really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,761 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 325 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 BMW 325 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #50

Jul 152015


  • 176,000 miles


Central locking system near total failure with possibility of becoming trapped in vehicle. Also, on a minor note, windshield washer doesn't work. The lock, window, wiper, and maybe other relays are located on a circuit board making it impossible to be swapped out by the average person. This means a high repair cost which means that as these vehicles come onto the used market and being the amazing value that they are, current owners may be unable or unwilling to have this fixed immediately and simply not use the locks or whatever else has a relay failure. Due to the security features and such associated with this car, it becomes easy for the locks to be engaged and impossible to unlock as the problem in the relays gets worse. The relays need to be relocated to sockets that allow them to be individually replaced like fuses the way most cars have them so that the problem doesn't have a chance to get worse and render car nearly unusable or trap somebody inside before a repair is possible. I can't tell you when the problem first happened because I bought the car used and the locks were imperfect at that time, it is also known to be an intermittent problem in most vehicles' cases. In my time with the car it has gotten worse, but since I still have life left in my battery and recently purchased a working remote key, and am an able bodied young person, I was able to get creative using the windows and cargo door for entry and exit and plan on attempting a temporary fix, maybe just disabling lock system, until I can afford the repair which I've heard can cost half the book value of this vehicle!!! insanity!!! a typical relay replacement is as simple as buying a new one for what maybe $5 and putting it in? just add a relay panel on top of the fuse panel. I do love this car you've made, but relays fail, we should be able to replace them like fuses, just like other cars.

- Yuma, AZ, USA

problem #49

Mar 052014

325 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
Doors failed to unlock on a few different occasions.

- Sun City , AZ, USA

problem #48

Jan 162015


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 325xi. When the ignition was turned to the on position, the vehicle failed to start without warning. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 93,000.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #47

Jul 012014

325 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 325ci. The contact stated that the key fob and key failed to unlock the doors. The contact had to make several attempts to unlock the doors by using the key fob and key. The dealer diagnosed that the module five needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000. MA 09/22

- King George, CA, USA

problem #46

Oct 042011

325 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
My 2003 BMW 325it stalls unexpectedly while driving. The engine shuts down, I loose power steering, the check engine light goes on and have to pull off the road. I then put it in park and start the engine again. This started to happen in 2011 and now occurs with increasing frequency. It happened three times in 2014, including today October 11, 2014, while I was driving on a two lane road at about 40 mph. I am very worried about my personal safety and hope to have an early response from you about this critical matter. I have also written to BMW corporation. I am the original owner of the car, bought on October 22, 2002 from vob auto sales 1396 rockville pike, rockville, md 20852 usa.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #45

Aug 142014

325 6-cyl

  • 38,125 miles
Remote unlocking/locking will not function. Doors can not be opened or unlocked from inside vehicle with central lock switch or with door handle, trapping passengers inside. The drivers window must be rolled down and key used to unlock driver side door to exit vehicle. Climbing out of windows or climbing to drivers seat is the only way out of car, BMW states "not a safety issue".

- Troutdale, OR, USA

problem #44

Jul 182014

325 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 #43

May 102014

325 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 #42

Aug 272009

325 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
The car doors at times do not unlock. It is very intermittent. A key can be used to open the driver's door but a couple of times even the door key has not worked. The most serious issue is that I have been locked inside the car and unable to open any of the doors, including the driver's door, with the main lock control or even by trying to open the door with the inside door handle. I have had to have passengers crawl out of the window to exit the car a few times. There are times when the key works to get in but I cannot get the other doors open even by attempting to use the inside door handle. This is a scary situation to be in.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #41

Nov 052013


  • 140,000 miles
The display that shows the odometer, temperature, trip meter, etc. Stopped working completely. A pixel or two will show up, but no legible information.

- Oceano, CA, USA

problem #40

Jul 312013

325 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 #39

Jun 252013

325 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 #38

Feb 122013


  • 172,000 miles
The central locking system intermittently fails to operate; problem is influenced by temperature extremes (hot and cold); symptoms vary from requiring the driver to lock and unlock the vehicle several times before the doors will unlock to a complete failure of all doors to unlock. When the problem manifests itself, the central electric door lock button (mounted in the center console beside the hazard light switch) is inoperable. BMW crash safety features include mechanical disconnect of door latches when locked; when this particular problem manifests, sometimes the passenger side doors will remain mechanically disconnected, meaning that the doors cannot be opened at all. In a worst case scenario, if the driver's side of the vehicle unusable for escape due to damage or being blocked, the only way to escape from the vehicle is by smashing windows. Bmws are not equipped with a glass break device. The problem seems to be a body module called the GM5, which is mounted above/in front of the glove box; all lock power circuits run through this module; the problem seems to be a voltage drop in the module, resulting in insufficient voltage to the lock mechanisms, as you can hear the locks attempting to cycle when and can see the lock buttons moving when the key fob is used in an attempt to unlock the doors. A google search of the terms "BMW","doors won't unlock" gets at least 10 pages of results on the issue, including several that identify the GM5 module as the cause of the problem and ways to fix it. Repair requires a new GM5 module that needs to be programmed prior to install.

- Marlton, NJ, USA

problem #37

Feb 022013

325 6-cyl Diesel

  • 103,000 miles
My vehicle has the same incident about a dozen of times in the last 4-5 years. The vehicle suddenly had check engine light, ABS light, traction control light, and brake light on, engineer started to knocking, speed forced down to less than 30 mph within in seconds. It was quite scaring when the vehicle was on the highway with speed at ~50-70 mpg. My dealer has made several repairs, changing everything in this speed controlling system multiple times according to the book, including throttle body twice, electric harness three times, and control computer unit once, but the problem recurs. Occasionally, resetting the system and/or restarting the car, and sometimes reconnecting every parts of the system can avoid the problem for a while (from a days to 1-2 years). Although it is unpredictable in when, it would come back. The problem seems to come more often when the weather become more wet. This mimics the behavior of the poor electric connections controlling the tails and turning lights of the same model, which was recalled by BMW a couple of years ago. It seems that the same electric connectors are used in this speed controlling system. Obviously, this problem is more dangerous than the signaling light issue since it is more likely to lead to severe accidents/crashes in the highway; I might be dead or severely injured if I did not responded quickly enough when was in I-95 for example.

- Charlottesvillle, VA, USA

problem #36

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 #35

Jul 012011


  • 95,000 miles
This has been an ongoing issue regarding the door locks on my 2003 BMW 325 xi. The doors automatically lock when the vehicle is placed into gear. Which I assume is as designed. ? however the doors will not unlock once the vehicle is placed back in park (engine running or not) neither by manual manipulation of the lock buttons on the doors or by pressing the door unlock switch on the console. " furthermore, with the single exception of the driver"S door, all other door latches are rendered non-functioning (inside and outside of the vehicle) " no one but the drive can open a door to exit the vehicle all doors are rendered inop, you can"T open them from either this inside or the outside O no, the child locks are not engaged. As a member of the fire service and fire marshall for the city of carver, mn I see this as a huge life safety issue. If there were ever a fire, the occupants would not be able to self-extricate (open the door to escape smoke and fire). Furthermore, given the likelihood and great potential for rapid fire spread in car fires in general?. any passengers, children/infants strapped into in car seats in the back seats would most certainly perish. Based on a multitude of consumer complaints on various internet boards, I do not believe this to be an issue specific to my car, but much broader in scope. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Chaska, MN, USA

problem #34

Jun 122012


  • 122,426 miles
The warning light for my passenger side tail light has been going on and off for months as if there is a short in it. It stayed on permanently this month, showing a dimmer light than the working side tail light, so I had it checked when I had the oil changed at my BMW mechanic. He informed me there was a recall for tail light assemblies for my vehicle and told me to call the dealer to check the VIN number. I called the dealer last Friday, June 22, 2012 and was informed that my vehicle was part of the recall and that someone would call to make an appointment for the work. No one called, so I called again today and they said the VIN was not part of the open recall. The tail light is acting like the other tail lights that were recalled so I do not understand how it cannot be part of the recall.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #33

Jun 232012

325 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 #32

Apr 042011

325 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 #31

Mar 022010

325 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Multiple intermittent problems with door locks failing to open either by key fob, depressing button inside car, or by pulling inside door handle. To exit car, must lower windows and insert key into outside keyhole. This is a serious hazard! problem arises with no apparent cause, then will disappear a few days later with for no apparent reason. BMW replaced actuator (?) and the problem appears to have disappeared, but it cost me $1400. Other electrical problem is with air bag warning light coming on after car sits undriven for more than a couple of days. Was told that air bags will not work with light on. No reason found. Battery checks out fully charged.

- Greer, SC, USA

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