really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
101,454 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 318 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 BMW 318 Owner Comments

problem #10

Jul 182014

318 6-cyl

  • 153,231 miles


Passenger doors would not unlock. All passengers could not get out of the car. Pulling on the door handles did not open or unlock the doors. Interior unlock buttons did not work. Unlock button on the key fob did not work. This is very common issue and can be very dangerous. 4 passengers had to crawl out the driver door.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #9

May 102014

318 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Traveling South on 75, driver door bag deployed for no reason. Applied brakes and ran off side off road to keep from having a car rear end me and then right tire blew out due to drop off. Car shut down by itself. Air bags did not completely deploy. Over head strap hit head and neck area causing soreness and headache. Door air bag caused fragments to hit hand and tore off skin.I thought car was on fire due to smoke smell of wires burning, removed strap off neck and got out of car. If traffic had been heavy there would have been a major wreck. If I had been on 2 lane highway I would have hit head on another vehicle. Monday called BMW and they said someone would call me back. I called every day for a week and was told to leave msg with case mgr which I did. 10 days later case mgr called and said bags are not suppose to fully deflate and she would have car towed to nearest dealer for engineer to look at and once they have car it could be another 2-3 weeks before he looks at car and not to expect any repairs. She also said she does not find any recalls for this car. I told her I found info on internet.now I am out of car and waiting on BMW to look into. BMW case #[xxx]. NHTSA campaign number 13V172000. + usa today May 7,2013. + suit claims air bags defective (www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/BMW.html). + los angles times-BMW recall air bags that could spray shrapnel Dec 16,2013. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Ky, KY, USA

problem #8

Jul 312013

318 6-cyl

  • miles
The general module 5 (GM5) is electronic hardware that amongst other functions primarily controls the locking and unlocking of the BMW E46's. this module has decided to stop working in my vehicle making it impossible to unlock the vehicle from any of the possible options (key fob button, central locking button, or door double locking handle). This is an extreme safety hazard because in the case of an accident the passengers will not be able to quickly escape the vehicle due to inability of the doors to unlock. After thorough research I have found that this is a very widespread problem with this make and model vehicle, yet nothing has been done by the manufacturer to address this extremely hazardous flaw. There is no way to manually override the GM5 to unlock the doors so without it passengers are essentially trapped in the vehicle. The module also controls the windshield wipers, power windows, and trunk release. Having these features inoperable on top of the inability to unlock for any given amount of time is unacceptable and should be addressed by the manufacturer as a recall and replacement.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #7

Jun 252013

318 6-cyl

  • 148,000 miles


Driver's side door will not open, either with the inside door latch or the outside latch. The lock plunger goes up and down normally with either the key, the key remote, or the inside door lock/unlock button, but in no case can either door latch open the driver's side door. All other doors operate normally. This makes entering or exiting the car difficult, necessitating either climbing in/out through the window or by climbing across the console from the passenger seat. If there were an emergency, it would be impossible to exit the vehicle quickly. No event appeared to cause this to happen. I entered the vehicle, drove it, exited the vehicle a few times during the morning before driving, parking, stopping the vehicle, and then having the door stick shut.

- Greer, SC, USA

problem #6

Jan 262013


  • 63,000 miles
I was locked in my car for 1 hour. My key fob would not unlock my doors, so I manually opened the door, started the car, closed the door, and tried to warm up the car (it is winter in Chicago and my windows were also frozen shut). I then pressed the door lock button twice in an attempt to unlock the doors and at that point I learned I was locked in my car. I tried driving the car a block to see if the locks would reset and nothing worked (neither the door levers, key fob or lock button). I called a dealer and they suggested I drive it to the service center. When I arrived at the service center an hour later, my window was no longer frozen so I handed the key to the agent and although the manual door handles and unlock button would not work, the key fob was able to unlock the doors. The agent agreed that there was a problem that needed to be inspected. I drove the car home. Two days later I tried to start the car and the battery was dead. We jumped it and I drove the car to a dealer. The dealer replaced and programmed the general module behind the glove box. They said that it had caused the problem with the doors and drained the battery. The BMW representatives do not seem surprised by the problem, but I was quite frightened by the fact that I had to drive my car while locked inside the vehicle.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #5

Jun 232012

318 6-cyl

  • 110,304 miles
The projector bowls on the zkw headlights were burnt out due to a design flaw. I see lot of complaints online with the same issue. Driving in night is really difficult and dangerous.

- Smyrna, GA, USA

problem #4

Apr 042011

318 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


Doors fail to unlock, either using the keyfob, the inside button or manually by pulling the door handle. This is a very dangerous situation as occupants are trapped inside. No method of opening the door work. This appears to be intermittent and eventually the doors unlock mechanism starts working again. The GM5 module seems at fault. This could be very dangerous in an emergency situation.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #3

Dec 252009


  • 90,000 miles
Passenger side door and both rear doors failed to open. All three doors remained locked and could not be open from inside by using the mechanical handles. Neither the remote key nor the regular key was able to unlock the doors.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #2

Aug 032010

318 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
In 2010 the sunroof went bad I talked to a BMW dealer and they told me they have problems with them, in August of 2011 I noticed that my tail lights and blinkers were not working proper, nor was my horn, and the drivers window regulators are binding up, also a brake hose from my brake booster to the engine is collapsed in two spots. ??

- Colton , OR, USA

problem #1

Dec 072010


  • 115,000 miles
Central locking wont work, the key does not open the doors light comes on to say door open but they don't and also driver door opens with key the internal button also does not open the doors, intermittent fault.

- Birmingham, 00, USA

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