BMW E36 Blog

BMW E36 Warning Lamps

21st May 2008

BMW E36 Warning Lamps



I read many posts about people asking about special symbols and warning lamps that turn on in their BMW E36 cars and they don’t actually know what they mean. While some warning lamps are self explanatory, some of them are mysteriously weird and I honestly don’t know how the car designers chose them.

Today, I’ve prepared a legend of all (well, I’m not sure if I’m missed something or not) the symbols that you may see in the dashboard of your BMW E36. Below you will find the symbol (indictor) lamp a long with possible reason why it’s turned on.

BTW, I took these from the BMW E36 owners manual, you can refer to that post and download the whole manual if you like.


turn signal left right green Turn signal left/right, green
Flashes when the turn signals are in operation.
battery charge current red Battery charge current, red
Goes out after the engine has started.
If the lamp comes on during normal vehicle operation:
The battery is no longer being charged. Indicates a defect in the generator drive-belt or the charging circuit. Tony: Maybe the alternator has a problem too.
high beam blue High beam, blue
Lights up when the high beams are switched on or the headlamp flashers are activated.
engine oil pressure red Engine oil pressure, red
Goes out after the engine has started. May come on briefly at idle when the engine is hot, but must go out again at higher engine speed.
If the lamp comes on during normal vehicle operation: stop vehicle and switch off engine immediately. Check engine oil level; if necessary, add oil. If oil level is correct: contact your BMW Retailer. Tony: Maybe your car is leaking oil, check for that too
foglamps green Foglamps, green
Lights up whenever you switch on the foglamps.
airbags red Airbags, red
This lamp turns on for an operational check when you turn the ignition key to position 1. If, at the operation check, it does not go on, or goes on while driving, have it checked at your BMW Retailer.
automatic transmission yellow Automatic transmission, yellow
Goes out after the engine has started.
asc t automatic stability control plus traction yellow ASC+T (Automatic Stability Control plus Traction), yellow
Goes out shortly after the ignition is switched on:
System OK.
abs antilock brake system ABS (Antilock Brake System), yellow
Goes out after the engine has started. If the lamp comes on during normal vehicle operation:
ABS has been deactivated in response to a system malfunction. Conventional braking force remains unimpaired.
brake pad wear yellow Brake pad wear, yellow
Lights up when starter is actuated and goes out when the engine is started. If the lamp comes on during normal vehicle operation:
replace brake pads immediately.
brake hydraulics red Brake hydraulics, red
Goes out after the engine has started. If the lamp comes on during normal vehicle operation:
low brake fluid.
parking brake red Parking brake, red
Goes out after the engine has started. Comes on when you engage the parking brake.
check engine emissions related systems Emissions-related systems
Lamp goes out once engine starts. If this indicator lamp lights up during normal vehicle operation, either continuously or intermittently, this indicates a fault in one of the emissions related electronic circuits. Although the vehicle remains operational, you should have the systems checked by a BMW Retailer at the earliest possible opportunity. Tony: This indicates that you’re having a problem and you should check it as soon as possible
please fasten safety belts red Please fasten safety belts, red
(With acoustic signal if the driver’s belt is not buckled). Lights up briefly when the ignition key is turned, and then goes out (in some models it goes out after you fasten safety belts).
rollover protection system yellow BMW Convertible Rollover Protection System, yellow
Goes out shortly after the ignition is switched on:
System OK.


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23rd August 2007

Bentley BMW E36 Service Manual . . . A gold mine!


To be honest with you guys, I’ve never been a fan of cars books or service manuals as I think they will not help you much to understand how your car works or even help you fix a problem inside it. I always thought that it is simpler to find what I’m looking for on the web (mainly forums) and so on. However, I think I’ve just changed my idea about these books or at least about a specific book that I heard a lot about. The book is the Bentley BMW E36 Service Manual. I’ve been told that this book is very good and it’s a real gold mine for BMW E36 owners but I was suspecting that it’s being over estimated until I ordered that book from Amazon and started reading it. Well, I didn’t finish reading yet, but I decided to check how I can solve a problem that is happening to my car using this manual and see if it goes well.

My car started hesitating in the last week and the problem seems to be getting worse, so I tried to check it and I know that I have problems in both Oxygen Sensor and Knock Sensor because I’ve tried to clean my ICV (Idle Control Valve) already with no success in resolving this problem. I’ve started reading the section about fuel injection in the Bentley BMW E36 service manual and to my surprise, the book is really awesome. You won’t believe how precise it is when describing the procedure to check your whole fuel injection system starting with the main relay testing and ending with the ICV (Idle Control Valve) testing.

I’m really impressed with this one and I strongly recommend this book to every BMW E36 owner. So even if you’re not into the car do-it-yourself stuff. I think it will help you understand how your car works and even help you trace some of the problems in your car without the need to pay big $$$ for BMW mechanics.

I’m listing below the content of this book so, you can see what does it offer:

  0 General Data and Maintenance
    0.1 Fundamentals for the Do It Yourself Owner
0.2 Maintenance Program
  1 Engine
    1.1 Engine-General
1.2 Engine Removal and Installation
1.3 Cylinder Head Removal and Installation
1.4 Cylinder Head and Valvetrain
1.5 Camshaft Timing Chain
1.6 Lubrication System
1.7 Ignition System
1.8 Battery, Started, Alternator
1.9 Fuel Injection … this is really awesome!
1.10 Fuel Tank and Fuel Pump
1.11 Radiator and Cooling System
1.12 Exhaust System
  2 Transmission
    2.1 Transmission-General
2.2 Clutch
2.3 Manual Transmission
2.4 Automatic Transmission
2.5 Gearshift Linkage
2.6 Driveshaft
  3 Suspension, Steering and Brakes
    3.1 Suspension, Steering and Brakes-General
3.2 Front Suspension
3.3 Steering and Wheel Alignment
3.4 Rear Suspension
3.5 Final Drive
3.6 Brakes
  4 Body
    4.1 Body-General
4.2 Fenders, Engine-Hood
4.3 Doors
4.4 Trunk Lid
  5 Body Equipment
    5.1 Exterior Trim, Bumpers
5.2 Door Windows
5.3 Interior Trim
5.4 Central Locking and Anti-Theft
5.5 Seats
5.6 Sunroof
5.7 Convertible Top
  6 Electrical System
    6.1 Electrical System-General
6.2 Electrical Component Locations
6.3 Wipers and Washers
6.4 Switches and Electrical Accessories
6.5 Instruments
6.6 Exterior Lighting
6.7 Heating and Air Conditioning
6.8 Radio
  7 Equipment and Accessories
    7.1 Seat Belts
7.2 Airbag System (SRS)
  8 Electrical Wiring Diagrams

If you don’t have this book, just get one. It will definitely help you.

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posted in Technical Info, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized | 4 Comments