hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,664 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 330 lights problems

lights problem

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2002 BMW 330 Owner Comments

problem #16

Nov 182014


  • 40,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 BMW 330I. When the vehicle was started, the passenger side brake light seized without warning. The failure recurred randomly. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the rear light panel and plug failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 40,000.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #15

Jun 152014


  • 171,722 miles
The contact owns a 2002 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the brake lights on the vehicle failed to operate as intended. The contact stated that brake lights remained illuminated without the brake pedal being depressed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 171,722.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #14

Dec 022012


  • 75,000 miles
Under recall 11V438000, BMW found the defective rear lights. Their remedy was to replace a single ground wire with a larger gauge wire. This is a preventative measure and not a corrective measure. The ultimate causation of the light issue is the trunk door pinching the harness leading to the light, which cause the wires inside the harness to break. This was verified by the mechanic whom said was not covered by this campaign. He said they could not do anything about it. I had to ultimately pay out of pocket and fix this myself.

- South San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #13

Jan 262012


  • 65,000 miles


After the recall, NHTSA action number: EA09019, I brought in my car and they added a ground wire that was to fix the issue with an intermittent lights-out warning at the dashboard. After several months, the issue was still there. I brought the vehicle back to BMW and they said that they already added the ground cable and that's all they could do. The same issue still exists. Upon reading further regarding this issue, it appears the wiring harnesses had "melted" due to excessive heat created by a faulty ground cable. The damage has already been made and BMW refused to fix the issues caused by this faulty design. They quoted me over $800 to replace the entire harness and charged me 1 hour of labor @$195/hr to find that out. The faulty ground cable created the excessive heat creating issues with the wiring harness to the rear of the car lights. BMW should pay not just to prevent issues but to pay for issues already created by this faulty design.

- South San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #12

Oct 302012


  • miles
The report is in response to not being included in a recall of the rear taillight assembly. Some vehicles seem to be excluded for no reason from the recall and replacement of faulty wiring. NHTSA campaign id # 11V438000.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

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problem #11

Jul 202012

330 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
This car is 2002 BMW 330ci. I noticed that the warning light illuminated, which indicated that a tail light or brake light was not working. I replaced the bulbs, however, the warning light remained illuminated. I also noticed that the wiring harness plug had some damage in the middle and lighting assembly on the right had a connector in the middle gone. My mechanic stated that there was a recall on this problem. I contacted the recall center who stated my car was not covered. I noticed a lot of the BMW models were covered including 330I and the 330xi. I also went to a BMW dealer who again said my car was not covered. I don't want to be pulled over for a problem that should be covered by BMW. Updated 8/7/12

- Williamstown, NJ, USA

problem #10

Aug 022011

330 6-cyl

  • 77,902 miles


I found that my reverse light was out late in July and took it to the nearest BMW dealership for repair. I've since found out that this is a common defect in the E46 model and I am wondering if there is some kind of recall or compensation for the inadequacy of the rear lights in this model.

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

problem #9

Dec 052007

330 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Left taillight assembly shorted out, and the dash indicator light came on. I fixed it with electrician's tape. Today, went in to have the fix prescribed by recall campaign 11V-438000, which exactly addressed my issue. BMW's recall letter dated December, 2011 includes "the lamps will also be checked for proper functionality. If they are not operating properly, then they will be repaired which could include replacement of the lamp's 8-pin connector housing, if necessary". thus, BMW is cognizant of the inescapable nexus between a short circuit of the connector and damage to the housing. Well, according to the dealer, only the fixing of the ground connection is covered by the recall and BMW would not pay for replacing the ruined housing (and with the warranty "fix", my lights would no longer work because my repair had been eliminated, presumably by the installation of a new connector which would no longer interface with the damaged housing). While at the dealer, called BMW customer service, and ultimately spoke to "bobby". she verified with the service manager that he had gone up the chain of command as appropriate, gotten the denial, and told me that I was out of recourse with respect to BMW: BMW would not be liable. Having given them their shot to do the right thing, am now taking the next step (notifying you). Since I couldn't drive around w/O proper functioning rear signal lights, I paid for the new housing. The dealer ate some of the cost so only charged me $39.32, for $41.68 with tax. Upon getting home, googled the part # and got a price of ~$28. So, this is not huge dollars (and for me its just a matter of principle) but BMW should be told to behave logically and fairly, adhere to their own words in their letter, and replace any housings damaged by the issue causing the recall.

- Lutherville, MD, USA

problem #8

Jan 132010

330 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Tail light, brake light and turn signal on passenger side of the vehicle has repeatedly failed. Bulbs and wires have been changed repeatedly, however these changes have not solved the issue. Far too many experiences where collisions have almost occurred due to the failed rear exterior lamps.

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #7

Feb 112011

330 6-cyl

  • 84,000 miles
Taillight electrical failure. Brake and taillight failed as a result of malfunctioning ground.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #6

Oct 262007


  • 30,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 BMW 330I. He experienced a recurring failure in which the exterior lights failed. The rear passenger side exterior lights intermittently failed to function until he removed the rear lighting cover in order to shift the wires. He also intermittently received a message indicating that the turn signal bulbs were blown out. When he examined the bulbs he would noticed that they were functioning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer on numerous occasions but the vehicle was never repaired. The failure mileage was 30,000. The current mileage was 92,000.

- Jamaica, NY, USA

problem #5

Jan 012010


  • 60,000 miles
8-pin connector at rear tail lights in 2002 BMW 330xi has partially melted, contacts appear corroded. "light out" indicator light on the dash turns on and off intermittently.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #4

Jun 222009

(reported on)


  • miles
Consumer is inquiring on the status of the mark peters defect petition DP09002. The consumer stated he experienced multiple rear lamp exterior lighting failures. He also stated that a rear lamp wiring harness and connector may overheat leading to rear lamp bulb failures.

- Unknown, DC, USA

problem #3

Mar 232009

(reported on)

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Safety related defect with BMW E46 models; petition for formal investigation pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30162 and 49 cfr part 552 the consumer stated the E46 models as well as his 2002 330I had problems with taillights, brake lights and/or turn signal lights.

- Bedford, TX, USA

problem #2

Jun 102008

330 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
For several years people such as myself with the BMW E46 ('99-'05 3 series) have complained of intermittently defective tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals. Result: No action taken. The following web sites document a mere fraction of the problem, which is likely to affect warm states more than cooler areas. In my case, in hot weather the entire taillight cluster will fail to illuminate--no turn signal, brake light or tail lights on one or both sides of the car. The reason: BMW used a grounding wire which was far too small to carry the current, thus resulting in melted wiring harness connectors on both tail lamp clusters. For details, please see the many photographs and text at these web sites: www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php"T=244598&highlight=taillight+wiring and forum.E46fanatics.com/showthread.php?T=533309&highlight=melted+tail+light and forum.E46fanatics.com/showthread.php"S=0fedaef77A3622F393734ba4B57add7C&T=512469&page=2 BMW has a service bulletin that includes a wiring modification: www.bmwtis.com/tsb/bulletins/bulletin_graphic_temp/B630306G.htm despite at least 4 visits to various BMW dealers while under my car's four year warranty, their solutions to this problem never lasted long. Furthermore, no BMW dealer ever installed this special wiring kit from BMW. Now that I'm out of warranty a local BMW dealer is more than willing to charge me $600 to install this special wiring kit so that rear lights will consistently work. FMVSS 108 is pretty clear: Federal law requires cars to have working lights. When there are systemic failures of a safety system such as brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, etc., and the manufacturer fails to step up and fix the problem with a voluntary recall, it then becomes time for the department of transportation to get involved. For details on FMVSS 108, please refer to the various links here: fmvss108.tripod.com/

- Bedford, TX, USA

problem #1

Jul 262007

330 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles
Failure of the turn signals, brake lights and rear parking lamps of the 1999-2005 BMW 3 series ("E46"). also noted are forward turn signal lighting failures. The problem may involve two unrelated component failures: Chronically overheating/partially melted 7-pin wiring connectors (at the rear lamp cluster) and corroded bulb sockets (at the front turn signals). (the first problem may be more common in warm weather states.) by way of background, I have owned three E46 model BMW's, all purchased new. All have had repeated, yet intermittent turn signal and exterior lighting problems. Most recently I noted another intermittent failure of all the lights in the left rear lamp cluster of my 2002 BMW 330I with ~48,000 miles. After another careful inspection, to include removing each bulb and checking its filament, resistance and connection cleanliness, I found something I had not previously noted--the 7-pin wiring connector was melted at terminal #2, the terminal that appears to be the common ground for all the lamps in the cluster. The car's wiring harness connector (female) and the male pin (#2) both show excessive resistance/heat damage. I have removed it from my car and taken some photographs for submission via an email account to Mr. Ajit alkondon at dot. The part as installed in my car has the following identification: 63.21-6 907 935 date code: 19.9.01 (for September 19th, 2001) time code: 15:54 as an aside, a local BMW dealership has previously replaced the rear bulb carrier on the right side of the car. While it has helped, I am still left with chronic, yet highly intermittent, lamp failures, (as indicated by the car's warning system) for _both_ rear lamp assemblies. At the front of the car, all three E46's I owned have had forward turn signal sockets replaced for corrosion, usually within the first few years or months of ownership.

- Bedford, TX, USA

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