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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
76,267 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.

2008 BMW 535 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2008 BMW 535 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Nov 222013

535 6-cyl

  • 97,700 miles


Malfunction of left headlight. Dealer inspection revealed"headlight wires leading to bulb socket have corrosion on them and casing around the wires is coming off". there was a recent vehicle safety recall for this model car for similar issues with rear lamp bulb carrier: Recall campaign no. 13V-407 potentially serious safety issue with malfunction of headlights leading to dangerous driving conditions or crash can occur especially at night or in bad/inclement weather.

- Ocean Springs, MS, USA

problem #21

Nov 012013

535 6-cyl

  • 580,000 miles
While driving about 35 mph on a busy street at rush hour I prepared to make a right turn by indicating. The fast turn single flashing started and the computer system in my 2008 535I said rear turn single malfunction. I slowed to my the turn and the person behind me slammed on their brakes and swerved to avoid hitting me and almost crashed into the person next them. I didn't realize why this happened, so I pulled over to check my lighting system and realized that the right rear lights weren't functioning properly. I opened the rear brake compartment and smelled burning melted plastic. I disconnected the brake light connector and found that it was melted. I searched online and found that there is a NHTSA recall for this problem for my year car. When I went to beverly hills BMW I was turned away. They told me that there wasn't a recall that covered my car. They were very rude about the whole and basically told me that I'd have to deal with myself and cover the costs. After more research, I have found many complaints about this online: appears to have been going on for a long time. But, BMW has been avoiding the safety issue!!! please file a complaint and get this safety issue resolved before someone dies as a result.

- Redondo Beach , CA, USA

problem #20

Aug 282013

535 6-cyl

  • 85,500 miles
The rear right tail light stopped functioning correctly, and the brake light, the running light, the reverse light, and the blinker stopped working. This created many potential accidents as oncoming drivers could not properly see me reversing or turning right. There is an active recall for the issue and BMW is replacing the rear tail lights for VIN's that the government has identified as having the issue. My vehicle has the issue. BMW refused to replaced the tail light that has permanent loss of functionality. I was forced to pay out of pocket funds for the item that has a recall and BMW North America has refused to assist in this matter. I spoke to [xxx] at BMW North America, he is a customer relations supervisor, and his contact information is in the BMW case file with id last 7 digits of my VIN. He indicated that BMW will not do anything unless the government forces them to by providing the VIN number to them as an effected vehicle. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Sheridan, WY, USA

problem #19

Jun 082013

535 6-cyl Diesel

  • 102,000 miles


I just had to have my water pump and thermostat replaced on my 2008 535I. I was told that it happens so often, they keep the part on the shelf! are there really no recalls on this problem?? also, my right tail light shorted out. I asked the shop why...he said this also happens all the time. The wires fry! not cool.I really think someone needs to investigate this. When I was told they replace them all of the time, I was shocked. That cost me $1102.62 to fix. The guy who towed me said he makes several trips a week for people with the same problem.

- Mount Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #18

Jun 082013

535 6-cyl

  • 23,000 miles
Warning lights came on while driving the car. Windshield wipers started going on (without being turned on). Brake and tail lights failed intermittently. Gauges all went to zero intermittently while driving. Sunroof wouldn't close. Drove to dealer. Diagnosed as electrical system components submerged in rear of car due to blocked sunroof drain. The same issue was repaired a year prior. This time to liability assumed by manufacturer or dealer because of "outside force" (rain). $9,500 repair estimate. Appears to be a common problem/ flaw with the model. Dealer did not appear to do a check of the drainage system while car was in for routine service a month before the incident. No loss of steering or engine while driving.

- Montclair, NJ, USA

problem #17

Jun 092013


  • 50,700 miles
As I was driving home on the highway my engine overheated very quickly. It went into serious limp mode and slowed down to under 30mph in the middle lane of a wide freeway. I let it cool for over 20 minutes, and it overheated within 1 minute of turning it back on. I had to have it towed to my mechanic and he determined the water pump had failed. I started doing some research online and it turns out to be a very common issue. I read many many complaints of people having electrical water pump failures before 75,000 miles. Without a water pump you must have the car towed and its a very expensive fix. BMW/MINIhave had many cars with problematic water pumps in the past and they never do anything about it. This issue needs to result in a recall.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #16

May 012013


  • 55,000 miles


The rear rail light warning started flashing intermittently and then rear tail light permanently failed. Inspection of rear tail light showed melting of plastic around ground wire connection to lighting assembly and damage to both light assembly and the wiring. Quick internet search revealed that this was a very common problem in bmws due to inadequate capacity of ground wiring.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #15

Jan 282013


  • 43,000 miles
I have three faults, 1- trunk opens randomly, 2 - rdc unit in trunk flooded because trunk opened, 3 - battery discharges. I noticed a few times after returning to my car, the trunk opened on its own. I always lock my car and when I walk away, I make sure that the trunk is closed. When I return to my car, the trunk is randomly opened. One day, when it was raining, this occurred and drenched my entire trunk. I dried the trunk out and started driving then I noticed the TPMS started failing. After checking all the TPMS antennas on my car, I found out that there was a unit in the trunk. This unit was in the base of the trunk with no ventilation. My rdc unit was submerged in water along with my bluetooth system. The rdc unit failed and I notice the bluetooth system has been going in and out now. My battery also shows high discharge and I hear random beeping when I am driving. This is a huge design flaw on so many levels. I have paid money to fix the rdc unit, but it is hard to replicate the trunk randomly opening and the beeping sound happens randomly when I am driving.

- Flushing, NY, USA

problem #14

Mar 212013


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 BMW 535xi. The contact stated while driving various speeds, the brake pedal was engaged and the exterior brake warning indicator displayed on the instrument panel indicating the passenger's side brake light was inoperable. On a separate occasion both the left turn signal and passenger's side exterior brake light failed to operate when the brake pedal was engaged and a warning message displayed at the same time. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the electrical contact assembly was replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 56,000.

- Sudbury, MA, USA

problem #13

Jan 042013

535 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
The ground connection to the right rear light assembly failed. This resulted in the right rear lights and turn signal not operating. The connector to the wiring harness was melted and the tab on the lamp socket housing (where the connector plugs in) was damaged.

- Media, PA, USA

problem #12

Oct 012012

535 6-cyl

  • 51,400 miles


Right rear brake light failure indicator on dash board turned on. Inspecting the light bulbs, all seemed to be in working condition. Fuses were also good. Found the ground wire pin and socket on the bulb holder burned out pretty severely. Problem appears to be intermittent as the indicator would turn on and off before eventually staying on permanently. Also, indicator would show turn signal failure at first, then brake light, then right back up light, then all three. Eventually it settled in on brake light only. Potential for accidents related to turn signals not working and warning other drivers of braking and/or turning. Also potential for an electrical fire beginning in the rear of the vehicle close to where the fuel filler cap is located. Checking online forums for a repair, it appears to be a common problem, and the subject of an earlier recall on other BMW models.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #11

Apr 262011

535 6-cyl

  • 52,187 miles
While driving, the entire electrical panel [speedometer, radio, display screen, etc.] begin to click on/off each time reappearing with appeared to be everything but english. Soon to follow, I received a warning light indicating "engine overheated", "engine power was being reduced", and "to stop the vehicle" when possible. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of traffic and could not immediately pull off to the shoulder. The vehicle didn't travel very far before complete engine power was lost due to the possibility of "fire risk" as indicated on the panel.

- Shreveport, LA, USA

problem #10

Jun 012012


  • 48,600 miles
The grounding wire in the connector to the tail light bulb holder melted and melted parts of the connector. This resulted in no signal, brake and running rear lights. A recall has been called for BMW E46 3 series for this exact problem. The recall should be expanded to cover the 5 series as well.

- Torrance, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 112012

535 6-cyl

  • miles
Consumer writes in regards unresolved fire safety issues with a 2008 BMW 535xi the consumer stated on Feb 14, 2012, the battery was replaced. However, six days later, a spark of fire and ball of smoke occurred as the consumer was driving. The dealer informed the consumer the alternator was faulty and needed to be replaced. An inspection also revealed an oil leak. The consumer stated the vehicle burst into flames and exploded, totaling the vehicle. The entire front hood and engine compartment were melted and destroyed, as well as the front driver and passenger areas were affected by the fire. The consumer and his passenger suffered minor injuries. The consumer stated he had taken the vehicle to the dealer in December 2013, and January 2014 after complaining about electrical problems. He complained of low coolant, the trunk randomly opening, the key not starting the vehicle right away, and the clock suddenly showing a the wrong time. Both times, the dealer stated there was nothing wrong. Updated 03/10/14

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Mar 152012

535 6-cyl

  • miles
The wire harness connector to the right rear lights burned and melted out for no reason. The fuse did not protect the wires connector from burning. All the rear rights are non operational.

- Sachse, TX, USA

problem #7

Apr 112011

535 6-cyl

  • 72,500 miles
Ground wire for passenger side tail light burned up. Ground wire, both sides of electrical connector, and tail light bulb holder all burned up. Passenger side brake light, tail light, turn signal and back up light do not function at all. Improperly rated fuse did not blow before circuit burned up and melted. This circuit is not designed correctly. This is a safety hazard to myself and anyone driving behind me. Car model is a 2008 528xi.

- Lawton, MI, USA

problem #6

May 162011


  • 28,000 miles
Vehicle is 2008 528I sedan. The tire monitor pressure indicator was displayed. I took the car to a BMW dealership to check the tire pressure. They said the tire pressure was ok on all 4 tires. However, it continued to display the tmp indicator. Then for the next couple of days, when the vehicle was started, various alert indicators would display briefly and the date and time were not set. I took the car back to the dealership and they determined fluid (referred to by BMW as żan outside influenceż) leaked from inside the trunk of vehicle into the rdc (communication) module, which is located under the trunk. The service advisor stated the submerged fluid shorted out the module and melted the harness. The rdc module and the harness were replaced. The trunk was not wet so I did not realize anything had leaked nor was I aware there were critical electrical components located directly under the trunk, which were not properly protected. To place the rdc module in an area where liquids can penetrate (I.e. open drunk while raining, groceries spillingż), is extremely poor vehicle design. Since the problem was a result of żan outside influenceż it was not covered under warranty and it cost almost $1000 to fix.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #5

Oct 222010

535 6-cyl

  • 27,500 miles
Our 2008 BMW 528I has an electrical problem in which the vehicle does not have the capability of charging the battery if the vehicle is driven short distances or multiple stops. This causes the battery to run down and the vehicle to become inoperative. The vehicle will stop and not start. After four (4) trips to the dealer (trucked twice) the dealer has determined that it is an operator problem and the vehicle should be plugged into and electrical battery charger when not in use. Additionally, they indicated the vehicle should be taken daily for drives of more than 20 miles to hopefully charge the battery. The issue has us in fear of the vehicle stalling in traffic and creating a serious safety issue.

- Panama City, FL, USA

problem #4

Dec 232010


  • 37,000 miles
Vehicle is 2008 BMW 535xi wagon. Blocked sunroof drains meant that water drained into the vehicle, gathering in the trunk where the electronics sit. Car had multiple engine failures and warnings of transmission failure, electrical failure, sunroof error and tpm failure. Cause per BMW was blockage of rear sunroof drain. This is a common fault caused by poor design of the sunroof drains (too narrow and prone to blocking). A recall on the sedan 5 series moves the electronics to a higher position in the vehicle to prevent the electronics damage but BMW state there is no similar move possible for the wagon., also it impossible to diagnose the problem before it occurs and BMW has no suggested service steps T P[revent occurrence. When this happens its very dangerous and V expensive to remediate. BMW occasionally covers a goodwill repair but won't cover under warranty. Advice from BMW is not park the vehicle under trees! dealer indicates when this re-occurs BMW will not cover the cost again.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 042010


  • 28,300 miles
Have had 3 separate instances in the past 9 months where my car stalled or sputtered with loss of power, and once I had no steering or braking ability. Dangerous situation in freeway traffic.

- Houston, TX, USA

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