really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,901 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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #47

Sep 152010

330 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


I purchased my 2004 BMW 330I in Sept 2010, at least in part because it was advertised as having factory installed xenon lights and I have always wanted brighter headlights than other cars I have owned. Within 3 months I was so disgusted with the dimness of those xenon's that I purchased 2 new D2S bulbs and had them installed at the cost of about $400. (I was told that even xenon's "wear out" over time so I figured I would bite the bullet this one time) I found right away that these new bulbs were no better than I had before. As a matter of fact, the right side lights shined against a wall were actually dimmer than a D cell flashlight. I suffered though trying to drive with my passing lights on at night (you actually have to hold the high beam stick in to get these lights to stay on ) for a year before I decided to replace the whole headlight assembly but no-one sells a replacement for the xenon equipped cars. I then removed the assemblies myself and was shocked to see clear signs of burning or corrosion on the inside of the reflector bowls. No wonder the lights would not shine on the highway. It is so bad that every time I am passed on the highway at night I actually see my car's shadow directly in front of me from the headlights of the car 50-100 feet behind me. I now understand from further investigation this is an ongoing problem with zkw headlights on E46 BMW's. I do not have the technical expertise or extra cash to fix these defects. Can you help?? no accidents or injuries have occurred yet but I have seen many pedestrians or bikers as I pass them at night on the side of the road that I never saw until I was next to them.

- Mishawaka, IN, USA

problem #46

Jan 072012

330 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Headlights have gradually lowered light output to the point that the vehicle is unsafe to operate in dark conditions. This condition has apparently happened to many other vehicles of the same make and model, and may have something to do with the low beam reflectors on 2003-2004 zkw hid headlights were made of some material that degraded when subjected to the heat produced by oem xenon bulbs.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #45

Nov 012011

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Reflective coating melted inside the headlights, rendering them useless. Extremely expensive to replace.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #44

Dec 142011


  • 56,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked and he noticed that the low beam headlights were illuminated with an inadequate amount of brightness. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis and the technician stated that the plastic reflector bowls were poorly designed. The technician also stated that these bowls melted over an extended period of time due to heat exposure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 56,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Spring Hill, FL, USA

problem #43

Aug 012011


  • miles
My headlights are not very bright and it looks like the reflective coating inside the light has been cooked off. I had a 2001 and the lights were much better they were the same hid xenon type. Thank you

- Thomasville , NC, USA

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problem #42

Dec 232008


  • 35,000 miles
Extremely low output. Very dim.

- Graham, AL, USA

problem #41

Aug 012008


  • miles


My 2004 BMW 330I, with zkw produced headlight components, suffers from what appears to be a known issue with the projector bulb reflectors burning after approximately 50,000 miles of driving time. This results in a diminished light output, and is a definite safety concern. Please address this issue as I believe BMW is aware of the issue, yet will do nothing to remedy the issue with it's owners.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #40

May 012008

330 6-cyl

  • 38,520 miles
Zkw xenon headlights equipped on the car have a plastic reflector bowl for the low beam. The oem light bulb burns hot and melted the plastic reflector bowl. This causes a severe loss of projected light to the road. Many times I have to drive with high beams on to see more than 10-15 ft in front of the car cause me to blind other drivers. BMW nor zkw recognize this as an issue and my dealer suggested I buy a whole new headlight assembly for 1.5K (each side) to fix the issue. This should be recalled because it is a design failure. The later versions on the zkw headlights use metal reflector bowls (not interchangeable with earlier version) so the issue is know to them.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #39

Dec 132011

330 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The xenon projector assembly is made out of plastic and is burning/melting. The light output is roughly 20% of the original.

- Waltham, MA, USA

problem #38

Nov 172011


  • miles
2003 and 2004 3 series models with xenon headlamps manufactured by zkw have a defect in which the heat from the xenon headlight bulbs are melting the plastic projectors or reflector bowls. This causes a drastic reduction in projected light. The first sign of the problem is discoloration of the chrome coated plastic reflector bowl. Eventually the reflector bowls show signs of melting. It seems the cause is likely a combination of the xenon bulbs being too close to the plastic reflectors and or the plastic's heat resistance is not high enough. In 2005 BMW had picked a new manufacturer for xenon headlamps that have an aluminum reflector bowl. However BMW will not admit that the zkw brand headlamps have a defect. The only solution BMW has offered is to have the headlamps replaced for $2400 with the same zkw seemingly defective lamps. This is not a solution as it doesn't solve the problem and is only a temporary and expensive fix in my opinion. Even the high beam mode is not bright enough to safely drive at night. There are also halogen lamps that act as running lights during the day and are intermittent flashers. In order to see while driving at night, I have had to hold down the flasher stick on the left side of the steering wheel in order to keep the halogen flashers on. It is tempting to re-wire the halogen lamps to the high beam switch so I do not have to hold the stick the entire time I am driving. Even though the halogens are not intended to be driving lights, it is much safer in my opinion to use them as a substitute even though it is dangerous to on-coming traffic due to the brightness and projection angle of the halogen lights. It is ridiculous to me that I would have to go to these lengths just to have safe driving lights. I think BMW should offer a re-call for these xenon headlights and supply a new part that is not defective as the zkw lights seem to be.

- Uvalde, TX, USA

problem #37

Aug 162010

330 6-cyl

  • miles


Problem began with rear right tail light working intermittently. Now the problem is occurring with the left tail light and front right signal. Problem prevents other drivers from knowing when I am braking or making a right turn. I have tried replacing bulbs but problem still persist and appears to be a problem with the wiring. I have called BMW North America to inquire about recall and I have not received any solid information on how to have my vehicle repaired.

- Freeport, NY, USA

problem #36

Nov 182009


  • miles
The rear turn signals repeatedly fail. The wiring is melted. While this issue is addressed in NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000, my car is not included in the recall. The recall should be expanded to include more cars. I called BMW customer service. They are indifferent to this issue and completely unconcerned about the safety issues created by their negligent manufacturing. Thanks,

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #35

Jul 082011


  • 120,000 miles
I own a 2004 BMW 330I M-performance edition. My headlights are manufactured by a company called zkw. I am Canadian and my car is a Canadian car but the faulty part in question is common to both us-spec and cdn-spec BMW 3-series. My headlight output is extremely poor. In inclement weather, this issue is compounded. I now must always run with my foglights on to aid the headlights. This is not a safe solution to the problem. Foglights are designed to help the driver see your more immediate surroundings. The distance that the light is shone is much shorter than it should be. I am not able to see more that 3-5 meters in front of my vehicle. The 'incident' date noted above is when I had struck a raccoon with my vehicle that I should have seen much much sooner, giving me more time to react or make an evasive maneuver. This is significant because I was not traveling faster than 60-70 kph. The result was a $1,200 repair to my front bumper and bumper trim which sustained damage from the animal. From what I understand, all 3-series purchased in 2003 and 2004 which feature xenon-headlights made by zkw suffer from a design flaw with the reflector bowl. Over time this reflector bowl, which is made of plastic, tends to get fried and discoloured as a result of the heat emanating from the xenon bulb. This causes the reflector bowl to lose it's reflective properties and as result, light output is extremely poor. For model year 2005, BMW went with a different headlight manufacturer which offered headlights which featured and aluminum reflector bowl which is more resilient to the temperatures caused by the xenon bulb. To me, this shows BMW acknowledging the design flaw, especially since model year 2005 was the last year BMW made a 3-series sedan in this chassis.

- Oakville, CA, USA

problem #34

Nov 032008

330 6-cyl

  • miles
The xenon headlights burn and discolor the reflective housing and the lens cover discolors. This makes the headlight virtually useless when driving at night. You would be better off mounting two fisher-price toy flashlights up front. This is a major safety hazard. In order to see I must turn on my fog lights or drive with my highbeams on.

- Sharpsburg, GA, USA

problem #33

Jul 152011


  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. While driving approximately 65 mph, the contact noticed that the visibility of the headlight reflectors was very poor. After inspecting the headlights the contact noticed that the area around the headlight reflectors was burned. The contact replaced the bulb. The failure continued after the replacement of the bulbs. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated that the headlight assembly would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 117,000.

- Lakeville , MN, USA

problem #32

Oct 262005


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330I. The contact stated that the exterior lights would only work intermittently with the illumination of an unknown warning light. The dealer was notified of the failure who advised that her VIN was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting: Tail lights). The manufacturer was also contacted who confirmed that her VIN was not included in the recall and offered no further assistance. The failure mileage was 115,000.

- Lakeville, MN, USA

problem #31

May 032004


  • miles
I have noted that the zkw brand hid headlights on my BMW are less than adequate at providing significant lighting for night driving conditions. I found upon disassembly of my headlight assembly the reflective base or "bowl" is a coated plastic part that has been significantly discolored from normal use. I am filing a report to have NHTSA look further into the problem and recommend the party responsible offer a reasonable fix. Currently the factory (BMW) recommends replacement of a $1200 (each, two total) headlight assembly. I request a mandate by the NHTSA for replacement of the affected headlight assembly's by BMW, at BMW own cost. I feel the sub standard manufacturing process of this vital part may cause significant safety risks for people who require the proper function of the headlight.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #30

Jan 012010

330 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Bi-xenon headlights gradually grew dimmer after about 100,000 (6 years) the lights were unsafe to use after dark. The lights were repaired by an automotive lighting specialty shop by installing aftermarket headlight projectors. The original reflector bowls on the zkw manufactured projectors were burned and partially melted by the xenon bulbs and was no longer projecting the light ahead of the vehicle.

- Wilson, NC, USA

problem #29

Jan 302009

330 6-cyl

  • 83,293 miles
The zkw-brand xenon headlights that came equipped on the vehicle (a 2004 BMW 330I) have lost their brightness intensity, resulting in nighttime light output that is dangerously low. The problem specifically is that the heat from the projector bulbs melt or discolor the reflective bowls, which decreases the high- and low-beam light output. The heat also discolors the plastic headlight lenses. The bulbs still throw a very low level of light, but without the reflectivity they do little to illuminate the road at night. Service records indicate that BMW noted the problem on my vehicle in the first three months of 2009, but if the parts were replaced they have failed again since then. This is a non-wear item. Many other vehicle owners have also reported this problem.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #28

Jul 052010


  • miles
Xenon (zkw) headlamps in the car are burnt, thus diminishing 80% of light that is supposed to be coming from the lamp. Very dangerous for night travel.

- Mountain Top, PA, USA

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