BMW Active Steering on a 5 Series

BMW Active Steering: What Is It & Does Your Car Have It?

Ever wondered about your BMW’s steering?

It’s more than just a simple turn of the wheel.

In fact, steering systems have evolved significantly over the years.

In this article, we’ll dive into what BMW Active Steering is all about.

Let’s get started!

What is BMW Active Steering?

When you hear “BMW Active Steering,” you might imagine it’s some sort of futuristic, robotic technology. And in a way, you’re not far off.

But let’s break it down in simpler terms.

Think of traditional steering as a straightforward connection. You turn the steering wheel, and the car’s wheels turn in response. Easy peasy, right?

Now, BMW’s Active Steering makes this connection smarter.

BMW Active Steering is a system that actively adjusts the steering ratio based on your car’s speed. It was introduced by BMW in 2003 and first appeared on the 5 Series.

BMW Active Steering illustration

Imagine you’re driving in a city, maneuvering through tight spots and making sharp turns. With Active Steering, the system reduces the amount you need to turn the wheel.

On the flip side, if you’re cruising on a highway at high speeds, you’d want the steering to be more stable and less sensitive.

The system knows this too! It’ll increase the steering ratio, meaning even if you make slight adjustments to the wheel, your car remains steady and doesn’t swerve dramatically.

What is BMW Integral Active Steering?

If you thought BMW Active Steering was the pinnacle of steering systems, wait a second!

There is also BMW Integral Active Steering!

The main difference between BMW Active Steering and Integral Active Steering is that Active Steering only acts on the front wheels, while Integral Active Steering uses both front- and rear-wheel steering.

When you’re at lower speeds, like driving through city streets, the rear wheels turn opposite to the front ones. This makes your car surprisingly nimble.

BMW Integral Active Steering opposite direction illustration

As you can see below, your rear wheels will turn up to three degrees to the left when making a turn to the right at under 30 mph:

BMW Integral Active Steering rearwheel view

Integral Active Steering can reduce your turning circle by about 3.28 feet!

But when you drive at speeds above 30 mph, the rear wheels turn together with the front wheels. This subtle alignment makes changing lanes at high speeds feel more controlled and secure:

BMW Integral Active Steering same direction illustration

The “integral” in Integral Active Steering is related to integrating the front and rear wheel movements. The result? Improved agility and stability!

How do you know if your BMW has Active Steering?

Remember, while Active Steering is an incredible feature, it’s not present in every BMW model.

Here are two ways to find out if your BMW has Active Steering:

  1. Use a VIN decoder. Enter your vehicle’s VIN on a VIN decoder like Then, look at the options list. If your BMW has this feature, you will see ‘Active Steering’ in the list. BMW (Integral) Active Steering has the option codes S2VHA, 2VH, or Z1A, depending on the model.
  2. Test it in practice. Park your BMW and turn your steering wheel all the way to the left (until it locks). Now turn your steering wheel all the way to the right (until it locks). If you only need two full turns, you have Active Steering. If you need more, you don’t have Active Steering.
BMW 5 Series M Sport steering wheel

BMW Active Steering vs. regular steering

Regular power steering uses hydraulic or electric assistance to make turning the wheel easier.

The main difference between BMW Active Steering and regular power steering is that BMW Active Steering changes its behavior based on your driving speed, while regular power steering maintains a consistent assistance level.

BMW Active Steering isn’t a replacement for regular power steering; think of it as an upgrade. While power steering focuses on how easy it is to turn the wheel, Active Steering focuses on how much to turn the wheels in response.

How do you fix a BMW Active Steering warning light?

Whenever you encounter a BMW Active Steering malfunction, it can lead to a lot of questions.

BMW Active Steering malfunction

What does it mean? Is my car okay? Can I still drive?

Here is what you can do whenever you get a BMW Active Steering warning light:

  1. Stay calm. First things first: don’t panic. If the light comes on while driving, you can continue to drive moderately. Only pull over when it’s possible and safe to do so.
  2. Restart your BMW. Sometimes, the simplest solution works. Turn off the engine and wait for a few moments. Restart your car. Occasionally, minor electronic glitches can trigger warning lights, and a simple restart might reset the system.
  3. Check for other warning lights. If other warning lights accompany the Active Steering light, they could offer clues. For instance, if you also notice a battery warning light, it could hint that you have to replace your car’s battery. You can also check your error codes using an OBDII reader for a more detailed analysis.
  4. Check your power steering fluid. Next, check your power steering fluid reservoir. You might need to refill it (most BMW models use CHF 11S fluid):

If the light persists or if you’re uncertain about the issue, it’s probably better to schedule a visit to a BMW service center or a trusted mechanic. They can run diagnostic tests and get to the root of the problem.


In simple words, BMW’s Active Steering makes driving not just easier but safer and more enjoyable.

Thanks for reading this article! Remember to enjoy the drive, and if you have any further questions, let us know in the comments below.

Happy driving!

Other BMW features

Interested in learning more about other BMW features? If so, take a look at these articles:

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