Which Battery Can I Use For My BMW, And How To Replace It

BMW is one of the world’s most popular vehicle manufacturers, enjoying massive sales both in Europe and across the pond in the United States. These German cars have been a mainstay of the industry for over 100 years and show no signs of fading away any time soon. However, your BMW might be on the verge of giving out on you if it’s not properly maintained. One of the most important components to consider when taking care of your BMW is its battery, but of course, it’s not as simple as waiting for it to go flat before heading to the supermarket to pick up a fresh pack of double-As. Here’s everything you need to know about BMWs and their car batteries.

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A battery with a red wire/clip attached

What Type Of Batteries Does A BMW Use?

BMWs use one of three types of car battery: Lead-acid, GEL or Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM). Each one operates differently, will have different pros and cons while in use, and should even be installed and handled in different ways.

Lead-acid batteries contain lead, unsurprisingly, along with sulphuric acid. The lead is submerged into the acid which causes a chemical reaction which, in turn, makes the battery produce electricity. It recharges itself by reversing the chemical reaction.

GEL batteries (often capitalised, despite not being an acronym) are a variation of standard lead-acid batteries, however this type does not need topping up with distilled water. They’re also incredibly low-emission, making them suitable for enclosed spaces, such as in the engine bay of a car (or in the boot, like in most BMW’s cases). Silica fumes are introduced into the pre-existing chemical combination of lead and sulphuric acid, resulting in the gel-like substance that gives the device its name.

AGM batteries are a further variant of GELs, consisting of a mesh-like material made from glass fibres to ensure that no acid can be spilled or leak. They also typically hold the most charge of the three types.

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Do Different Models Of BMWs Need Different Batteries?

Some models of BMW will require different batteries, so make sure you check the specifications of your vehicle before purchasing a replacement. However, many of them are interchangeable as they are the same (or similar) dimensions, whilst also carrying the same voltage.

What Happens If You Put The Wrong Battery In A BMW?

The battery in your car needs to not only physically fit into your BMW, but to also match the required power supply to successfully run the car, plus all of the modern-day accessories that many use these days.

It’s important to consider these points before you attempt to connect another battery, otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll run into problems with the electrical currents involved in powering your car. These could come in the form of power surges that may damage the vehicle’s electrics and computers.

Can I Replace My BMW’s Battery Myself?

While replacing a battery might not be the most complicated do-it-yourself project that you could undertake on your car, there’s no shame in taking your vehicle to a mechanic to get the job done – many drivers do, in fact. However it’s totally possible to try and replace your BMW’s battery yourself, and we’ll even give you a step-by-step rundown of how to do exactly that further down this page!

Do BMW Batteries Have To Be Programmed?

Yes, BMW batteries must be programmed upon installation (which might funnel more drivers towards professional installers instead of attempting to do the job themselves) and have needed to be for more than two decades now.

With the rapid advancement of vehicular technology, there are hundreds of chips and sensors that are constantly reporting statistics based on the car’s performance. Registering your BMW’s new battery will notify the vehicle via the Digital Motor Electronics (DME) that a brand new device has been installed. The car will then cleverly be able to adjust the power levels that the battery uses in order to maximise performance; once the battery ages and begins to deteriorate again, it will readjust them to keep performance levels tip-top.

How To Find The Right Battery For Your BMW

Most car part retailers will offer the ability to search for the correct battery for your car based on its make and model, with their systems – in store or, more commonly now, online – able to match your vehicle to the battery it needs. This is probably the fastest and easiest way to find out which battery suits your BMW.

Alternatively, you can check for an OEM number if you’re looking to switch out the factory battery and use this to find the type that you need, or even an identical replacement. The owner’s manual will also list the battery type required, so if you’ve kept hold of it, flip through to the appropriate page and give it a read.

How To Replace Your BMW Battery

We’ve told you how to find the right battery for your BMW and why it’s important to pick the right one. Now, it’s time to explain how to replace the battery in your BMW:

  • Turn the car off and take out the key. Check the boot (under the liner) and locate the battery, before removing the liner.
  • Disconnect the terminals, starting with negative before moving onto positive. Remove the cables.
  • Remove the bolts holding the brackets in place, then take off the brackets themselves.
  • Take the battery out of the car.
  • Repeat the process in reverse to install the new battery.

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