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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,517 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 330 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 BMW 330 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Oct 012003


  • 100,000 miles


The low beam reflectors on 2003-2004 zkw hid headlights were made of some material that degraded when subjected to the heat produced by oem xenon bulbs. This results in a significant decrease in light output as the reflector became scorched. I don't know the exact ins and outs, but I would imagine that BMW and zkw were and are aware of the defect as the newer, redesigned headlights do not suffer from this problem.

- Wynantskill, NY, USA

problem #43

Sep 262015


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. While driving approximately 65 mph, the passenger side headlight caught fire. The contact extinguished the fire. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the headlight needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000. The VIN was not available.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #42

Sep 252014

330 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
This car suffers from the known burnt xenon low beam bowls, its impossible to see anything at night and is not safe. This needs to be recalled by BMW immediately, headlights have been adjusted properly and new bulbs were put in and does not cure the problem. Its very common for these xenon headlights to have this problem in alot of 2003+ BMW 3 series.

- Hortonville, WI, USA

problem #41

May 262014

330 6-cyl

  • 83,482 miles


Bi-xenon headlights manufactured by zkw have a serious design defect. After only 80,000 miles, the headlights are almost completely ineffective at night time. Upon inspection, the reflective bowl in the headlight assembly was burnt, blackened and melted. Not only is this a safety issue for driving at night, but it could potentially be a fire hazard. Upon doing some research, this appears to be a serious problem, evidenced by many complaints on various BMW message forums. Something needs to be done about this before it leads to fire or accident.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #40

Jul 172014


  • 96,000 miles
Xenon headlights. Dim to dark at best. Work when they want.

- Norwich, CT, USA

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problem #39

May 202014


  • 197,300 miles
There is limited light output from the xenon/hid headlight assemblies due to "melted" projector bowls from BMW. This is a serious safety defect that prevents end users from being able to see the road and objects ahead of them.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #38

Oct 142009


  • 90,000 miles


I'm contacting you to express my frustration with the quality of the BMW xenon headlight. The xenon low beams started to dim and are now useless. Through google I found out that this is a very common problem since the plastic reflector/projector bowls just burn out. The light output is now too low to be safe at night.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #37

Mar 012013

330 6-cyl

  • miles
The headlights on the car seems to be very dim. The amount of light that comes out of the headlights looks slightly brown and pretty dark as compared to many other cars on the road. I believe that the headlights were designed with plastic and which case the bulb would cause things to burn over time.

- Hadley, MA, USA

problem #36

Jan 022012

330 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Oem projector headlights burnt behind projector causing very dim lights.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #35

Nov 012012

330 6-cyl

  • 115,650 miles
My tail lights and turn signals work for a while then quite working. The exact same symptoms as recall #11V438000 for the same type, model and year as my car, but BMW says my vehicle is not included.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #34

Dec 012010


  • 120,000 miles


About 2 or so years ago I started to notice my night driving was becoming unpleasant and unsafe due to the fact that my headlights were losing output. After replacing the plastic lenses new from BMW I then went on to buying new bulbs thinking that would make a diff. It didn't. 10-12-12 today my lights are yellow/foggy on the inside like smoke has made the lenses opaque and my output is barely seen, I looked on the back where the bulb is inserted and it sure looks brown in there, I get more light reflected on the ground when I turn my turn signals than I do on the headlights. After going online and searching, my car came from factory with a defect zkw xenon headlight system, which 99% of the zkw headlight owners of E46 sedans found online have the same issue, all you have to do is google "E46 zkw burnt bowls". I have a 4 month old little girl, I cannot imagine driving with her in the car on a rainy night and my concern is now my baby. I can send you pictures if needed please, thank you for reading and I appreciate your help.

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #33

Mar 012009

330 6-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
Car is equipped with optional, factory-installed, bi-xenon headlamp assemblies made by zkw. The projector bowls inside, which greatly magnify the light output of the bulb, are made of a plastic that cannot handle the heat of the xenon bulb. As a result, the reflective surface burns and turns brown. In doing so, the light output is greatly reduced to a dangerous level. This problem affects both high and low beam operation. Situation gets progressively worse over time. The plastic bowls are not sold separately, therefore the only solution is to purchase new headlamp assemblies, at an approximate cost of $1,900 for the pair.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #32

May 012012

330 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Burned headlight reflector bowl on 2003 "zkw" headlight housings. Headlamp output severely diminished. Also equipped on 03-05 3-series.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #31

May 012012

330 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Burned headlight reflector bowl on 2003 "zkw" headlight housings. Headlamp output severely diminished. Also equipped on 03-05 3-series.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #30

Mar 242012

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Due to the plastic bowels in the headlight projectors, which are chrome like lined, and the high heat of the hid bulbs, this chrome like coating has burned off making the light output of my hid head lights very dim. The outside of the bowels have gone from a chrome like coating to a bronze/caramel color/coating. This problem is very obvious. I have had other vehicles with hid headlights, and the light output of those cars is easily double or more, to the point where alot of times I have to drive with my fog lights on just to light the road up to be able to see well enough so that I don't have a accident. I have pictures I took of the discolored bowels im talking about on my phone that I would be able to send.

- Glenn Heights, TX, USA

problem #29

Feb 242012

330 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
I have encountered a failure of the factory xenon headlamp assembly. I have had reduced visibility as a result of a burnt bulb housing that did not make itself readily apparent. Because there is no remedy outside of replacing the poorly designed housing, I have a concern of the safety of myself, my occupants, and others on the road. A failed bulb is understandable maintenance. A failed headlamp assembly due to burning and cracking the plastic lens from so much heat is not. This is a poor design, and should warrant a recall.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #28

Jan 022012


  • 50,000 miles
Zkw xenon headlight reflector bowl is burned resulting in very dim light output. I am often afraid of driving at night because I feel it is a danger to my safety.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #27

Jun 012011


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 323. The contact stated that the headlights would flicker on and off. The turn signal light would also flicker abnormally. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where they advised him that the taillight assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights). The failure mileage was approximately 150,000.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #26

Jan 012010

330 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
The BMW E46 (3 series BMW) that was made from 1999 to 2006. In some cases during these years they used a lighting manufacturer "zkw" for their xenon headlights. Unfortunately these lights have a common failure issue commonly referred to as a "burnt reflector" on the internet and on BMW forums. This is a non-consumer replaceable part. When this part fails it causes the vehicle to not have effective headlights. I personally have had times where my field of vision could not see items on the road due to the dim lights. The only remedy appears to be to replace the entire headlight assembly to the tune of hundreds of dollars (well over a thousand if you do both sides). In my opinion BMW should correct this issue for the consumer. Headlights are an important safety item. To have a part fail that is not consumer replaceable is unacceptable. Many people have this issue but have no way to remedy it. Just google it or check You will see that there are plenty of people that realize this is an issue.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #25

Dec 012009


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. The vehicle was included in the recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights). The manufacturer was contacted and stated that the wiring connector would have to be replaced prior to performing the recall repairs. The wiring connector would not be covered under the recall repairs. The contact stated that the consequences of the recall had damaged the wiring connector and he felt it should be covered under the recall. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Brentwood, CA, USA

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