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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 1 of 6)

problem #120

Jul 192016


  • miles


The left tail light is intermittently off. Each time I step on the brakes, the tail light randomly turns on or off. My right headlight is off, too. I switched the bulbs from left to right and they still work. I can't check my fuses because my glovebox doesn't open anymore.

- St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #119

Feb 162016


  • 92,000 miles
Vehicle has very poor headlight visibility at night due to burnt out plastic reflector bowls from BMW's sub-supplier zkw. Replacement bowls are not available for purchase from BMW. Only fix from them is replacing the entire headlight assembly which costs thousands of dollars.

- Clifford, IN, USA

problem #118

Aug 252011


  • miles
Takata recall. The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330xi. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign numbers: 11V438000 (exterior lighting), 15V318000 (air bags) and 14V428000 (air bags) however, the parts to do the repairs were unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repairs. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. VIN tool confirms parts not available.

- Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, USA

problem #117

Nov 052015


  • 126,000 miles


Headlights no longer illuminate due to deteriorating headlight material considered a defect due to inferior plastic used when originally manufactured. Low illumination level creates a serious safety hazard to driver and public causing severe injuries and damage. The high cost of replacing these headlight assemblies cannot be burdened by the vehicle owners. Based on my research this vehicle condition has been reported asking the governing entities to take action by recalling the vehicle and having the manufacturer correct the defect.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #116

Oct 182015


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. The contact stated that the passenger side tail light failed to illuminate. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting). The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 73,000.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

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problem #115

Sep 102013


  • 100,000 miles
Over the last couple of years I have noticed that the headlights ability to provide good visibility at night has reduced dramatically, especially when raining or wet roads. I made sure the lenses were clear and new bulbs did not help. After doing some research on the internet I found thru several forums that this is a common issue with bmws' equipped with the zkw brand of bi-xenon headlights. The reason is the projector bowels are made of plastic and over time burn due to the excessive heat generated by the xenon much so that the reflector bowls turn black instead of silver and therefore cannot reflect the light produced by the bulb. The fog lights provide more light or if there is someone following me the car behind me provides far more light than my own car. This is a serious safety issue and should be subject to recall. The only way to remedy that I have found so far is to replace the projector bowls withe after market ones which requires some modifications at a cost of about $800. Us.

- Tecumseh, MI, USA

problem #114

Sep 012014


  • 150,000 miles


The headlights are useless at night. The bulbs all function perfectly, but the reflector housings are "worn" according to my mechanic. I understand the need to replace bulbs over the lifetime of a vehicle, but $3,000 for a whole new headlight assembly is outrageous! this is a design defect that the NHTSA refuses to investigate. There are thousands of complaints regarding this design defect all over the internet. This is a serious safety issue!

- Orefield, PA, USA

problem #113

Jul 312015


  • 135,000 miles
Light output from my car is extremely poor causing a safety concern. Upon investigating why the light output is so poor, I have determined that like many others the lights fitted into this 2004 BMW 330I are manufactured for BMW by a company called zkw who used plastic for the reflector lenses for the hid assemblies. This plastic degrades and becomes burnt which significantly diminishes the light output, even from new oem bulbs that were installed in the car. A light meter indicates that these lights now have less than 50% of the light output of the same car using lights manufactured by al that BMW also used on these vehicles. Longevity of light output availability through lighting design and manufacture should not be considered a wear item by the vehicle maker. This is for the safety of both the vehicle owner and others on the road who may be subjected to a crash caused by poor visibility.

- Holly Springs, NC, USA

problem #112

Apr 062009

330 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Head lights are very dim. Reflectors are burned. Headlights do not project on the road. Cannot see at night.

- Spring Green, WI, USA

problem #111

Mar 242015


  • 140,000 miles
The headlight reflectors on this car (and other of this year model) are manufactured by zkw and they have failed causing very low, unsafe levels of light output. The reflectors are burnt and cracked. The only way to get any reasonable or safe light output for night driving is to use the fog lights and this is an unsafe condition and I am surprised there hasn't been a recall. This is a well known problem. Unsafe lighting and proceed while unknowingly endangering themselves and others. Do not pass state inspection light out put in some states, this problem should be address, if you look on the inter net people are modifying them to give more light witch makes it more unsafe.

- Dillsburg, PA, USA

problem #110

Jul 032013

330 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


Zkw hid xenon low beam reflectors burnt or corroded causing a significant decrease in light output that BMW wants ~$3000 to fix. Lights were a premium option and cannot be corrected by xenon bulb replacement. The output has dimmed as to be unsafe.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #109

Jan 132013


  • miles
The very first time I tried to drive the car at nighttime to go back home, my wife and kids were on board, and we were more than 200 miles from home. After I turned on the low-beam head lamps and started rolling, I could barely see the road because the headlamps were not properly illuminating. I flipped the switch several times to no avail. putting lives and properties at risk, I continued driving until we got home, all the while driving with the high-beam lamps on and apparently getting the others drivers on the road fuming. I took the car to both a lamp-adjusting station and a BMW dealer where I was told the lamps could neither be adjusted nor their bulbs merely replaced because the problem was the reflector bowls were defective and had lost their ability to project light properly. I was also told that both that the reflector bowls could not be replaced individually, and that both (left and right sides) assemblies must be replaced at a total cost of more than $2000. Many posters in the BMW forums have voiced out exactly the same problems, and I wish that all would file a complaint to NHTSA. I never drove this car again at night until I had " in August 2014 " purchased and finally received and installed the head lamps assemblies in October 2014. I have in my possession the headlamp adjusting station's invoice and recommendation plus the receipt and invoice for the new headlamp assemblies that had to be specially ordered from germany. On November 17, 2014, by certified mail, I sent BMW of North America my request for reimbursement, but I have yet to receive a response. Due to this defect which affects safety, I strongly and respectfully suggest that a recall be issued on this BMW model, or some sort of directive be issued for BMW to reimburse those owners 'such as I who had already replaced their lamp assemblies at their own expense.

- Midway City, CA, USA

problem #108

Dec 142014

330 6-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
The low beams on my 2004 BMW 330I are very dim. They barely light up the road at night, if at all. My only option is to turn on my high beams, but then I risk blinding incoming traffic. I consider this a significant safety risk. Through online research I have discovered that the problem is that the bowls BMW used to reflect the light from the bulbs are made of plastic and get burnt from the heat of the bulb. Due to this fact, I believe BMW should have a recall for the headlights of E46 cars. I do not think I should have to pay to fix something that is a factory defect.

- Wahiawa, HI, USA

problem #107

May 012014


  • miles
I purchased the car, I noticed the headlights where dim. I went out and got new bulbs for my car. I didn't help at all! I can barely see at night and I have to use to fog lights just to be able to drive at night. It is also unlawful to drive with my fog lights on. After much research, it seems that the root case of my headlight being as dim as they are, do to the reflective bowl being burnt out in the headlight it unit. The cost to replace the lights is insane $1000 for a set, just to be able to see at night. It is unsafe to drive at night. It is so bad, that I often don't drive at night because I don't want to put my safe in a bad situation.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #106

Dec 232014

330 6-cyl

  • 185,560 miles
Purchased car used. Upon driving it at night for the first time the headlights were noticed to be very dim. Bulbs were checked to be the correct wattage and color temperature. Plastic reflector dish was seen to be burned out (not reflecting light from the portion above the bulb.

- Santa Cruz, CA, USA

problem #105

Feb 012013


  • 190,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. While driving at an unknown speed, both projector headlights failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the projector headlight lenses needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 190,000.

- Burlington, NC, USA

problem #104

Jul 152014


  • miles
Bi-xenon projector headlights have very poor illumination output and are unsafe. Apparently, the unit uses a plastic reflective bowl that burns over time due to the heat of the light bulb therefore losing its reflectibility. The standard halogen fog lamps in the lower bumper must be used as headlights because of the almost non existent output of the actual headlights. The only thing the bi-xenons are good for at this point is showing that a light is indeed on so that the police wont issue a citation. But as far as illuminating the road, they do not.

- Belmont,Ca, CA, USA

problem #103

Apr 012014

330 6-cyl

  • 65,123 miles
The headlight reflectors on this car (and other of this year model) are manufactured by zkw and they have failed causing very low, unsafe levels of light output. The reflectors are burnt and cracked. The only way to get any reasonable or safe light output for night driving is to use the fog lights and/or to hold on the pass to flash lights. This is an unsafe condition and I am surprised there hasn't been a recall. This is a well known problem among some but most users will never realize what it casing poor, unsafe lighting and proceed while unknowingly endangering themselves and others.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #102

Mar 012013

330 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
My zkw headlights do not reflect light anymore. BMW offer no replacement reflector bowls for the headlight, so no fix is available except replacing the headlight assembly with the same faulty assembly from the same manufacturer. Headlights produce too much heat and melt the reflectors deeming them useless and an extreme danger. Recall needed for extreme safety reasons. I can't drive my car at night anymore.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #101

Oct 212014


  • 156,000 miles
Wire loosing coating on inside of adaptive headlights, causing shorts or broken wires where the headlights and or turn signals will fail to work. Wire is very brittle as this is also roughly 20 gauge wire. This can be an extreme hazard especially at night. This seems to be affecting BMW's 3/5/6/ series from at least 2004 to 2008 from my independent research. Many pictures and complaints on various BMW forums to document this problem. My problem occurred when I lost one headlight on my way home in the dark and an indicator came on to identify a fault in the headlight. Originally I though it was a bulb, changed bulb and it still did not work. Further investigation led to a broken wire inside of the headlight assembly. I fixed the broken wire and then noticed two more wires where the coating on the wire seem to have flaked off causing bare wire. I also fixed those wires and all was well. A day or two later, the indicator came on again pointing to the same headlight. This time the turn signal was out. I opened the access panel to check the wiring and now a forth wire has been severed, however I can not fix it as it is down pretty far inside the headlight and to repair would require removing the headlight and taking it apart. Apparently BMW used biodegradable wire for the headlights?? source of the headlight is believed to be hella. Supposedly BMW knows about the issue but unwilling to fix unless you purchase a $800-1500 new headlight. This is crazy for a car that is 10 years old and well maintained. This is a safety hazard as you will can loose a headlight in the dark and maybe both headlights going out, plus the fact of bare wires that can short and cause a fire.

- Glendale, AZ, USA

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