BMW Steering Wheel Controls Not Working: Here’s Why!

The steering wheel buttons are a recent add-on to the latest generation of cars. And surely, BMW also has it.

However, many users have specific complaints about the steering wheel buttons not working on the BMW.

So, why is the BMW steering wheel controls not working?

Firstly, it can be a clockspring issue. Because clocksprings give the steering wheel more control. Secondly, backdated software systems can lead to this problem. Finally, the ECU might be another reason for the dysfunctional steering wheel buttons. You will see a BMW steering wheel symbol on the dash. 

This can be considered a briefing. You’ll definitely need more information to fix the steering wheel; read the article till the end.

3 Reasons for BMW Steering Controls Not Working

Technologies inside cars should be taken care of in order to increase longevity. The same goes for the BMW steering controls. If you don’t take care of it, it might stop working.

BMW Steering Controls

Now you might ask, why is my steering wheel controls not working? Well, that is exactly what I have explained in the next segment. Start reading to find out!

Reason 1: Damaged Clockspring

This term may seem familiar to you. Clocksprings are basically a rotary connector, which gives the steering wheel more control. 

It can be found through the BMW 1 to BMW 7 series steering wheel buttons. It’s not just BMWs, every car which has steering wheel controls uses clocksprings. 

Although clocksprings are built to last, they are prone to damage. Naturally, the clocksprings can also wear off.

A damaged clockspring can result in the BMW steering wheel buttons failure. Whatever model the BMW is, e39, x1, x5; it’s risky. 

You may be worried about fixing the clockspring issues at this point. But don’t worry, I got your back! I have elaborated on the solution here, check it out.


The term damaged clockspring usually refers to a broken clockspring. A proper clockspring replacement can easily fix this issue.

Tools you will need-

  • SST toolkit

Here are the steps for replacing a clockspring on your BMW-

  • First, turn off the battery system of the BMW. Taking out the battery system of a car is necessary. 

A running battery while doing maintenance can cause many problems. For instance, it can cause the absence of tesla safety scores!

After taking out the battery, wait for a bit to dissipate the electricity inside the car.

  • Then, sit in the driver’s seat. Look for holes in the steering wheel, there should be 2 holes on each side. 

Grab the SST tool key. Insert and twist this L-shaped toolkit to take the steering wheel cover off. 

The BMW clockspring and airbag pad should be visible now. Detach the connection between the airbag pad and the clockspring.

If you’re looking for good quality SST tool keys, check the list I’ve provided for you-

DURATECH 4 Way Sillcock Key Set, 1/4″, 9/32″, 5/16″, 11/32″, Check Latest Price on Amazon
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Using these toolkits will surely make any car fixing easier! Additionally, these toolkits don’t catch rust.

  • After that, take the crowbar and take out the large nut which rests in the center. By removing the nut, you can easily unplug the clockspring now. 

Find the click bar on the clockspring. Gently pressing it will make a clicking noise and detach the clockspring. 

  • After detaching the clockspring, install the new clockspring. Repeat the processes in reverse to ensure a flawless installation!
  • Finally, screw the steering nut back in and connect the clockspring and the airbag pad. Put the steering cover back on and also restore the battery system at the end

Reason 2: Backdated Software

You may think the button issue is solely related to hardware issues. However, the software can be a reason here. 

BMW is an advanced car manufacturer, which provides a great infotainment system. Now, every system has to be updated at some point.

Backdated Software

Failure to update the system can easily cause the BMW multifunction steering wheel buttons

Software updates are crucial to add security and new functionalities to your favorite car! It diminishes problems like unsupported USBs on BMWs and BMW steering wheel music controls not working.

In the BMW manual, you can find the BMW steering wheel buttons explained. Yet, it doesn’t directly mention that you need to update software for the buttons to work.

You don’t need to take any pressure though. Below, I have explained the software updating instruction step-by-step. You can upgrade the software from here!


Maintaining the sequence, follow the steps below-

Updating the BMW software might help fix the steering control issue. But if you don’t have any USB medium, you should look for other alternatives.

How to update BMW software without USB?

Connecting the car to wifi will help it to download the software update from the internet. Check if there’s any available update for the software. Go to car>preferences>general preferences>remote software upgrade. After going to this page, search for upgrades.

  • If an upgrade is available, the system will provide further instructions on how to update the system. Following these instructions will update your BMW software to the latest version.

You’ll just have to keep the system connected to the wifi, the rest will be done automatically.

  • Finally, you can restart the car to refresh the system. 

Reason 3: Glitching Control Unit

This is a very common reason behind small problems you’ll face on a BMW. A glitching control unit of a car can create a series of problems. 

The control unit on a car controls a series of actuators, both inside and outside. Accordingly, it’s very critical to keep the control unit working properly. 

When the control unit does not work properly, you may see the BMW steering wheel symbol on dash. It indicates that the steering wheel is unavailable, which also makes the controls unavailable.

BMW steering wheel

Due to ECU glitches, you can also find the BMW steering wheel controls not working.

Don’t worry though, it’s pretty straightforward to fix the control unit. You can check the steps below.


Follow the steps below to fix the control unit-

  • First, start the car. After the LCD starts working, access it and go to the general settings. 
  • After that, find the ‘steering wheel’ settings and click on ‘user defined’. It’ll take you to the window where you can define the functions of the steering wheel buttons.
  • Then, find the ‘derived functioning option’. Press it to grant permission to the car system. The permission will allow the car to make certain modifications.
  • For the next step, you have to press and hold every function button. Doing this will link the steering wheel buttons to the car system. 
  • Finally, restart the vehicle and check the buttons. Since you have rerouted the steering wheel buttons, it should work.

So, these are some common reasons and solutions behind the BMW steering wheel controls not working.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do You Skip a Song on a BMW Steering Wheel?

You can skip a song on a BMW by using its steering wheel or other buttons. Steering wheels make skipping tracks easy because it is handy and convenient. There is a scroll wheel on the BMW steering wheel, which is not on the right side. Spinning the wheel can alternate between the tracks.

Why Do BMWs Not Have Turn Signals?

BMWs don’t have to turn signals because the turning process automatically. In regular cars, the stalk is needed to turn on the turning signals. Pushing the stalk up and down dictates the turning signals. In BMW, the stalk remains at a neutral position at all times. The signals use the sensors rather than the stalk.

What Are BMW Cornering Lights?

The BMW cornering lights are a special kind of light, which moves while turning. 

These are special lights from BMW. By the name, it’s clear that these lights help with increasing the visibility of corners. The cornering lights activate whenever the front wheels are turned, which makes it very beneficial.

Final Words

You have come to the end of this article. Hopefully, now you know the causes and fixes behind the BMW steering wheel controls not working.

If you have a servicing warranty, you can take your car to the BMW servicing center. They’ll fix the steering wheel issue easily!

All the best!

Robert Lozano

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