Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,516 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 BMW 325 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 BMW 325 Owner Comments

problem #11

Oct 292010

325 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


My 2003 325I BMW has a defect in the transmission which caused it to, without warning, lose its ability to go into reverse. I was returning to philadelphia from nyc several days ago. I pulled over for gas. When I put the car into reverse, the transmission acted like it is in neutral. The engine would rev but was not engaged. The car has only 70K miles on it. The problem is widespread in owners of early 2000 bmws and results from a reverse drum that is poorly manufactured and not sufficiently thick around the edges. Apparently, BMW corrected the manufacturing problem in 2003. It never shared info about the issue with prospective owners, in effect selling cars under false pretense. Please visit and you will see hundreds of complaints about this issue. It is a safety issue because the driver may be in a dangerous position and need to reverse for get out of harm's way. BMW should have recalled all of these defective transmissions. I cannot afford to repair the car and so it is simply sitting on my street.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #10

Oct 102009


  • 60,000 miles
I was the previous owner of a BMW 325I that I have been told needs a new transmission. Age - 2003, miles 60,000. It's unacceptable that a car with so low miles, has been maintained and driven gently has experienced this problem. After searching on the web, I find that this is a recurring problem with BMW's. why has nothing been done? how can BMW say this is not their issue when clearly this is a problem with their cars. I'm spending an additional 6,000 on this car. I recently purchased a brand new BMW and sold the 325 to a close friend. I replaced the transmission as I could not expect them to pay for it. Prior to the sale, the car checked out with BMW. Little did I know 2 wks later it would have this problem which appears to be a standard problem with BMW. I regret that I bought a new one.

- Smyrna, GA, USA

problem #9

Mar 192009


  • 100,000 miles
I went to start my vehicle in the morning and it started and then turned back off on its own. This happened about 3 times, before it stayed on. I then drove the vehicle about 40 miles and the transmissions started to thump. The vehicle only has 100K miles. I kept up on all its maintenance. I took the vehicle to the dealership and the transmission light and check engine light both came on. I was informed it would cost 6,500 to repair my transmission.

- Tobyhanna, PA, USA

problem #8

Apr 062008

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


I have a formerly pristine BMW 325I 2003 with 70kmi that had a sudden, catastrophic transmission failure for unidentifiable reasons while being driven near sacramento. The car was towed to a BMW dealer in sacramento who claimed they had "never seen anything like it", yet has over 20 pages of complaints about this specific problem. Unfortunately, though we were able to locate a used transmission, the dealer refused to install anything other than a brand new unit at the cost of $6,000. Clearly there is something defective in these transmissions. It appears that BMW of North american has refused to accept any responsibility.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #7

Jul 182001

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
Delay in transmission engagement (20-30 seconds) when cold. Hazard on hill and entering traffic.

- Spicewood, TX, USA

problem #6

Nov 112006

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
Please refer to fr doc 04-10644. My problem concerns this exact issue with my 2003 BMW X5, ie, delayed park to drive engagement on cold start. On 11-11-06 I backed out of my drive (I live on a corner lot) and immediately am at a stop sign. I pulled out, but the transmission would not fully engage in drive and as a result I came within inches of being smashed by a truck that was coming down the road I was entering. In the document mentioned above it was determined that the defect was not a safety hazard. You were wrong. In this document BMW argued that they had a technical service bulletin sib 24 07 03 to correct this situation by installing a new transmission. Unfortunately, in July '04 they revised this tsb to reprogram the egs module (increasing the pressure in the transmission so it takes longer to leak down) and not to put in new transmissions. I have had my X5 reprogrammed by BMW and it did no good. I had a BMW customer service advisor tell me that the reprogramming was a partial fix but did not solve the problem. He said it was a matter of money for BMW. My car is still under factory warranty. I bought it used. The BMW representative, jeff fitz, then had the nerve to tell me if I had bought the car new I would have a better chance of getting a new transmission. He said I should think about learning to live with the problem since his experience is that the new transmissions are not satisfactory either. I ask that you review your findings on the basis that BMW is not correcting the safety problem as indicated in fr doc 04-10644.

- Orangeburg, SC, USA

problem #5

Oct 012004

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles


While driving 2003 325xi on county hiway slowed down to make right turn to about 15-20 mph. Halfway through the turn loud noise emitted from transmission area (previous failure of trans. Comp. Module @ 1500 miles-replaced by dealer) and vehicle locke up, hard enough for myself and my wife to move forward against the seat belts. Pressed on accelarator, motor running but would not respond. Dodge truck struck my vehicle in rear, driver and witnesses saw no brake lights or other indication I was stopped other than not moving forward. Shut car off. Had to restart car to move same to side of road, respnded normally. Towed to dealer, unable to find anything abnormal. BMW to send engineer to shop.

- Vernon, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jun 082004


  • miles
Vehicle thrusts forward despite the brake pedal being depressed. Consumer had to press both feet to keep vehicle from jumping into the intersection. Also, consumer had to shift gear from drive to neutral.

- Champaign, IL, USA

problem #3

Nov 022003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75 miles
2003 bought brand new. Automatic transmission does not engage in the mornings. After parking car in garage overnight, the car is put went into reverse and backed out without stepping on the gas (driveway is sloped). After shifting into drive, the car lags anywhere from 3 to 10 seconds before there is any power to drive. This is specially dangerous when there is traffic.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 182003

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles
Automatic transmission on 2003 325I jerks when downshifts while braking. A laud thud can be heard on lower speeds.

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #1

Apr 042003

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,600 miles
1. transmission: After transmission repair, constant hard downshifting of automatic transmission when coming to a stop in D and S D modes. Vehicle jerks forward when decelerating between speeds of 42 to 35 mph (usually when driven before with speeds in excess of 50 miles an hour). Also, after transmission repair, constant loud thumping noise when coming to a stop 2. engine:intermittent loud engine revving and immediate torque loss occurring when taking off from a stop.intermittent delayed engine start of up to 3 seconds after turning key in ignition.intermittent prm idle fluctuation resulting in vehicle shuddering 3. brakes:loud break squeaking when coming to a stop 4. fuel tank / fuel pump:after defective fuel tank/pump replacement, recurrence of loud whining noise ( confirmed with BMW of North America) 5. cd player: Intermittent built-in business cd player skipping 6.steering wheel: Steering wheel creaking when turning.

- Walnut Creek, CA, USA

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