always the case? Well, in some models, including the BMW 1-Series F20 and BMW 3-Series F30, it's known that the microphone wasn't always installed facing the optimal direction.
The same issue can occur in any model, though, if you or a mechanic have ever removed the headliner. The microphone could have accidentally been reinstalled facing the wrong direction (an arrow on the microphone should let you know which way it needs to point). In that case, instead of people hearing you, they'll hear the sounds of your car on the highway. Of course, the faster you go, the worse that becomes.
If you still find Bluetooth not working in a BMW vehicle, it's likely a pairing problem. BMW Bluetooth pairing works just like pairing wirelessly with any other device – which also means when it doesn't work, you can try many of the same tricks.
You might need to reset BMW Bluetooth to get things working again. To do that:
With a clean slate, you're free to pair your phone and BMW once again. If everything went to plan, after that BMW Bluetooth reset your phone and iDrive will be connected.
Not all Bluetooth connections are permanent. That's fine when you're the one switching it off, but not so fine when the connection is cutting out by itself.
If you're facing this issue, there are three main possible causes:
There's one more possible reason for Bluetooth not working in BMW vehicles, but… this almost certainly isn't the problem and should only be a last resort ;)
An Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) is a specific Bluetooth communication profile that is designed to perform best when controlling music and video – as opposed to Bluetooth's other uses. Well, that sounds technical, so why does it matter?
There are a few different AVRCP versions, each offering more features than the last. At version 1.0, you don't get much more than play/pause and track skipping. Moving up to the more modern 1.6, you get master volume control, album art, and greater control options. Most modern devices support all AVRCP versions, but if you're using something older, there might be communication issues between your device and BMW.
There's not much you can do in that case (except update your phone), but that doesn't mean anything. Android devices usually let you configure which AVRCP version to use (but you might need to unlock developer settings first), so you can try out if one works better than another.
Sometimes, if there are BMW Bluetooth problems, an update is the only way to go. BMW makes it easy to update your iDrive's Bluetooth software via the USB port.
To start with, you'll want to find the BMW Bluetooth software update page for your local market – any search engine should come in handy ;) There, you'll be able to enter your VIN and check if there is a BMW Bluetooth update available for you. If there is, download it, save to a USB stick, and insert it into your BMW's USB interface. The update should go ahead. As easy as that!
At the same time, it's worth making sure your phone is up to date too. How to do that is going to depend on your device and operating system.
Of course, nothing is going to be playing over Bluetooth if you haven't established a connection yet. Fortunately, getting your mobile device and BMW iDrive on the same page is pretty simple.
The exact steps and how your vehicle's menu works are going to depend on which iDrive version you have, but the process is usually roughly the same.
Once that's done, your phone and BMW should automatically connect to each other any time you go for a drive.
Once you've got all that Bluetooth-y goodness in your car, you're probably thinking to yourself: how do I take this to the next level?
The answer is enhanced Bluetooth. We've taken a deep dive into what BMW Enhanced Bluetooth is and what it can do in your car, so check out that article if you want more details. But the main differences are that enhanced Bluetooth supports streaming music with album art, as well as pairing more than one device for phone calls.
That's a great option if you have a personal and company phone, and want to receive calls on either. Or if you and your spouse don't keep secrets from each other ;)
Enhanced Bluetooth was available as a factory option in models right back to the E60 5 Series, as well as BMW's next generations of vehicles. But just because it was available in your model, doesn't necessarily mean you have it activated.
In some older cars, you'll first need to fit a combox module in the trunk. Owners of newer vehicle have an easier ride; BimmerTech's Enhanced Bluetooth/USB activation for BMW coding is a simple process you can complete from home. Depending on your vehicle, you'll either need a remote coding session with our trained technician or you'll be able to activate it simply by inserting a flash drive into your BMW's USB interface.
However you choose to activate Enhanced Bluetooth in your car, hopefully, you won't need to check back here to solve any BMW Bluetooth problems ;)
Any Bluetooth issues we haven't covered? Let us know in the comments and our experts will help you out.
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