BMW “Service Engine Soon” (SES) Meaning? Everything You Need to Know! 

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Owning a BMW is a great feeling, not just because of the luxurious feel the car gives you and the comfort it comes with but also due to a couple of other reasons. One of the biggest reasons why BMW is the dream car of millions of people is the security indicator lights it features. 

One such exciting indicator light you can find only on high-end cars like BMW is the Service Engine Soon light. But unfortunately, not many people know what this indicator light means. 

The Sevice Engine Soon or SES notification alert, as evident from its name, is a message you will see on your BMW dashboard if your car needs maintenance soon. It is actually an indicator light that turns on based on the maintenance schedule you have set for your BMW. 

We have compiled a detailed guide for you explaining the meaning of the Sevice Engine Soon light on BMW. We will also explore some of the main causes making this indicator light illuminate your vehicle’s dashboard. Another thing this guide will throw light on is some fixes you can try if the SES light isn’t turning off on its own. 


What Does the SES light Mean? 

The Service Engine Soon light is one of the warning indicator lights that you will keep seeing from time to time on your BMW’s dashboard. It is different from other indicator lights appearing on vehicles as it generally flashes according to a schedule. You are free to adjust and change this schedule at your convenience. 

Seeing the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light on your BMW’s dashboard for the first time can be a little intimidating as it appears in capital letters. This is done on purpose to grab your attention and remind you to book an appointment for your car’s maintenance. 

Though the SES light doesn’t need immediate action like other indicator lights, i.e., check engine, low battery, etc., it’s still better to take your car out for maintenance as soon as possible if you don’t want to face more serious problems. 


Why Do You See the Service Engine Soon Light on Your BMW? 

Like other indicator lights, a BMW features from the check engine light to low battery and SVC tire monitor warning light, etc., the Service Engine Soon light also appears for many reasons. 

We have listed some of the primary reasons for this indicator light appearing on your dashboard. Before moving to the fixes, let’s look at these reasons, so you know what’s making it flash on your vehicle’s dashboard. 

  • Your Car Needs Servicing 

The first and foremost reason for you to see the SES light flashing on the dashboard is the obvious one; your car needs servicing. It is pretty evident from the indicator’s name that whenever your engine has a service due, this light will appear on your dashboard. 

Modern vehicles, especially the luxurious ones like BMW, now notify users of all the minor problems with the car and what could be more important than the car service and maintenance. The best part is that some of these modern vehicles even specify the kind of service your car is craving, making the task a lot easier for you.

  • Ad Blue Fluid 

Another thing that might trigger the SES light to flash on your dashboard is the low level of ad blue fluid in your BMW. Luxurious vehicles like BMW also use adblue fluid to lower vehicle emissions. 

With this fluid, however, you need to be extremely cautious as it needs topping up every 1 kilometre. So, if you haven’t topped up the ad blue fluid in your car, the SES light might flash on your BMW’s dashboard to remind you of the same.  

  • Problem with the Diesel Particulate Filter 

If you have been driving the same car for the past 10 years and your car comes with a diesel engine, problems with the diesel particulate filter can also make the SES light appear on the dashboard. 

As far as the diesel particulate filter is concerned, it has a limited lifespan and needs to be replaced every 125 kilometres. So, if you have recently serviced your car and are sure that this is not why the SES light is flashing, it might be because of the clogged Diesel Particulate filter. 

Sometimes, when the SES light is on because of some issue with the Diesel Particulate Filter, you will also see the Check Engine light flashing on your car’s dashboard. Due to a clogged filter, the engine’s working is affected, which can trigger its functioning, and you will eventually need to check your engine for any issues too. 

  • Low Engine Fluids 

Another reason for you to see the SES light appear on your BMW’s dashboard is low engine fluids. If any engine fluids, be it the engine oil, coolant, or some other liquid in the engine, is low, the SES light will illuminate the dashboard. 

Usually, when this indicator light is flashing because of the quantity of engine fluids being lower than the bare minimum, the dashboard will also specify that the problem is occurring because of low fluids, but at times, you will only see the light. 

In cases when the problem is not specified, you can manually check the engine fluid level in your car to find out if this is the problem-causing agent. 

  • Damaged Brake Pads 

Brake pads are one of the most crucial components of any vehicle’s braking system, and when we talk about car servicing, this tops the list of the components that need to be examined and replaced if necessary. 

If you have lately been using your BMW too often and rarely got the time to get it serviced, its brake pads might have been exhausted by now due to the long hours of drive. This is one of the main reasons that could compel the SES light to go on. 

  • Bad Gas 

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the gas you are filling in your vehicle is pure and free from any contaminants. But luxury cars like BMW won’t stay still if you have just filled the tank with contaminated gas. 

Owing to this, if the gas-filled inside your vehicle’s fuel tank is mixed with any contaminants, the SES light will immediately start flashing on the dashboard. This issue can also be accompanied by facing problems in starting the car. You can also hear strong pinging voices from the engine in severe scenarios. 

  • Problematic Gas Cap 

Another thing that might have caused the SES light to go on and flash on your BMW’s dashboard is the loose or faulty gas cap. If you have recently stopped at a gas station and just as you left the station, you see the “Service Engine Soon” message before you; this could most probably happen because you haven’t tightened the gas cap right. 

Similarly, if the gas cap is broken or damaged, the system will send a signal to the ECU, which will take immediate action and inform you of the risk by flashing the SES light on the dashboard. 

  • Issue With the Engine Sensor 

Your car engine, especially BMW’s engine, comes equipped with numerous sensors, including oxygen sensors, airflow sensors, etc. If any of these engine sensors are not working properly, you can see the SES light flashing on your car’s dashboard. 

  • Damaged Spark Plugs 

Like the Diesel Particulate Filter and brake pads, another car component that could trigger the SES light and make it flash on your BMW’s dashboard is your car’s spark plugs. Though they seem minor and no one bothers if the spark plugs are old, you won’t be able to ignite your car if they are damaged. 

So, if it has been a long time since you last checked your car’s spark plugs and aren’t really sure of their current state, their damage could be one of the reasons why the SES light is flashing on the dashboard. 


Fixing the Service Engine Soon Light on BMW 

Now that you have looked at all the reasons that could make the Service Engine Soon light flash on your BMW’s dashboard let us move to some of the fixes you can try to make this light go off. 

Fix #1: Service Your Car 

As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons for you to see the SES light on your BMW’s dashboard is the overdue servicing of your car. So, if you haven’t taken your car to a service station for a long time, this indicator light is a reminder for you to do that. 

Ensure to take your car to the finest service station nearby, as you won’t want your BMW to scratch a bit. Once the servicing is done, you won’t see the SES light flashing on the dashboard anymore. 

Fix #2: Ad Blue Fluid Topping Up 

Another fix you can try to make the SES light go off is topping up the Ad Blue fluid. As we have mentioned above, the Ad blue fluid requires topping up after every 1000 miles driven. So, once you see the SES light, top up the Ad-blue fluid to fix the indicator light. 

Fix #3: Cleaning or Replacing the Diesel Particulate Filter 

As modern cars like BMW come with fitted diesel engines, you must be extremely careful of the diesel particulate filter with these cars. However, if you have already driven 125,000 miles and haven’t cleaned or replaced the filter, it’s time for you to do that to fix the SES light and make it stop appearing on the BMW’s dashboard. 

Fix #4: Checking the Fluid Levels 

Low engine fluid levels in your car give rise to many problems, and you can expect to see multiple indicator lights for the same reason from time to time. The SES light is no different and as the engine fluid level is indirectly related to your car servicing, if any of the fluid levels aren’t sufficient, you will see this indicator light flashing on your BMW’s dashboard. 

To fix this issue, keep an eye on the engine’s fluid level in your car and ensure to fill up the fluids when you see that their level is decreasing on the dashboard reading. 

Fix #5: Replacing the Gas Caps 

Another thing that can help you fix your BMW’s SES light is replacing or tightening the gas cap. Though replacing the cap isn’t the only thing you can do to fix the problem if, even after trying so hard, you cannot tighten the cap properly on the tank, it’s time for you to get a new one. 

The good news is that you don’t always need to contact a professional or take your car to a garage to replace the gas cap, as this simple task can be done at home too. However, if you haven’t done this before, you can see this YouTube tutorial: 

Fix #6: Seek Professional Help 

If even after trying all the fixes mentioned above, you still see the Service Engine Soon light flashing on your BMW’s dashboard, it’s time to seek professional help on this issue. Though more or less all the reasons we have listed above are making the light go on, it’s still best to contact a professional if everything you have tried hasn’t fixed the issue. 

You can also check the user manual you got with your car to understand the problem and devise a solution yourself. 


Conclusion – BMW “Service Engine Soon” (SES) Meaning?

In this guide, we have explored the detailed meaning of the Service Engine Soon message you might see flashing on your BMW’s dashboard in block letters. We have also looked into some of the main reasons for you to see this message on your BMW. 

Lastly, we threw light on some of the top fixes you can try to eliminate this light. Hopefully, you have learned all the things needed about the SES light and won’t be intimidated seeing these block letters flashing on your screen again. 


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