really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
96,743 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 330 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 BMW 330 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Oct 022016


  • 153,000 miles


I've had this issue for many years now but never thought about the potential consequences. Other people have had these issues as can be found when doing searches on the internet. This problem involves the door not unlocking after being locked via the center console, key fob, or auto lock feature when vehicle is mobile. This has been reported across multiple build types during the early 2000's. this is potentially dangerous especially in an accident or fire when occupants cannot safely and quickly exit the car without having the break the window and climb out because the doors will not even unlock when you pull the latch which should disengage the "locked" state. I had go tend to a patient at the hospital today for emergency surgery and could not get out of my car without having to roll down my window, then use my key to unlock my door from the lock cylinder on the outside. However I was unable to retrieve anything else from my car and had to do so from the driver door only. This can be life threatening in the wrong situations. This involves the general module 5 or "GM5" and should be investigated for a potential safety recall as it is intermittent.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #21

Jul 182014

330 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 #20

May 102014

330 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 #19

May 082014

330 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


GM5 electric module stopped communicating with remote control. Various intermittent activity for driver door unlock mechanism and passenger unlock mechanism by any available internal hard-wired or remote button. 100% failure of footwell trunk release button.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #18

May 252012


  • 79,000 miles
I was in a parking garage the weekend after I had just bought my 2003 BMW 330xi man it was beautiful, I had my girlfriend with me at the time. Upon trying to exit the vehicle we couldn't nothing would unlock the doors, nothing would roll down the windows, this was extremely embarrassing to be happening on a date. She couldn't believe we were stuck in the car and there was no way out. Luckily having my cell phone I was able to call 911 so they could help me. I managed to have the sunroof open at the time and was able to hand them my keys where they could place the key inside of the key hole and manual unlock the doors. This is only the first experience I ever had. I only called the police so they could take note of the issue of the safety. I have taken family out for outings only to find out they all have to climb out of windows or through the drivers door. I've even had to climb out of my own car I refuse to put a dime into fixing this as its caused me embarrassment to the point I hardly drive it unless I go somewhere alone. I even have a seat belt that doesn't work for no reason. The GM5 needs to be recalled image if I had a child or family back there the car was on fire and the only way to get them out is to open the door and you can't because of a faulty piece of equipment.

- Kokomo, IN, USA

problem #17

Jul 312013

330 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 #16

Jun 252013

330 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 #15

Mar 312012


  • 120,000 miles
Drove for about 2 hours. Left the car parked for about 3 hours. When I tried to unlock passenger door via remote key fob it did not. I got inside the car and tried to unlock it manually but it still did not let me. I had my handicapped sister with me and it was impossible to get her inside the car. I had somebody come to pick her up after over 3 hours. I have never seen another car that will not unlock at least manually when you pull the door lever on the inside or lift the lock mechanism manually. Next day the lock worked in the morning but as the day got hotter it stopped working again and it would not unlock even manually.

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #14

Dec 282012

330 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Please note that this incident happened prior to the date and mileage noted above as the previous owner had to also deal with this problem. I report the dates as when I received the car when it came into my ownership only. Driver's door lock failed to electronically and mechanically unlocked from the inside. The door can only be opened from the outside with a key. This poses a potentially grave safety concern as no one can open the door from inside - essentially passengers may become locked-in. Culprit appears to be BMW E46 GM V module factory coding where glitch prevents door locks from behaving appropriately. Aftermarket reprogramming fixes the issue. This is a very common issue for BMW E46 vehicles - internet search "BMW GM V control module" for details and testimonials. BMW should be held responsible and fix the issue.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #13

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 #12

Dec 012010


  • 120,000 miles


About 2 or so years ago I started to notice my night driving was becoming unpleasant and unsafe due to the fact that my headlights were losing output. After replacing the plastic lenses new from BMW I then went on to buying new bulbs thinking that would make a diff. It didn't. 10-12-12 today my lights are yellow/foggy on the inside like smoke has made the lenses opaque and my output is barely seen, I looked on the back where the bulb is inserted and it sure looks brown in there, I get more light reflected on the ground when I turn my turn signals than I do on the headlights. After going online and searching, my car came from factory with a defect zkw xenon headlight system, which 99% of the zkw headlight owners of E46 sedans found online have the same issue, all you have to do is google "E46 zkw burnt bowls". I have a 4 month old little girl, I cannot imagine driving with her in the car on a rainy night and my concern is now my baby. I can send you pictures if needed please, thank you for reading and I appreciate your help.

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #11

Jul 112012

330 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
Central locking mechanism is going crazy. If I were in a crash, the car is supposed to unlock the doors, turn on the flashers, etc. This will not happen with the central locking mechanism working intermittently. If I am injured in an accident it may be more difficult for paramedics to get to me. I was actually locked in my car today when I arrived at school. I had to crawl out the window and thankfully I was able to roll up the window with the key in the door. I have read that this may stop working as well. This is very concerning, online I have read that this can cost around $750 to fix at the local BMW stealership (whoops, dealership). BMW should fix this if they are concerned with their drivers safety.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #10

Jul 042012


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330 xi. The contact stated that while the vehicle was parked, the instrument panel caught fire. The vehicle was destroyed. The police were contacted and a fire report was on file. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was contacted and they confirmed that the VIN qualified for repairs under NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:brake lights). The failure and current mileages were 110,000.

- Union Town, PA, USA

problem #9

Jun 232012

330 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 #8

Jan 052012

330 6-cyl

  • miles
The doors on our bmx 330xi will lock and we cannot unlock them from the inside or the outside using the interior or exterior door handles or the key fob. My wife and kids had to climb out of the windows to get out of the vehicle. If there was an accident they would have been trapped. I called the BMW dealer and they told me to have it towed and they would take a look at it. This has happened several times and it is an extreme safety issue. I have researched it and it appears to be a very common problem on the 300 series. It has happened a few times and then the problem goes away. I hope no one gets hurt because they get trapped in their vehicle. Thank god that my family was physically able to climb out of the windows, if they were elderly or disabled they would have been trapped. This is an extremely dangerous safety defect that needs to be investigated, addressed and remedied by the manufacturer.

- Sahuarita, AZ, USA

problem #7

Apr 042011

330 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 #6

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 #5

Aug 032010

330 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 #4

May 022011

330 6-cyl

  • 72,577 miles
Intermittent failure of driver and passenger side tail light assembly due to burnt connector pins and connector housing. Inadequate connector/wire rating. Should be subject of a recall from a responsible car manufacturer. Unsafe to drive in the dark. Blemish on the ultimate driving machine. Intermittent failure of the mostly passenger side head light. Occasional failure of the driver side head light. Normally the light bulb would require replacement, but often the whole lighting unit is considered failing by the dealer. Cost of replacement is extremely high.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #3

Sep 062011

330 6-cyl

  • 73,229 miles
The passenger doors fail to open with the internal door unlock button. This is due to failure of door unlock relays in the GM5 module. This could result in a significant safety issue if a failure of the unlock relay happens when attempting to unlock passenger doors in an emergency to retrieve passengers.

- Garland, TX, USA

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