Posted on 5 May 2013

Most new BMW’s are fitted with an intelligent charging system called IBS, this system constantly monitors the health of the battery, its current charge status and its age, and this information is constantly monitored and fed back to the main vehicles’ ECU and diagnostic system.

The reason for BMW Intelligent Battery System is to adapt the charge rate and cycle to the age of the battery, this helps to prolong the life of the battery by constantly altering the charge voltage and current depending on its current charge state and electrical condition. It also helps to adapt the most efficient charging cycle to its current environmental conditions, such as maximising and priortising the charge current during the winter months when the current draw from heater, windshield wipers, heated mirrors, headlights etc is at its greatest and so the need for a fully charged battery during cold mornings and increased electrical load becomes paramount.

The BMW IBS system also adapts and evolves as the vehicle battery ages, thus always maintaining the battery charge health in peak condition. For this reason when a battery is replaced, it is important that the ECU and IBS system within the vehicle is reset, in order for the old hisorical data to be deleted and the vehicle electrical system be ‘told’ that it has a new battery fitted, so it can begin the battery adaption and aging process from scratch, and the charge histogram’s  reset.

Some owners may tell you that registering a new battery is not important and that they replaced theirs several months ago and the vehicle is running fine, and this may indeed be true (at that time).

However these may also be the same owners, who, next winter are experiencing charging and battery capacity problems during severe cold weather, or are replacing their ‘new’ battery two or three years earlier than required, purely because the vehicle ECU thinks it has a seven year old battery fitted rather than a three year old battery, simply because the new one was never registered when it was changed over, and the data reset the first time around.

False Economy could cost you much more months or years later, and the effects of not registering a new battery may not be immediately obvious or problematic, they may appear a week later or the next Winter.

Sometimes, not registering the battery can also cause later erratic behaviour in the vehicle electrical system. E6x and E9x series BMW’s are fitted with ‘Energy Saving’ and ‘Transport modes’, both of which can be activated automatically by the Vehicle in order to conserve energy and battery capacity when the vehicle ECU and IBS senses that its battery is low or in poor condition.

When these modes are activated, several non critical electrical systems are restricted or shutdown, and these include Sat Nav, Radio and CIC systems, Central Locking, PDC Control, Interior lights etc. If a battery has failed, or has got so low that either (or both) of these modes have been activated, then these systems may completely shut themselves down or their future operation becomes erratic and intermittant, and so the energy saving system will need to be reset using suitable Diagnostic Software.

The situation becomes further complicated if the battery you are replacing is of a higher capacity than the original one. For example, replacing a 90AH battery with a 110AH version. Changes like this require the IBS to be reprogrammed with the new battery capacity, failure to do so will result in the vehicle using the charge cycle and current of the old lower capacity, which in turn will result in the new battery not charging to 100% capacity, and becoming discharged faster during Winter months, it may also result in energy saving modes activating intermittantly, or far earlier than required because the total available battery capacity which is being fed back to the ECU will be incorrect.

We sell INPA and BMW DIS diagnostic software which enables you to access virtually all of the diagnostic and servicing procedures which the main BMW Dealer would normally have to do, and this includes:-

1) Registering a new battery

2) Reprogramming a new battery capacity (eg replacing a 80AH with a 90AH)

3) Resetting the historical charge histogram data

4) Removing ‘Energy Saving’ and ‘Transport mode’ either or both of which may have been triggered by a low or dead battery.

5) Resetting all error codes caused by a failed or discharged battery.

If you intend to replace a dead or failing battery yourself on a vehicle fitted with the IBS system, then you will need to register the battery and reset the charging histograms by using the option from  within our diagnostic software package.

Also if you are suffering the intermittant problems with the Electrical Systems as I have described above, then its possible that the battery was replaced at some point without being registered, and either transport or energy saving mode has been activated causing intermittant shutdown of entertainment and navigation systems. A simple diagnostic error code reading and reset using our diagnostic software may save you the expense of replacing these systems.

Click here to buy the BMW DIS and INPA Diagnostic Software

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