Project E46 M3: Part 8 – The dreaded EML Light
Today, the car is running great.  But let us update you regarding a little issue we've been battling over the past year-and-a-half, and thankfully got resolved.

Project M3, Part 8: The Dreaded EML Light

(and what to do about it)

by Pablo Mazlumian

We apologize for the eight-month hiatus with Project E46 M3, but we’ve been hard at work and—even though we had an issue we didn’t tell you about over the past year—the car is now running like a champ.  We’ve even dyno tested a new performance part and added a bunch of tasteful exterior and interior upgrades, but we’ll have more on that soon.  Today we’ll talk about the aforementioned issue that we took care of.

If you haven’t seen the yellow “EML” light on your BMW E46, it’s probably only a matter of time.  It stands for Elektronische Motorleistungsregelung, and it can mean a myriad of “electronic engine power control” issues, mostly having to do with the drive-by-wire system.

Ahh, yes.  The fun EML light.  In Project M3’s case, when this light would come on, the car would shut itself off in a matter of roughly 3 seconds and not start back up.  The engine would turn over but there would be no fuel or ignition, as if we had a dead ECU.  Not fun if you're not sure what to do.

Yes, that’s the windshield fluid low-level indicator, which is empty (because I accidentally drilled a hole through it while putting on a splitter I'll be sharing with you soon).  And yes, that’s also the airbag light, which seems to rear its ugly head on each of the five M3s I’ve owned.  I’m just so used to seeing it that I don’t worry about it any more.


The most common part to go wrong in the EML circuit is for one of the Throttle Position Sensors (TPS) to go bad, and the one you hope to be malfunctioning is this one—the #1 TPS—which is right above the air filter.  It’s just the easiest one to swap out.

The first time I had the EML light come on, it was right after our Corsa exhaust and VAC Motorsport pulleys swap, which was prior to the AEM Infinity EMS installation.  At first, it was puzzling because I’d swapped out TPS #1 and the car ran well, only to have the light come back within a week or two.


When you swap out the TPS, be careful not to strip the Phillips screws, which are weak-sauce.  I later replaced them with these socket head cap screws, which have an Allen head, size M4 0.7 x 25mm.

Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks the EML light would come on at times, and the car would stall again.  I had hoped that the new AEM Infinity install in Part 6 would clear this, things unfortunately didn’t change.  But then it drove fine for months again.  So far, so weird.

It wasn’t until my wife and I took a road trip last November, 2013, from Kansas City to St. Louis (to watch Argentina take on Bosnia/Herzegovina in a FIFA soccer friendly—holy cow there are a lot of Bosnians in St. Louis!) that I figured out what was going on, or so I thought.  First I’d thought we were stuck on the side of the road for good, and our weekend was ruined.  Luckily, we both figured out—OK she spotted it, and wants my readers to know it—that pulling fuse #29, and reinserting it with the key off cleared the EML light (I recently also realized that pulling TPS #1 and plugging it back in would do the same trick).  This trick would work, but only for 20minutes or so.



  1. i have an EML issue in my bmw 323i e46, model 2002 and ive change the entire engine and it wont just go off, what do i do ? amimiservices is me mail, please can anyone help

  2. I just wanted to say, “Thank you.” My 2000 328ci went into “limp mode w/EML light on” while driving home, the other day. I was able to get off the freeway, and safely park. While I was wondering what the heck was happening, I started searching for solutions, and that is how I found y’all’s website.

    Although I don’t have an M5, I was able to pop the fuses, that got my vehicle acting normal, and I was able to get home. That piece of information was priceless.

    Now, I am chasing down what caused the issue. So, last night a buddy and I removed and cleaned the mass airflow sensor, idle control valve, and throttle body. Unfortunately, I thought there might have been a throttle position sensor somewhere within all that removal process, but there wasn’t. I also thought that there may have been one attached to the throttle body, and there wasn’t.

    To keep a long story short, I put everything back together, cleared all my fail codes, and all seems, “so fas, so weird.” All in all, thank you for taking the time to document your fails and victories, so other may benefit. Rock on!

    1. Hi, so what did fix the eml light? Mine just tirned on the other day. I was letting yhe car warm up. Suddenly the car died and when i restarted it, the eml light was on and seem to be misfiring.

  3. What a great article. I have a 2000 E46 328Ci doing exactly the same thing. I will take this article to my mechanic at Bavarian Motor Tune Services (BMTS) in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and ask him to emulate your course of action to possibly rectify this dreaded fault. Cheers mate.

  4. Hi i have a e46 320i 1999 model and have the same eml and traction control light at the same time on and then it will go in limp mode.its been going on sins last wheek but in the 1st day or so i only switch the car of and start it again and the light will go away for 3 or 4 days but now im stuck in limp mode and swithing it of doesent seems to work no more.can any one pls help?????????

  5. Hello, i truly need help. My brother has a bmw e46 (1999) and the eml comes on after a while and goes into limp mode. He changed the air massfillter but the mechanic was unable to erase the error code. He is now pulling the fuse 29 but what else can he do. He really needs his car for work… Any advise would be appreciated.

  6. hi. would start with changing out the TPMS sensors. cheap and easy to get to. Current owner of this lroject car had it happen again and it cleared it right up. Hope this helps.

  7. Hi, I have a BMW e46 ( 2000) and am having EML issues. It first started with fuel not returning from d second tank and I changed the fuel pump and the return verve and it was perfect for like an hour but discovered the the car started misfiring again the moment the eml light came up again. Please, I need urgent help!

    1. Other than making sure you read the entire article, you’re unfortunately in a position to start diagnosing. Much like Pablo’s process, it’s just a matter of going down the list of related components and eliminating them one at a time. Sorry we don’t have an easy answer for you.

  8. I’ve got an 05 M3 zcp 6spd and I’ve replaced the TPS #1 with a new BMW sensor, I’ve got a new throttle actuator (BMW), and swapped multiple pedal assemblies, changed the MAF, cleaned the throttle bodies, and even changed the DME !! I still have an EML light and get TPS codes. All the fuses are perfect and the car has a new battery and new alternator and new belts, pulleys, and idlers (all BMW) I have a genuine EML nightmare. The car used to randomly buck on throttle once in a blue moon until it got more and more prevalent. This has been going on for well over a year now.

    Any input would be much appreciated. Maybe I missed something ? Something to recheck ? Thanks.

  9. Wow glad all bmw owners share in this subject. Only hav had Suv 3 fir 6 months. Just got out of shop w electrical issues $2400 later few weeks after driving back from lake two hours on road for car bog down like I shifted into lie then was fine. 10 minutes later did it again but then the EML light and ck engine light flashed on then off.
    Fifteen min later happened again and thought car was going to stall. Pulled off road read up on what might b going on. Drive at 60 mph and it didn’t happen fir rest of hour trip. Went arrived at home attached diagnostics plug in. Showed no error code.
    Had son who is master certification auto mechanic ck car out to no avail. Car ran fine during trial drive. Going ck and replace censor. Luv car but this seems to B major issue with BMW a.

  10. thanks guys for sharing good info had also my eml light on will most defnat trying out all shared info keep doing well guys u rock

    1. Ainut mikä on hyvä systeemi ja vika poistuu on ,viedä auto paaliin.👍meillä on ollu e46 325i -99 ja ei ole ollut muuta kun vikaa.

  11. Hi, I have a BMW e46 ( 2000) and am having EML issues. I am experiencing rough idling cylinder 2 n 6 misfiring.I changed petrol pump,plugs,petrol filter and all vacuum pipes and ensuring no air leaks.Please, I need urgent help!

    1. Regarding spark issues, I am assuming you changed out coil packs too, as this can be an issue with lots of cars, not just BMWs. You can start by swapping them and seeing if the spark issue is still with #’s 2 and 6. And, if it’s like with E36, there is a plug for all six wires going to the coil packs (so make sure that is screwed on tight–happened to me once with my E36). Regarding EML, I can’t think of anything else other than replacing what we discussed in article and above in the comments already: TPMS sensor at the front of the motor, throttle actuator (should be under your intake manifold like with this car, I’d imagine) and then the TPMS sensor at the throttle pedal, but the whole pedal assembly itself is pretty inexpensive. Good luck

      1. I have replaced the mass air flow sensor with a brand new pieberg one and the dreaded EML light not going off.Put the car on the computer and the error code P 1509 ,P 1550,P0505 Idle Speed Control valve opening coil and closing code.I have dealt with the air leaks and the circuits are still original but still the EML light on.What else can i look at

        1. Yeah sorry but not sure here. All of my EML issues with throttle related, hence the parts I had to replace to make it go away. In your case sounds like a simple idle control valve replacement if you haven’t already. It’s like $100-200.

          1. Worst case scenario I would consider would be a leak around the gasket of the heater core , if it would be like the heart of the problem. I’m dealing with a similar issue kind of : The details ☆ basically I had to evacuate my 325 ci with knowing of its almost completion as far the mechanical issues, the registration at the time of purchase I had to lift the lein sale from a prior owner.
            Thus far I swopped the water pump to Stewart so the Circulation PSI should be up like 20% new hoses new aftermarket pulley new radiator expansion tank both belts serpentine and accessory coolant sensor valve and ECT, NEW oil with Mann filter. Both thermostats Initially the problem during purchase was a over heating issue not constantly but after being driven with a misfire on only cylinder four which pointed to ignition coils on the OBD and lein fuel in both lanes 1&2., what I decided to do to avoid driving it was wait for the ignition coils til last and just line up its completion based off of difficulty and access points. To get the job for the most part in a few hours and just stock up on the parts. Still had some small vap leaks from underneath the coolant thermostat under the expansion tank, so i was trying to seal it with like some permanent fixture like JBWELD LET IT SET then some marine water adhesive that can withstand a high pressure and an excessive amount of heat in case of emergency. Not like gorilla glue or nothing like that, but better, more durable…. that way if any issues were to happen i would just got ahead and swop out the expansion tank with a new mount the whole shibang at onetime with out the radiator, the origins of the discovered problem was underneath the expansion tank that was in it, there was no coolant level sensor, which i thought was realy retarded so i was keen with the oil when i swopped it out for the first time, perfect smell all black synthetic oil no grey color or sign if a blown head gasket , the motors pretty protective and thats why i like the bimmer conversion, So as I was driving the 325 ci racing the flood because i didnt Wana lose the investment in a natural disaster The first 17 miles was sweet longest I’ve ever driven it. Was pushin about 85 riding clean I got to about 25 miles in and Thermostat on the dash peaked to the red , kept driving and it stalled out with the thermometer flatlined,…pushed it through the intersection safely had a tow pull up the night after got it to the safe destination, now I’m wondering if after that excessive heating took place if the ignition coils completely went out or lost spark…I’m still able to turn over and hear it crank but it’s not starting, also whenever I would connect the MAF the idle would go completely off so I know I wanna do the MAF maybe up the intake with the distributors maybe get its first new battery. It drives like it probably did in 2007 128k miles on it, I didn’t wanna have to drive it and rush the patch. But another thing is that the heater doesn’t work so I’m tryna figure out if I needa go heater core, I could always just get a plug in heater for inside portable i looked a couple of those up so I wouldn’t have to hit the cars system with the wattage just the battery maybe. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

  12. Congratulations on successfully resolving the issue. i have a e46 325i with motor 330i it has sporadically error INPA 211 valve closed idling, already changed the valve, checked all the connections. But still the Traction Light and EML turn on when I’m downshifting below 2500RPM. when I take my foot off the accelerator, for example an intersection or speed camera

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