Is BMW battery registration a scam?

A friend needed a replacement battery for his 7-year-old BMW, and the dealer quoted him a $400 price. Part of this cost was to cover “Registration” of the new battery. Not many other car makers seem to require “registration” of replacement batteries. Is this procedure something that is vital for good car maintenance, or is it more like a scam to enable BMW dealers to grab a few more dollars from their customers?

It is not a Scam , but needs to be done for all of the highly sophisticated electrical functions in the BMW to work properly. A Google search will locate articles that can explain this registration process.

It’s not a scam, the car needs to know the age and type of battery in the car so it can charge it properly. Any shop not performing this service is lacking in technical training and ability.

This is no longer unique to European cars. This week I installed a new battery in a Ford Focus and had to use a scan tool to perform a battery relearn.

1 Like

Friend got quote for battery. did friend replace battery?can the friend get a new battery from a shop that may specialize in foreign cars and have a scan tool?

Thanks for the response but…I found the below post on some BMW forum:

"2011 e90 328i Battery Replacement $700??

Not a scam, and yes, you do need to do it, but I question whether having the car require it is really a good idea. The original batteries in my 1997 and my 2004 BMW 3-series cars lasted 8 years in Sacramento. The original battery in my 2013 BMW 328 lasted 5 years, was higher capacity, and cost twice as much. Does that sound like a new improved charging system to you?

Similarly, BMW keeps making the valve train more and more complex in the name of improved efficiency. The 2013 valve train is ten times more complex than my 1997, and replacing a valve cover gasket has gone from a 40 minute job to a 4 hour job. Was it worth it? Let’s see - the 1997 (still) gets 30 highway mpg, the 2004 gets 26 mpg, and the 2013 gets 24 mpg. What have they gained with all this cost and complexity?

And don’t get me started on BMW deciding that I don’t need an oil dipstick in the 2013…

1 Like

It is unlikely that the 1997 BMW that you have could meet the federal emissions standards just 5 years after it was manufactured, the changes in complexity involve more than just fuel economy.

The 1997 328 has a highway fuel economy rating of 24 MPG, the 2013 328 has a rating of 33 MPG, it seems that fuel economy has improved for other people but for some reason not for you.

Apologize for pirating the thread, but now my interest is piqued and in fairness, I have to admit that my experience may not be typical because of my specific car choices. My 2013 is a convertible (heavy) naturally aspirated 6 cyl which is a comparable engine to the older cars but not the highest mileage choice for that year. My reported numbers are highway trips, so they all are better than the “Avg Driver Reported” numbers

From EPA Avg Driver Reported
1997 328i manual transmission: 18/26 : 28.1
2004 330i automatic transmission 18/27 16
2013 328i conv. Automatic 18/26 17

I wish I had historical SMOG check HC/CO/NOx numbers for the older cars but I recently cleaned out my files. The 1997 has 330k miles on it. I seriously doubt that the 2013 will be running and emitting anything at 330k miles. It will be too expensive to maintain that long.

What a joke. I’d be ticked off if I spent that kind of money on a high end car that had such a lame restriction. First of all, they cheaped out and used a software algorithm to guess at the charge level instead of designing an electronic circuit to actually measure the state of charge. On top of all that, they didn’t provide a cheap and easy way to reset the algorithm that anyone can do. Why not do it the same way many oil change resets are done- just KOEO and pump gas pedal X times to reset the darn thing? An AGM battery is not rocket science but they’re treating it like some mysterious voodoo that only trained service providers can be trusted to deal with it…


Twin Turbo make a lot of sense. The reason that I thougt that some sort of BMW scamduggery might be involved is that if the type and condition if a new battery was so critical, it should be something the car’s on-board electronic sensors could determine, and adjust the charging rate accordingly. A “self-registration” so to speak. Also, I saw a post from a Bimmer owner who claimed his battery went dead, and a dealer quoted him $700 to replace it…$250 for the new battery, and $450 for the installation and registration work. If true, this cost seems to be so far beyond excessive it has become criminal.



That price mentioned in DaveMazz’s post is accurate. When the battery failed in the wifemobile, I found that no one else in town carried that exact specification battery, and I did not know how important it might be to to exactly match the battery with this fancy charging system. Also, I did not own a scan tool capable of registering a new battery in this car, so I paid the dealer $700 to replace it. Ouch!

I believe that high-end aftermarket scan tools will perform the BMW battery registration

So, in my opinion, it can’t rationally be argued that this is some kind of scam to keep yet more in-house

While the mpgs may have dropped, I expect the engine power and 0-60 acceleration times have probably improved. I can’t speak to the OP’s battery registration query, first time I’ve heard of that, but my impression from the posts we get here is that if your objective is to keep maintenance and repair costs lower, buy a Toyota or Honda, not a BMW.


“Not a scam, and yes, you do need to do it, but I question whether having the car require it is really a good idea.”

Well said. Raises some questions about the car itself and if it is worth investing in if it has this and similar proprietary tech issues.

Ah yes. Questions I ask myself frequently…

BMW control the charging of the battery with the computer instead of relying only on voltage regulator.

If the computer is charging the wrong battery becasue you didn’t register it, it will overcharge or undercharge it.

What you can do is replace the battery yourself then either take it to the dealer or do the registration yourself. It will cost you about $150 either way. To do it yourself you will need a scanner that can carry battery registration.

Just search “BMW battery registration instruction on youcanic” for a step by step guide.

1 Like

HINT: don’t buy German!!!1

Could a great deal of the “special maintenance” required on luxury/performance cars be based on giving and “aura of exclusiveness” to the brand and an assurance that the dealership’s service department will have a good flow of paying customers.

Of course the McParts store counter men will be happy that they don’t need to install batteries in BMW trunks. That’s a real plus for them.

Care and feeding of a lead-acid battery isn’t rocket science.
“Smart” systems can save a little energy (and fuel consumption) by reducing overcharge.
This registration jazz seems to me to be way down on the curve of diminishing returns.

But an AGM battery is a different story, isn’t it? So the BMW needs to know whether the car is using a lead acid or AGM. And since AGM batteries require a different charge strategy as they age the car needs to know how old the battery is.

My wife drives a late model car and it’s perfectly normal to be driving down the highway and have the battery voltage drop to 12.4 for a while. That’s because the car is smart enough to maintain the battery properly.