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BMW Launch Control

One key piece of information that many look for when buying a BMW, or almost any new car, is how fast it accelerates. That key statistic on how many seconds it takes to get from 0 to 60 has a lot of sway over people’s final decisions.

BMW has a secret weapon hidden within the functionality of many of its models, and that is a little something called “Launch Control.” This formidable acceleration tool may be in your BMW and you didn’t know it! First, let’s learn more about it.

BMW Launch Control

What is BMW Launch Control?

In the words of BMW — “Launch Control enables optimum acceleration on surfaces with good traction.” In simpler terms, Launch Control is an electronic driver assistance feature that turns your standing start into…well, a launch, greatly boosting the speed at which you accelerate from a stop.

Using a computer program and the innovation of an electronic accelerator, Launch Control delivers safe and optimized acceleration to drivers. It was first designed with racers in mind, but the technology has been installed in both street- and track-specification BMW cars. The system accelerates your car smoothly and quickly, without causing the drive wheels to spin.

The system is also designed to take other factors into account and prevent over-revving, as well as the potential clutch and gearbox problems.

bmw m4 rolling shot

Do all BMWs Have Launch Control?

Many believed that only BMW racing cars, and track-specification or racing-style cars like the BMW M4 coupé for example, had Launch Control installed. In fact, it appears in a wider range of models than you might first think.

While it was initially reserved for BMW M high-performance models, it became more widespread after 2013, with many non-M models receiving the technology, too. This includes lower series models like the 3 and 4 Series. If you have a BMW Car made after 2013, there’s a good chance you have Launch Control in your vehicle and perhaps don’t even know about it.

One good way to know for sure if you have this feature is to go to your infotainment screen, click on “Vehicle info,” and then on “Owner’s manual,” you can search for the term Launch Control. The manual filters out any words that don’t match an on-board feature. If your search comes up positive, then you have the feature on board.

The manual will also tell you step by step how to activate it, but just in case you aren’t keen to look it up, we’ve prepared an easy-to-follow guide below.

How do I activate BMW Launch Control?

The procedure differs ever so slightly depending on whether you’re using a BMW M model or a non-M model. Regardless of which BMW model you’re using, however, the very first thing you have to do be sure that the car is fully warmed up and has been driven around 5-6 miles. Only then should you attempt to use Launch Control.

First, we’ll explain the operation for the M model, specifically an M5:

M Models: When you have brought your BMW to a complete stop, activate Sport+ with all drive modes — engine, suspension, and steering. Next, place your left foot quite firmly on the brake pedal, and then move the gear shifter to the right so it’s in manual and in first gear.

The next step is putting the car into shift mode 3 by using the shift selector at the base of the gear shift. After that, you deactivate traction control by holding the DCS button for 3 seconds. You should see the light appear on your dash display. At this point, if you notice that the MDM light is also showing, you’ll have to go back into the menu and reactivate MDM.

At this point, you have completed the mode settings for Launch Control. Now it’s time to the pedals ready. You should still have your left foot on the brake. At the same time, hold the gear selector forward, and then push the gas pedal right down to the floor. Once it’s there, push a bit more and you’ll feel a button depress — this is where you have reached full throttle. You might be worried about fuel consumption at this point, but don’t panic, stay the course, you’re almost there. Steadily release the brake pedal to find the medium while looking at the instrument cluster. You should then see on the dash display “Launch Control Active” with a chequered flag to confirm you’re on the track.

Your moment has arrived — release the brake and the gear shift and LAUNCH!

Non-M Car (Using 335i): The basic process is the same, but there may be some subtle differences, like that DCS traction control might go off automatically when you select Sport+, or that you move the gear shifter to the left instead of the right, moving into gear S1 instead of just gear 1.

The rest of the process with the pedals and the chequered flag logo on the dash for Launch Control becoming active remains the same.

bmw launch control racing flag

Is Launch Control Bad for Your BMW?

First of all, we should start our answer to this by asking ourselves another question – would BMW install a feature like a launch mode if it were fundamentally bad for the car? Would you invest in a BMW M3 or M5 if you knew that one of the flagship features of that car was going to be detrimental? Unlikely.

The truth is that while the function is not in itself bad for the car, it is also not advisable to overuse the function. There’s no doubt that using this function will wear out the drivetrain parts at a somewhat higher rate than if you were to just set off normally every time. There’s also no doubt that fuel consumption will likely increase. It is designed as a fun feature for people to enjoy in moderation. Let’s not forget that even turning the steering wheel too hard or too abruptly can cause damage, but no one is claiming they are “bad for the BMW.”

Whether you have a regular BMW or a BMW M model, this is a device to be enjoyed, most of all. Try out Launch Control for yourself and experience the thrill of the rocket-like takeoff. Just use it in moderation! It’s a unique BMW driving experience.

bmw 435i gran coupe

How to Use BMW Launch Control

Activating BMW Launch Control: A Step-By-Step Guide

So, how do you go from sitting in your car to launching like a rocket? Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to use BMW Launch Control:

  1. Start by ensuring your BMW is fully warmed up. This is critical as the Launch Control feature only works when the car’s engine, drivetrain, and tires are at their ideal temperatures.
  2. Disable the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) by pressing and holding the DSC button until the dashboard indicator illuminates.
  3. With your foot firmly on the brake pedal, switch your gear selector to the “S” (sequential) or “M” (manual) position.
  4. Floor the accelerator pedal. The message “Launch Control Active” should appear on your display.
  5. Once you’re ready to launch, release the brake pedal while keeping the accelerator fully depressed.
  6. Enjoy your rocket-like takeoff!

Remember, this isn’t something you’d use for a casual drive to the grocery store. Launch Control is best reserved for safe environments like a racetrack, where you can truly experience the exhilarating rush of your BMW’s full power.

Common Mistakes When Using Launch Control

As thrilling as using the BMW Launch Control can be, it’s easy to trip up if you’re not careful. Here are some of the most common mistakes BMW owners make when using this feature:

  • Not warming up the car: As mentioned before, this feature only works when the car’s engine, drivetrain, and tires are at their optimal temperatures. Failing to do so might result in the feature not working correctly.
  • Overuse: The Launch Control feature is designed for occasional use, and overuse can result in excessive wear on your car’s mechanical parts.
  • Using it in unsafe conditions: Launch Control is intended for use on racetracks and other controlled environments. It’s essential to remember not to use this feature on public roads or in hazardous conditions.

Benefits of Using BMW Launch Control

Besides the adrenaline rush you get, there are a few key benefits of using the Launch Control feature on your BMW:

  • Optimal Acceleration: BMW’s Launch Control technology allows your vehicle to achieve maximum acceleration from a standstill, ensuring a quick and efficient launch.
  • Improved Performance: By regulating power distribution and preventing wheel spin, this feature enhances the car’s performance and driving dynamics.
  • Control and Stability: It offers excellent control and stability during fast accelerations, increasing both the safety and thrill of your driving experience.


Does using Launch Control damage my BMW?

While using Launch Control doesn’t inherently damage your car, excessive use can put extra strain on your vehicle’s mechanical parts and result in premature wear. So, use this feature judiciously!

Can I use Launch Control in any driving mode?

No, BMW Launch Control only works when your gear selector is in the “S” (sequential) or “M” (manual) mode.

Can I use Launch Control on any road?

Technically, you could, but it’s not advisable. It’s best to use Launch Control in a controlled environment like a racetrack. Remember, safety first!

Does every BMW model come with Launch Control?

Not all BMW models come equipped with this feature. It’s mostly found in the M series and some higher-end models.

Is it hard to use BMW Launch Control?

Not at all! With the step-by-step guide provided above, you should be launching like a pro in no time.

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