Has your BMW been slow to start lately? Perhaps you have noticed that the electrical components are not functioning as well as they used to? This could be a sign that your car’s battery needs to be replaced and the new battery programmed for all systems to operate correctly.
But how much will that cost? BMWs are not cheap cars and neither are replacement parts for them. In this article, we will cover the cost of buying a new battery and getting it replaced and programmed. We also cover why it is necessary to program new batteries and signs that your battery has reached the end of its lifespan.
Why Do You Need a Battery Replacement?
The reason you need to replace your BMW battery, or any car battery, is that as it gets older it will not charge as well. How long your battery will last depends on a range of factors, but generally, it should last between three to five years. Let’s take a look at the factors that affect the life of the battery.
- Heat: the liquids inside the battery can evaporate at high temperatures, which will shorten the lifespan of the battery.
- Jump Starts: if you allow your battery to empty to the point when you need to jump-start, this can negatively affect the battery’s life.
- Quality of the battery: while cheaper batteries will work, they may have a shorter lifespan than more expensive, better-quality batteries. While you will save money when you purchase a new battery, you will likely need to replace it sooner.
- Vibration: your battery is secured in place with clamps, but over time these can loosen. If you often drive on uneven roads, this can reduce the battery’s life as the vibrations add more strain to the clamps.
How Can You Tell You Need a New Battery?
Most newer BMWs have a sensor that will tell you when you need a battery replacement. Without a sensor, it can be tricky to tell when the battery needs replacing. However, some signs can indicate the battery’s life has run its course. If you notice any or several of the issues listed below, it is time to check your battery.
- The headlights are dimmer than before
- The car has trouble starting or won’t start at all
- You can hear a clicking sound when turning the key
- There is a lot of discharge from the battery
- The battery loses charge quickly
- Electrical components not working properly
Do I Need to Program a Replacement BMW Battery?
Whether you need to program your BMW battery replacement, depends on the age of your car. Newer BMW models have more advanced electronics than older models which are aimed at improving the mileage you get per gallon. Models from 2002 or newer require you to complete a battery registration process.
Newer BMWs have Intelligent Battery Sensors (IBS) that have microprocessors for measuring and monitoring voltage, charge, discharge, and currents. They also monitor the battery’s temperature.
What Happens When You Program a New BMW Battery?
Your new BMW battery may have different voltage specifications or different amperage than your old battery. Programming the new battery allows your car to adjust to the settings of the new battery so that there will be no damage to the electrical system of your BMW.
You also need to register your new battery to reset the battery statistics. An older battery has a lower charging capacity and as it ages your car will adjust how much recharge is needed so the battery is always operating at an optimal level. When you install a new battery, the statistics need to be cleared to avoid overcharging.
What Will Happen if I Don’t Program The New Battery?
If you do not program the replacement battery, your BMW will think the car is still using the older battery. This can damage your car’s alternator. You may also see warning lights because the system is out of sync.
If you do not inform your car about the battery change, it will also result in an overcharge as the system is working based on the old information. This will shorten the battery’s life and can damage the electrical system.
Who Can Program a New BMW Battery?
You will be able to take your BMW to any BMW car dealer or an authorized BMW shop and they can program your battery. It is possible to do it yourself, but you may want to leave it to a professional mechanic who has the right plugs and special software to carry out the programming.
Because several BMW models require battery programming, it is a routine job, and the cost is reasonable. Using a professional means that the battery is correctly programmed and serviced.
What is The Cost of Replacing And Programming A BMW Battery?
How much you will have to spend to replace the battery and to program it depends on the model of your car, the type of battery, where you are, and the mechanic who changes and programs it. If you feel confident with cars and batteries, you can save money by doing the change and programming yourself.
The prices mechanics charge will differ between the country or the state you are in. The cost will also depend on the price of the battery and how easy it is to change and program it.
If you search for replacement batteries for BMWs on a website such as Autozone, you will find batteries priced between $79.99 and $471.99. You can enter the details of your BMW to get the best match. Paying a mechanic to replace and program the battery, will cost you from $100 upwards. If possible, get several quotes before committing.
Note that most of the batteries you find on non-BMW authorized websites are general car batteries rather than specific for BMWs. However, they can perform equally well as long as they are programmed correctly. If you prefer to get a BMW battery from a registered dealer, the cost varies from $400 to $600 plus labor costs.
When you choose a replacement battery for your BMW, the specifications should be very similar to your old battery. If the battery is an AGM battery, you should stick with the same type. You also need to check the capacity. If your current battery has a capacity of 90 Ahr, you cannot change it for a battery with a 60 Ahr capacity.
Here are the types of batteries you could have in your BMW:
- AGM batteries – AGM stands for absorbed glass matt. Inside these batteries are glass fibers that create a mesh. They are considered safer than liquid batteries because they will not leak acid if damaged.
- GEL Lead Acid – these are batteries with dry cells and contain electrolytes in gel form. They have no caps or filling ports. Instead, they have flat tops and are fully sealed.
- Liquid Lead Acid – has wet cells and is the most popular of the lead acid batteries. They have caps on the top that you can open for refilling.
Programming The Battery Yourself
It is possible to save money by doing it yourself. However, you will need a specialist scan tool. Depending on the method you choose to program your battery, you will also need a laptop, a computer, or a smartphone. You may also need a USB cable.
Alternatively, you can purchase a programming device, which connects via a cable to the OBD port in your car. It will then communicate with a specialist device, such as Maxisys, to program your battery. You can watch a video of Maxisys programming here.
There are different options you can choose from, which include:
- Programming with INPA
- If you already have BMW ISIS software on your PC, you can use this for the programming.
- Registering with BMW Autologic
- You can also download an app called Carly for BMW from the Google Play store or App Store to register the battery.
If you choose to use a DIY method to program your new BMW battery, ensure you follow the BMW battery registration procedure carefully to avoid issues with the battery.
Can You Extend The Battery’s Lifespan?
While no car battery will last indefinitely, there are some things you can do to make it last longer. Keep your battery out of extreme temperatures if possible and take longer trips rather than lots of short trips.
It is also a good idea to check your battery regularly. At least once a month should help you spot any signs of malfunctioning. At the same time, you can check for and clean any corrosion. Keeping your battery corrosion free will help it last longer.
Changing and programming your BMW car battery can be costly. However, they are necessary, as programming your new car battery is vital for the proper functioning of your car. It will ensure the electrical systems in your car work properly and your battery will not overcharge.
Making sure that the new battery settings are correct will also get the best gas mileage out of your BMW, which saves money in the long run.
If you have any questions on BMW battery programming, you can write them in the comments section.