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fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
16,925 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.

2002 BMW M3 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 BMW M3 Owner Comments

problem #5

Jun 242010


  • 64,000 miles


I own a 2002 BMW M3. There are six camshaft bolts behind a plate cover. BMW speced bolts that were too soft until 2004 when they changed bolt spec to a hardened steel with loctite. Prior to this the bolts had no loctite. The issue is starting to surface all over the web. The failure is that the bolts do not stay screwed in. They back out and stop against the plate cover. Eventually they shear off and if this happens it causes catastrophic failure to your engine. In my case I was going 15mph so the damage was only $10,000. The car hammered to a stop. BMW is refusing to acknowledge the issue suggesting out of warranty. My concern is that I have 60K on the car when the issue occurred first. A P0011 camshaft timing fault comes up. A BMW service center cleared the fault and replaced some coils and sparkplugs ($663) and sent me on my way. Three days later the bolts sheared. The dealership said they "had never seen this before". they also said BMW had issued no bulletins to address the bolts. Every independent BMW facility I interviewed in portland was well aware of the issue and already doing engine rebuilds for their customers. I think this is gross negligence on BMW's part for not acknowledging the issue and dealing with it. I also think the dealer is guilty of clearing the fault without checking further. The bid on my work is $10,000 (two valve heads and a vanos system plus 50 hours of labor). This is an estimate until they pull the engine apart more. Online you can see on you tube my issue by watching this video. On all the forums there are threads to see the issue. You can see this by a google search of "BMW camshaft bolt shearing" bottom line is if the bolts are not replaced eventually they will shear off and cause catastrophic engine damage. The faster the speed of the car the worse the damage. The problem is appearing it seems after 30K and for many including me between 60-90K.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #4

Aug 042003

M3 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Multiple problems with the vehicel. The engine was replaced at 16000, the transmission (smg) was re[;aced at 20000, now the engine rev high at idel and send stron vibration to the cabin and steering column. BMW of houston North, a local dealer in houston, tx, were less than helpful in trying to solve the current problem. It appears that they want to keep the problems with M3 quiet.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #3

May 272003


  • miles
Without any indication vehicle shut down. Engine was replaced by the dealer on 9/9/2002. On 5/27/2003 vehicle would not start. Vehicle was taken to the dealer for repair.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 172002

M3 6-cyl Diesel

  • 5,623 miles
BMW has had a rash of engine failures on their new E46 M3's. these failures usually (im my case and many others) has resulted in the engine actually blowing up. This is probably one of the most dangerous failures that could happen. Oil dumps all over the road, things lock up and you could easily lose control. Fortunately for me, I was able to get off the road and no one else was involved. BMW has been replacing these motors under warranty, but will not disclose the reason for the failures or what has been fixed to insure it does not happen again. I have sent request to BMW asking for and official response to my particular failure and what has been done to fix it on the replacement motor. I have not received any response from BMW as of today. I have received E-mails from other concerned M3 owners stating that replacement motors have been know to fail also. I cannot afford to have another engine blow. I might not be so lucky the next time. What worries me most is that BMW seems to be ignoring the problem. Eventually someone is going to get hurt or killed. **dimsii IVOQ entry posted after 12/12/02 cut-over to artemis*768014

- Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #1

Jan 312002


  • miles
Engine destroyed by rod bearing failure.

- Saugerties, NY, USA

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