BMW CarPlay Not Working? – 5 Practical Solutions

BMW CarPlay Not Working - featured image

Apple CarPlay is a digital interface that uses your iPhone to connect to your BMWs infotainment system.

It lets you use your phone as a remote control and interact with apps like Maps, Messages, and Music through voice or touchscreen commands, but only when it’s working!

Your BMW’s Apple CarPlay unit may not work for various reasons, such as incompatibility issues, integration problems between apps, iOS update issues, or a faulty USB cable. Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity problems and your car’s inability to detect iPhone are other potential issues.

BMW Wireless Carplay & Android Auto

Your CarPlay may not work properly if you have specific issues with your BMW or if other factors affect the connection between your iPhone and the car.

So, why is my BMW Apple CarPlay not working?

Incompatibility | USB Connection | Connectivity | Updates | Integrations | Specific Car Makes | Specific iPhone models

Read on to learn the causes of why your BMW CarPlay may not be working and their fixes.

 

1. Incompatibility Issues

Apple CarPlay, not working problems can be due to incompatibility issues.

Some iPhones may not support Apple CarPlay, while others require specific cables for proper connection.

For instance, only iPhones 5’s and upwards support CarPlay. See the full list of compatible models:

Some common incompatibility issues that may lead to BMW CarPlay not working properly include: 

  • App incompatibility 
  • Device compatibility 
  • Hardware incompatibility

 

Apple CarPlay may also not be available in some country locations. As Seen below:

Apple CarPlay not working - Country Compatibility

If you are using an aftermarket stereo (not the factory one installed by BMW – iDrive), it may not be compatible or has outdated firmware installed.

Check the manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to complete a firmware update.

If you have recently replaced your car’s infotainment system with a new model, or if you have recently installed a new device in your vehicle (like an aftermarket navigation device), this can cause problems with the compatibility between your Apple CarPlay and the new device.

The car’s infotainment system may be old and doesn’t support Apple CarPlay. 

BMW only started supporting compatibility in 2016 onwards, and at this time, it was an optional add-on. Nowadays, it should be in all new models, though.

How To Fix It

Check if CarPlay is compatible with your BMW stereo. If unsure, contact your vehicle manufacturer or check the car’s user manual.

You can buy an aftermarket stereo from brands such as JVC, Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, or Clarion if your car stereo isn’t compatible. Although this can be a little more complicated for BMWs as they have protruding displays in most models. 

  • Make sure your iPhone model is supported (iPhone 5 and upwards).
  • Make sure your country supports CarPlay (See here).

2. BMW – USB Connection Issues

Another common issue is that the car’s and phone’s USB connection is not working properly.

Sometimes, Apple CarPlay is not working when plugged in could result in your device not being connected to the correct port. 

Most BMWs come with multiple USB connections, which may not necessarily connect your car to CarPlay. Only one will be used for data transfer.

BMWs usually have a USB TYPE A or USB TYPE C  in the center console area or below the armrest. As seen below:

Make sure you’re not plugged into a cigarette lighter or wireless charging pad, as this won’t work.

Your infotainment system may also not work if you use a faulty USB cable that is frayed or broken.

Aftermarket USB cables may also not work with your device, so you must ensure that you use a high-quality USB cable that is MFI certified.

How To Fix It

If your CarPlay is not working due to an issue with the USB connection, you can try some potential solutions before contacting Apple support.

Some of these solutions include:

  • Removing and reinserting the USB cable.
  • Replacing the USB cable if it appears worn out. (A common issue causing CarPlay to keep disconnecting)
  • Replacing an aftermarket USB cable with a high-quality one.
  • Ensure there is no “fluff” in the car’s USB port or the iPhone charging point. (Watch this for how to remove the “fluff”)
USB port location in a BMW
USB port locations in a BMW

My personal favorite USB cable for CarPlay is the Belkin BoostCharge Pro Flex because of its quality and versatility. As seen in the image below:

3. BMW CarPlay Connectivity Issues

Note: A BMW Wireless CarPlay solution only

Apple CarPlay can be connected wirelessly, a BMWs infotainment system that uses your iPhone to play audio and video.

The most common issue people have faced with BMW Wireless CarPlay is the inability to connect their iPhones via Bluetooth / wifi.

Sometimes, the connection between your car’s entertainment system and your phone can get corrupted for various reasons.

Connectivity can also be interrupted by something else, such as a call or text message, even causing lower-quality audio.

Sometimes, Apple CarPlay does not work because of the wifi connection issue, which can happen when your phone’s wifi connection is turned off or interrupted while using Apple CarPlay in your car.

In addition, other Bluetooth devices connected to your phone may also interfere with connectivity.

How To Fix It

Sometimes, fixing connectivity issues requires you to turn on your phone’s wifi connection or restart the app to fix this problem.

Unpair all devices connected to your phone that may interrupt the connection between your car’s infotainment system and the phone. 

You can also try unpairing the phone from the car and try pairing it again. Ensure your phone is not on “airplane mode” and your Bluetooth is turned on.

If you are getting errors such as “Apple CarPlay connection failed,” you will need to follow these steps and see if it works.

4. iOS Update Issues

A common cause of Apple CarPlay not working is an iOS update issue.

If you get iOS update errors, such as “iPhone could not be found” or “the iPhone could not be activated,” you will need to update your CarPlay iOS to the latest version.

There are also reports that CarPlay is not working after an update.

In this case, it is likely a bug and should be fixed in a future update unless using a third-party accessory such as a wireless CarPlay adapter.

Some BMWs also have specific requirements for their systems. For example, some systems might require an iOS 5 or later, while others require an iOS 11 or later.

How To Fix

If your BMW CarPlay stops working, ensure that the iOS is up-to-date and compatible with the latest version of the CarPlay App.

If you are using a new device, make sure it is updated to the latest version of iOS before trying to connect it to your car.

To update your iPhone & CarPlay’s iOS, follow these steps:

  1. Back up your data and files and ensure your phone is fully powered and connected to wifi.
  2. Tap “settings” on your device and head to “General.”
  3. Tap the software update menu and begin the IOS update by pressing “Install Now.”

 

apple carplay cant hear phone calls update iphone screenshot
 

5. App Integration Problems 

It’s not uncommon for Apple CarPlay to stop working due to integration issues between apps.

Understanding this could help you get it back up and running again.

CarPlay may not work due to integration problems between the CarPlay app and the car’s stereo system.

It usually happens when a third-party stereo system is only compatible with an older version of iOS or if the stereo needs a newer version of iOS than what is currently installed on your device. 

Or if you are struggling with an iPhone app not working with CarPlay, it may be because it is not compatible or broken because the developers haven’t updated it.

For example, people often expect there to be a SoundCloud CarPlay app, but it’s not compatible. 

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto – SoundCloud carplay Help Center
 

And a once popular CarPlay email app no longer works because the devs have not kept it up to date.

How To Fix It

If you are wondering why CarPlay is not working in your car, it could be an integration problem between apps.

Check that all apps on your infotainment system are compatible with Apple CarPlay and that your iPhone’s iOS is up-to-date.

How To Troubleshoot Your BMW CarPlay Not Working

Several other potential issues that you may experience with your BMWs Apple CarPlay include.

See the following articles to learn more about these issues:

If your Apple CarPlay is not working correctly, you may need to troubleshoot your device and figure out the source of the problem.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that everything is up and running properly.

  1. The first thing to do if you’re having trouble connecting your car to your phone is to ensure that your phone is compatible with Apple CarPlay.
  2. Check to ensure that your wireless connections are working correctly, i.e., Bluetooth and wifi. (If using wireless CarPlay)
  3. Restart your phone and infotainment system to see if this will clear the errors you are experiencing.
  4. Ensure that your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version and that it is compatible with your BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. (The default BMW system should be fine, though).
  5. Check the cable connection between your phone and car to ensure it’s firmly plugged into the correct port on the car’s infotainment system, as well as being MFI certified.
  6. Try connecting your iPhone to a different port on the infotainment system if it doesn’t work from one port.
  7. Try forgetting and re-establishing your CarPlay connection.
  8. Ensure that your BMW stereo firmware is up-to-date.
  9. Reset your iPhone settings and see if it works.
  10. If you are still experiencing trouble with your Apple CarPlay even after trying these fixes, you will need to contact Apple Support or a BMW dealer for further assistance.

 

BMW 3 series Head unit area
 

Specific iPhone Solutions for BMW CarPlay

You may be thinking about why your specific model of iPhone is not working; however, generally, there will be no difference or reason for the issues between iPhone models as they all use the same IOS software.

Just make sure you make an iPhone 5 and upwards, as older models are not compatible. 

Although if you have an iPhone 5, CarPlay will probably be VERY slow.

These iPhone models are currently compatible:

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5

 

You used to have to pay for BMW CarPlay. However, the $80 yearly charge is now free, so this should be a reason why your BMW carplay isn’t working. 

BMW Carplay Not Working: Frequently Asked Questions

See some commonly asked questions if you’re struggling to figure out why CarPlay might not be working.

How do I restart my BMW CarPlay?

To reset your BMW CarPlay, press and hold the middle power button for around 30 seconds. But in most instances, the issue should be resolved by turning the car off and back on.

Why does my BMW CarPlay only work sometimes?

If Apple carplay is only working sometimes, this is probably an issue with your connection. If it’s a wired connection, check your charger is working well. If using wireless CarPlay, “forget the device” and fully reconnect like new. 

Final Thoughts

Apple CarPlay is a system that allows drivers to use their iOS devices while driving. It provides a safer and more convenient way for drivers to use their iPhones and iPads without keeping their eyes off the road.

It provides a great way to stream music, make calls, and more. It also has many benefits for drivers by providing turn-by-turn navigation and other safety features, but only when working as intended.

If your BMW CarPlay has stopped working, try the above fixes to continue enjoying its convenience and reliability.

Alex
Alex

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system!

Founder
StereoUpgrade.com

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