really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,026 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.

2004 BMW 330 lights problems

lights problem

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2004 BMW 330 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #94

Dec 022013

330 6-cyl

  • 138,000 miles


The bowl of the oem zkw headlight burns out. It is first and foremost a safety hazard. BMW has produced countless cars that are affected, specifically any 3 series with the upgraded xenon headlights. Not only was this an additional option but the cost to rectify light output to a safe level is high. Oem headlights cost $1200 each at the dealership. I feel as though that is the only way to approach this since headlights correlate directly with night driving and safety.

- Carmel, IN, USA

problem #93

Jan 262014

330 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
My 2004 BMW 325ci recently developed a problem with the left rear tail light (turn signal and brake light) intermitently does not work. A left tail light failure also shows on the on board diagnostic display. The problem is intermitent and with no warning. I did some research and found there was a BMW recall for model years 2001 thru 2005 for this exact problem. The recall specifies 325 sedan models, my model is a 325ci (coupe). I called BMW North America and they say my particular model is not covered by the recall. I argued that I am having the exact same issue as the recall suggests, and my vehicle falls into the model years specified. They refused to acknoledge the problem as part of the recall. BMW issued a technical service bulletin (si B63 06 11 lights) for this issue in January of 2012. A recall (id # 71087) was issued Aug. 26, 2011. I was not notified by BMW of either the service bulletin or recall. I am the original purchaser of the vehicle. My wife and I drive this car with our 11 year old daughter in the car, and this is a definite safety hazard. Please help me get this resolved.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #92

May 152013


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the illumination of the headlights was extremely dim. The reflector was discolored and burned, causing improper illumination. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000. Mail out 01/13/15

- Newman, GA, USA

problem #91

Jun 192013


  • 112,000 miles


Thought I had a light problem fixed it first time. Signal on the dash did not go away but the light was on. Went to a different place and fixed it again. And the signal still would not go away. The light works but still show on the dash as if it's broken. I'm afraid by time it's time to get a new registration sticker that it will not pass.

- Dorchester , MA, USA

problem #90

Nov 202013

330 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Headlights very dim when compared to original brightness.

- San Jose, CA, USA

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problem #89

Sep 132010

330 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
The vehicle headlights include the bi-xenon option. Zkw was the original equipment supplier for these headlights. The reflective housing surrounding the bulb suffers from severe degradation and total light output is significantly reduced. Overall nighttime vehicle visibility and safety is greatly affected. I have learned this is a common problem with the make/model/year and option package of the vehicle.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #88

Sep 242013


  • 151,000 miles


Recently purchased said vehicle and it came with zkw hid bi-xenon lighting system which appears the inner plastic bowls are burnt to a crisp with detriment light output making it almost impossible to clearly see unlit roads at night, this is a huge safety concern and needs to be reviewed and solved in a timely manner as it affects thousands of similar vehicles on the road. I'm afraid the reduced light output might appear to other drivers at night that my vehicle is further away that it is in reality giving the possibility of them crossing into my travel path incurring an accident. I know you have been reviewing this for quite some time but we need a resolution soon... thank you.

- Olive Branch, MS, USA

problem #87

Sep 142013


  • 155,000 miles
I purchased the vehicle used with 155xxx miles on it and noticed that the headlights cannot sufficiently light up the road. Upon further inspection, the xenon projector-bowl housing inside the headlights are burnt. Light output is significantly reduced. The lights are manufactured by "zkw"

- Hudson, NH, USA

problem #86

Aug 012010

330 6-cyl

  • 80,500 miles
Headlight output began to dim. Replaced bulb and had clear lens cover cleaned. This did not help. Car is now unsafe to drive at night. Dealership discovered that the heat from the bulb has melted and discolored the reflector for the headlight. Online internet search indicates this is a chronic safety problem with this model of BMW.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #85

Jun 142013

330 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. The contact stated that the rear passenger's side brake light and the rear driver's side blinker would not shut off. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that there were no recalls for the vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 108,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #84

May 012013

330 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles


BMW E46 models have been known for this issue regarding hid/bixenon projector headlights loosing their ability to effectively light the road. My vehicle was equipped with the zkw (BMW brand/manufacture) headlight that BMW used and the reflector bowl for the projector headlamp was partially melted and burned significantly reducing the reflective surface for the headlights to function properly. After some investigation online this is a typical problem with this platform of the BMW 3 series and there is no resolution except complete replacement of the headlamp assembly. The reduced illumination was so bad, that my headlamps would be on at night but my fog lights projected more light on the road and were brighter requiring me to use them on a daily basis for light until I replaced my headlamp assemblies. Given this is a known issue and thousands of BMW E46 owners have to replace their complete headlamp assemblies the NHTSA needs to investigate and help remedy this situation as BMW should be responsible. Please note that BMW had two different suppliers for headlamp assemblies for this series BMW (al Bosch and zkw). The al Bosch lamps are not affected as they utilized metal projector/reflective bowls where the zkw (the affected supplier) used chromed plastic that burns/melts over time.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #83

Apr 102013


  • 108,500 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330xi. The contact stated that the brake, tail and turn signal lights were defective. The lights would not illuminate when activated and the brake lights would not illuminate when the brakes were applied. The contact replaced the brake lights, tail lights and the turn signals but the repairs did not remedy the issue. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign I.D. number: 11V438000 (exterior lights) and called a dealer regarding the recall. The dealer advised the contact that the VIN was not included in the recall campaign. The contact did not call the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 108,500.

- Mcclean, VA, USA

problem #82

May 012013


  • miles
Projectors for the zkw headlights have deteriorated making night driving difficult and dangerous.

- Olympia, WA, USA

problem #81

Apr 012013


  • 61,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330xi. The contact stated that the headlights dimmed erroneously when driving at various speeds. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where it was determined that the reflectors had deteriorated. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 61,000. The VIN was not available.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #80

Jun 012011

330 6-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
I own a 2004 BMW 3 series sedan with optional bi-xenon headlights. About 10,000 miles into my purchase (or 57,000) I began to notice my headlight output deteriorating significantly. My girlfriend owns a 2004 BMW 3 series coupe/convertible also with the optional bi-zenon and 60,000 miles. I compared our vehicles headlights side by side. My bi-xenon headlights in both low and high beam form were significantly dimmer and had a yellow tint when compared to her bi-xenon headlights. This is a common issue on BMW 3 series sedans with the optional bi-xenon headlamps. The problem is that the bi-xenon reflector housing bowl in BMW E46 3 series sedans is made from a different manufacturer than the coupes and convertibles. The headlights in my vehicle are made and classified under the title (zkw). The coupes and convertibles are made and classified under the name (al). The difference is that oem zkw headlights reflector housing bowls are made from a type of plastic. While the oem al headlights are made out of metal. The metal housing in al style headlights in coupes and convertibles are able to stand up to the heat of the xenon bulb, the plastic housings in my sedan are not. Due to this it literally gets too hot and burns the plastic reflective housing to a brown crisp, which is not a reflective surface and deteriorated my headlight output to an extremely unsafe level. The output level has dimmed so that when there is any oncoming traffic my lights get drowned out and I must put on my fog lamps to maintain any type of visibility. The output level is below any halogen lamp I have seen. This is extremely unsafe at any speed and is a known issue on all bi-xenon equipped BMW E46 3 series sedans. BMW is aware of this issue and has done nothing to address this design flaw, which compromises the safety of myself and others. Pictures of the issue are available upon request. Thank you.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #79

Feb 182013


  • miles
My bi-xenon headlights have been slowly fading resulting in extremely poor visibility during normal nightime driving. This degradation has been occurring without my knowledge until it became obvious after driving another vehicle. As it turns out, my mechanic has advised there is a common issue with certain BMW assemblies that the projector lenses literally burn due to heat resulting in the need to replace the entire assembly. This loss of headlight intensity resulting in poor visibility is a significant safety situation and request someone look into why no recall has occurred as this is obviously a safety concern. I have entered today's date as incident date as I am not sure when degradation of the projectors began.

- Davie, FL, USA

problem #78

Feb 042013

330 6-cyl

  • 124,250 miles
The vehicle came equipped from the factory with bi-xenon auto leveling headlights manufactured by zkw. The past couple months, the light output has steadily decreased. Brown scorch marks are visible in the projector when the headlight is on. On the driver's side, the xenon bulb burned off all the reflective material in the projector bowl. The light output from the projectors has been reduced to a thin beam of light. It is becoming very difficult to see while driving at night. This problem is getting progressively worse.

- Agoura Hills, CA, USA

problem #77

Jan 092013


  • 103,000 miles
Burnt bowl in the headlights causing the xenon light to have diminished light output. Night driving is very difficult due to the headlight not being bright enough anymore. Replacement of the assemblies will only fix this temporarily until the bowls but again and the problem returned.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #76

Dec 202012


  • miles
BMW E46 equipped with zkw brand headlights suffer from a burnt, melted, and cracked reflector bowl dramatically reducing the bi-xenon light output, making it difficult and unsafe to drive at night. This is a very common issue and needs to be resolved for drivers and others safety during night.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #75

Sep 192012

330 6-cyl

  • 99,960 miles
E46 BMW's with zkw xenon head lamps suffer from poor bulb projectors which burn to the point that light output is nearly none. This is defect is known by bmwna but nothing has been done to correct it.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

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