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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,262 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.

2004 BMW 330 lights problems

lights problem

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2004 BMW 330 Owner Comments (Page 4 of 6)

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problem #60

Apr 302010

330 6-cyl

  • miles


Xenon headlights are terrible. Very low visibility and impossible to see at night.

- Quincy, MA, USA

problem #59

Jan 012011

330 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Headlights of 2004 BMW 330I with xenons are made by manufacturing company "zkw" and bound to fail. Visibility and light output becomes extremely poor, that you must drive around with extra lights, or high beams on. When you open up the reflective case, you will see that both front headlights driver and passenger side have burnt bowls, which do not allow any light output at all. This is extremely dangerous, I have gotten into an accident due to not being able to see far distance at night. Please address and investigate this matter immediately.

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #58

Feb 272012

330 6-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
Purchased a used 2004 BMW 330I. The headlight output is very dim, and upon research into the matter, have learned that the supplied zkw headlight assemblies contain plastic reflector bowls that are prone to melting and/or burning. I inspected my headlight assemblies and found this to be the case. The reflector bowls in my headlights are burnt, and consequently my headlights are not nearly as bright and effective as they should be. This is a safety hazard - nighttime visibility is something that should be taken seriously by a manufacturer.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #57

Feb 012012


  • miles


Bi-xenon headlamp projector back-bowls are made out of plastic and have had their reflective coating burnt off of them from normal headlight usage. Due to the lack of reflectivity on the projector bowls my headlights have become significantly more dim over time as more of the reflective coating is burning off. It has become harder and more dangerous to drive at night due to the severe lack of light my headlights now produce.

- Marshfield, WI, USA

problem #56

May 272009

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Bought my vehicle brand new from BMW dealership & after about 5 years of having my car, I noticed that my xenon headlights were not shining as bright as they usually did. Over time I eventually had to use the high beams at night in order to see while driving. I had the passenger side headlight replaced after an accident in Nov 2010 & recently went to have the driver side headlight checked to see why it wasn't illuminating as it should be. It was found that the protective sheath covering the wires in the headlight had dry rotted/desintegrated & there was hardly any sheath covering the wires, due to the heat generated by the xenon light. In addition, it was found that the projector bulb reflector had melted & burned out, also due to the heat generated by the xenon light & is why the light no longer illuminates as it should. I contacted BMW due to my findings & because many other BMW owners with the same year and model vehicle have experienced similar issues & BMW has been unwilling to address the issue. There is clearly a defect in the light design given the number of owners who have had this same issue and the fact that zkw & BMW has since changed the design of the xenon headlight in newer models & the newer design doesn't have this issue. BMW need to be accountable for this design defect & replace the headlight with the newer design because replacing the headlight costs over $1200 dollars each light & being that the replacement lights have the same design defect you will find yourself having to replace the headlights every 4 to 5 years because it to will burn out and the projector bulb reflector is not sold separately & the entire lights has to be replaced. I can visibly see areas on the replaced headlight where the projector bulb reflector has already started to melt & burn & I have only had that light a little over a year.

- Snellville, GA, USA

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problem #55

Jan 162012

330 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The bi-xenon projector headlights on my car do not produce the focused light that they did when the car was purchased. Investigation has produced evidence that the plastic xenon reflector bowls have lost their reflective material and that the plastic reflector bowl is now deteriorated and brown. The pattern of where the reflective material has disappeared indicates that the vapor deposited reflective material has failed due to the heat generated by the headlight bulb. Other headlights in the BMW 3 series line have metal bowls and do not display the same problem. I've spoken to my BMW dealer and BMW of America and registered a complaint but received no assistance. If the projector bowls were available as replacement items I wouldn't be as un-happy unfortunately that's not the case and to rectify the problem it requires the customer to purchase headlight assemblies at around $1200 per side. As I am an engineer by profession I would consider this a design defect due to a poor choice of material capabilities and/or material compatibilities. I consider this to be a safety issue due to the fact that this occurs over time leaving the owner operator with slow deterioration of light quality. I would appreciate your assistance in holding BMW responsible for the safety of their customers and others on the our highways. I had notice the reduced light quality but was blaming it on the condition of my headlight lenses. But after having my headlight lenses reconditioned the lighting condition continued. Leaving me to investigate and find that this is a common issue with other BMW 3 series automobiles.

- South Lyon, MI, USA

problem #54

Nov 272011


  • 35,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the right turn signal would begin to illuminate. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they were unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and the contact was informed that the vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 11V438000 (exterior lighting:turn signal). The failure mileage was 35,000.

- Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #53

Feb 172012

330 6-cyl

  • miles
My 2004 BMW 330 equipped with bi-xenon headlights is experiencing greatly reduced light output. Upon research on BMW forums, the problem is due to plastic reflectors in the light housing manufactured by zkw. This is a safety issue as the light output decreases slowly over time as the heat from the xenon bulb burns the coating off the reflector and leaves a burnt amber color as the plastic degrades. BMW refuses to replace the defective part under goodwill or cpo warranty, and classifies it as a wear item, which is incorrect. Bulbs are wear items, not any non-moving part in the housing. This is a serious safety issue, especially for owners who are not aware due to the gradual degradation of lighting quality.

- Cedar Knolls, NJ, USA

problem #52

Dec 012008

330 6-cyl

  • 77,000 miles
Factory bi-xenon headlights gradually dimmed. By 77K miles the light output was too dim to safely drive at night. Compared to a new model at dealer with xenon lights and found very noticeable difference. Mechanic analysis found metallized plastic reflectors on xenon bulbs had burned and lost their reflectivity. Replacement reflectors are not sold as service parts by BMW, so remedy involves complete replacement of headlight assembly.

- Export, PA, USA

problem #51

Jan 062012

330 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
The zkw projector bowls are burned out on the headlight fixtures, reducing light output and visiblity. After some research, it is evident that this is not an isolated incident. BMW needs to address this safety issue.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #50

Feb 112012

330 6-cyl

  • miles


The xenon projector bowls are made of plastic, which eventually burns. This diminishes the light output so drastically that it is incredibly difficult to see at night. The "burning" of the plastic bowl also seems like it might cause the bowl itself to melt or catch fire.

- Schaumburg, IL, USA

problem #49

Jan 082012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. While depressing the brake pedal, the contact noticed the rear driver side brake light would only illuminate partially. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights) but was advised by the manufacturer that the convertible models were not included in the recall. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #48

Feb 012011

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Headlight light output has strongly diminished. In 2003-2004 BMW used zkw headlights in which the reflector bowl behind the light-bulb were prone to the melting due to heat causing poor light output. BMW must have recognized this as they changed headlight suppliers in later models.

- Sterling, VA, USA

problem #47

Sep 152010

330 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
I purchased my 2004 BMW 330I in Sept 2010, at least in part because it was advertised as having factory installed xenon lights and I have always wanted brighter headlights than other cars I have owned. Within 3 months I was so disgusted with the dimness of those xenon's that I purchased 2 new D2S bulbs and had them installed at the cost of about $400. (I was told that even xenon's "wear out" over time so I figured I would bite the bullet this one time) I found right away that these new bulbs were no better than I had before. As a matter of fact, the right side lights shined against a wall were actually dimmer than a D cell flashlight. I suffered though trying to drive with my passing lights on at night (you actually have to hold the high beam stick in to get these lights to stay on ) for a year before I decided to replace the whole headlight assembly but no-one sells a replacement for the xenon equipped cars. I then removed the assemblies myself and was shocked to see clear signs of burning or corrosion on the inside of the reflector bowls. No wonder the lights would not shine on the highway. It is so bad that every time I am passed on the highway at night I actually see my car's shadow directly in front of me from the headlights of the car 50-100 feet behind me. I now understand from further investigation this is an ongoing problem with zkw headlights on E46 BMW's. I do not have the technical expertise or extra cash to fix these defects. Can you help?? no accidents or injuries have occurred yet but I have seen many pedestrians or bikers as I pass them at night on the side of the road that I never saw until I was next to them.

- Mishawaka, IN, USA

problem #46

Jan 072012

330 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Headlights have gradually lowered light output to the point that the vehicle is unsafe to operate in dark conditions. This condition has apparently happened to many other vehicles of the same make and model, and may have something to do with 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.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #45

Nov 012011

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Reflective coating melted inside the headlights, rendering them useless. Extremely expensive to replace.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #44

Dec 142011


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked and he noticed that the low beam headlights were illuminated with an inadequate amount of brightness. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis and the technician stated that the plastic reflector bowls were poorly designed. The technician also stated that these bowls melted over an extended period of time due to heat exposure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 56,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Spring Hill, FL, USA

problem #43

Aug 012011


  • miles
My headlights are not very bright and it looks like the reflective coating inside the light has been cooked off. I had a 2001 and the lights were much better they were the same hid xenon type. Thank you

- Thomasville , NC, USA

problem #42

Dec 232008


  • 35,000 miles
Extremely low output. Very dim.

- Graham, AL, USA

problem #41

Aug 012008


  • miles
My 2004 BMW 330I, with zkw produced headlight components, suffers from what appears to be a known issue with the projector bulb reflectors burning after approximately 50,000 miles of driving time. This results in a diminished light output, and is a definite safety concern. Please address this issue as I believe BMW is aware of the issue, yet will do nothing to remedy the issue with it's owners.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

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