hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,728 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 lights problems

lights problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 BMW 330:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 BMW 330 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Dec 012009


  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. The vehicle was included in the recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights). The manufacturer was contacted and stated that the wiring connector would have to be replaced prior to performing the recall repairs. The wiring connector would not be covered under the recall repairs. The contact stated that the consequences of the recall had damaged the wiring connector and he felt it should be covered under the recall. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Brentwood, CA, USA

problem #24

May 252011

330 6-cyl

  • 105,952 miles
My BMW 2003 330I is equipped with zkw headlight assemblies that have plastic xenon projector bowls installed inside the headlight assemblies. After several years of usage these projector bowls burn out and as a result, the reflective coating that allows light to be focused through the projectors are burned off reducing effective light output from the headlight assembly. Upon inspection, both my headlight assemblies suffered approximately 50% loss in effective light output due to burned out xenon projector bowls and I found that my fog lights were putting out more light than both my zkw headlights. This problem affects all 3-series sedans made from 2002 - 2005. There have been many people who have, as a result of BMW inaction to do the right thing and correct this serious safety deficiency, either replaced their original zkw headlight assemblies with depot aftermarket headlight assembles or have replaced the defected zkw projector bowls with al projector bowls or fx-R projector bowls. This problem needs to be addressed as it is a serious road safety issue while driving at night.

- West Greenwich, RI, USA

problem #23

Dec 112011


  • 111,000 miles
Zkw bi xenon headlights reflectors burn out over time. The bowls are shot and they were black, burned to a crisp. They were made out of a plastic material with a chrome coating, instead of a metal reflector. This should be a recall for BMW. They got the tail light which works fine in my car, I need my headlights to see!

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #22

Nov 012011


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 3series. The contact stated that the rear tail light warning indicator illuminated on the instrumental panel. After checking the rear of the vehicle, the tail light appeared to be operating as designed. The warning light would illuminate on an intermittent basis. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer nor repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised him that the vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights). The failure mileage was approximately 80,000.

- Wildwood, GA, USA

problem #21

Nov 082011


  • 38,000 miles
Headlights fail randomly. Headlights flicker, turn off, turn back on. Independent of speed or weather conditions. Bulb testing after this failure indicate that the bulbs are not failing (they are not burned out).

- Bethesda, MD, USA

Search CarComplaints.com for these popular complaint phrases...

problem #20

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 #19

Jun 012008


  • 42,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. While parked, the contact noticed that the tailgate light warning light was illuminated. The contact inspected the vehicle and noticed that the resistor cable and the outlet plug connected to the tail light wires were melted. The contact stated the turn signal and brake light failed intermittently and alternated functions. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics and was not repaired. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:turn signal) but was not aware if the vehicle was included in the recall. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and advised that the VIN was not included in the recall. The approximate failure mileage was 42,000.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #18

Jan 012010

330 6-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
The zkw brand high intensity discharge (hid) / xenon headlights installed from the factory in to my 2003 BMW 330I degraded to a point where visibility at night was almost zero unless I drove with the high beams and/or fog lights on. Replacing the bulbs did not remedy the problem. The cause was burnt "reflector bowls" which are not replaceable. The whole headlight assembly must be replaced at $1000-1300 per side. I had the headlights repaired by a specialist (at a cost of nearly $700) as I was not ready to pay $2600 to replace the headlights with another set of zkw assemblies which would no doubt fail like every set of zkw headlamps installed in 2003-2004 330I sedans. I do not feel that headlights should be a 'wear and tear' item. They are obviously a critical safety component. The deterioration of light output is slow and takes time, so people may not realize anything is wrong with their headlights until they are driving with almost no output on the road.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #17

Jan 012011

330 6-cyl

  • 79,842 miles
In the headlight assembly manufactured by zkw, the reflective ballasts are made of plastic and melt, thereby decreasing light output. The darkness is barely illuminated, thereby making driving at night almost impossible. There is no known dealer part to replace or upgrade, save for purchasing expensive light assemblies. The car has not been repaired or examined by technicians.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #16

Jun 102011

330 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Zkw manufactured xenon headlamps for BMW 330I E46 cars. The projectors become scorched over time, causing dangerously low light output and not being able to see at night.

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #15

Jun 012009


  • 98,000 miles


The low beam reflectors on 2003-2004 zkw branded high intensity discharge xenon oem hid headlights on the 3 series BMW from that model year (sedan) were made of some painted material that degraded when subjected to the heat produced by the oem xenon bulbs. This results in a significantly decreased light output as the reflector became scorched. If it's bad enough, there is no light being projected on the road and it is very hard to see anything with the normal headlights. Either the high beams have to be used or the foglights have to be turned on. This is a safety issue. I would imagine that BMW and zkw were and are aware of the defect as the newer, redesigned headlights do not suffer from this problem. Replacement oem headlights cost $1200 for each side.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #14

Jun 172011


  • 90,000 miles
BMW E46 3-series sedans with the zkw-brand xenon headlamps have defective headlights. The projector reflector bowls burn out, reducing light output, making the car less safe to drive at night. As far as I know, all the E46 sedans with zkw-brand xenon headlamps suffer from this problem to one degree or another. Replacement with new oem parts typically runs more than $800 per side. My car has the burned zkw projector bowls, though in my case it has not caused any specific accident. I believe this should be a safety recall and BMW should replace all defective xenon projector headlamp assemblies.

- Dana Point, CA, USA

problem #13

Apr 012011


  • 44,800 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the service tail light symbol illuminated on the dashboard intermittently. The contact disconnected the plastic where the light bulb was located and found that the plastic was melted and corroded due to faulty wiring. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who informed the contact that there were no recalls and offered the contact a discount for the repairs. The manufacturer advised the contact that since his vehicle was no longer under warranty that they would not be able to provide any assistance. The current and failure mileage was 44,800.

- Tenafly, NJ, USA

problem #12

Feb 222011

330 6-cyl

  • 74,023 miles
Recently I bought a 2003 BMW 330I with xenon projector headlights. The low- and high-beam output of these lights is very poor, with very little usable light when driving on lit or unlit roads at night. Compared to standard halogen lamps on my other cars (1990 BMW 525I, 2004 Saturn ion) I would rate them at 40% and 30% output respectively, and both of the other cars use standard halogen lamps. Research on this issue found the headlamp reflector used by BMW for these lights (zkw branded) is made of plastic instead of metal and begins to overheat and melt over time, reducing light output and eventually failing completely. BMW does not offer replacement reflectors, plastic or otherwise, and the only option using manufacturer parts is to replace the entire unit at a cost of approximately $2000 (for the pair). I find this completely unreasonable considering the headlights are critical components for driving at night, and a $2K 'wear part' is grossly excessive.

- Appleton, WI, USA

problem #11

Dec 122010

330 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Lens cover for head lights on BMW 325 I with only 65K in southern California are severely oxidized limiting vision at night. Called BMW and basically stated warranty has expired.

- Altadena, CA, USA

problem #10

Nov 012009


  • 80,000 miles
Around November 2009 I started to notice the unmodified factory xenon headlamps in our car seemed dim. Over the next year they seemed to dim considerably and after the recent end of daylight savings time resulted in a significant increase in my night-time driving, I have found the headlamps to provide nearly no projected light. Upon inspection of the light assembly I have discovered that BMW built these headlamps using a chrome-coated plastic reflector to direct the light forward to the road. It appears the design used placed the bulb too near the reflector or used plastic with inadequate temperature resistance and the bowl itself has gradually burnt to the point where it no longer reflects light. There has not been a fire at this point but the plastic appears to be failing structurally now (burn through) and I fear what would happen if I allowed it to progress further. The light projected with low beams on now is so inadequate the car cannot be safely used for night driving. BMW does not sell replacement reflector bowls to allow repair of the head lamp assembly and the only option to remedy this issue is to purchase a pair of new head lamp assemblies at approximately $1,200 each. I have contacted both my local BMW dealer and BMW cars North America and neither has offered an engineering or customer service solution to this problem.

- Littleton, CO, USA

problem #9

Jul 012009


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 330I. The contact stated that when the brake caution light illuminated, the brake light, tail light and turn signals failed suddenly. The contact replaced the rear bulb several time. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The contact planned to speak with the manufacturer. The failure mileage was approximately 50,000 and the current mileage was approximately 60,000.

- Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #8

Aug 152010


  • 40,000 miles
Intermittent function of left tail light assembly, despite functional light bulbs. Assembly removed and 7 pin connector noted to have overheated at pin 2, melting surrounding plastic.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #7

Aug 102008


  • 90,127 miles
Please let this notice serve as a formal petition for an investigation of a safety-related design defect. The rear tail light bulbs aren't working on the driver's side. The ground wire in the connector, connecting to the bulb carrier seems to be damaged due to a bad ground. I have been replacing bulbs for the last two years.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #6

Jul 012010


  • 110,000 miles
I own a 2003 BMW 330I sedan that came from the factory with xenon headlights. These headlights were manufactured by zkw. Over time, the reflective material inside the headlight assembly burns and degrades. This is due to the fact that zkw used a plastic reflector housing which cannot withstand the heat of the xenon bulb. When burned, the headlights no longer provide adequate lighting to safely drive at night. The suggested resolution per BMW is to purchase new headlight assemblies at $1200 per side. Note: BMW used another manufacturer (automotive lighting, al) for later models and those vehicles with al lights don't suffer from this failure due to the fact that al used metal reflectors not plastic like zkw.

- Fairfax Station, VA, USA

Read the next 5 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?