really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,334 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 1 of 7)

problem #130

Jan 122016


  • 215,000 miles


The adaptive bixenon headlights use biodegradable wiring. This wiring cannot withstand the headlights adaptive headlight movement. These wires can tear or worse the insulation can crumble off. This leads to a huge fire risk. Furthermore, BMW does not have any form of fixing the problem. They only sell new headlight units that have the same issue. To be clear, no incident occurred to cause this issue other than standard use of the car. It is a ticking time bomb on all cars using this wiring, which also includes the E60 M5 platform. The result is headlights that can turn off at any time or worse they can short and cause a fire.

- Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #129

Jun 112018


  • miles
The stock zkw projectors have burnt out and significantly reduce the quality of light emanating from the headlights. In order to have any true visibility, I have to hold the "flash-to-pass" lights on while I'm driving (a manual transmission). This is obviously a dangerous situation. The replacement assemblies are over $3,000 for the pair. That cost cannot be justified. I purchased the car a couple of months ago, but I, of course, did not test drive it at night (since it was summer). So I had no way of knowing about the deteriorated condition of the headlights. I cannot say for certain when this happened, but, based on internet searches, it appears to be a known issue that dates back to at least 2011.

- Marysville, WA, USA

problem #128

Aug 192017


  • 178,000 miles
The oem xenon zkw brand lights had completely burnt reflector bulbs that caused low light to be emitted. This defect is due to plastic bowls being used instead of metal or another material. The damage could have caused a fire hazard or worse. I was forced to replace the lights at my own expense. I have attached photos of the damage and light output to this complaint. This occurred simply by having the headlights on.

- Woodinville, WA, USA

problem #127

Oct 072016


  • 94,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. While driving and/or parked, the rear passenger side lamp turn signal failed. The contact stated that the instrument panel illuminated. The vehicle was driven to a mechanic. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting). The approximate failure mileage was 94,000.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #126

Jan 022017


  • miles
Headlights project almost no light. Just paid $130 to have lenses cleaned, no improvment. I thought it was my eyes and complained to opthamologist twice but my eyes are ok. I've read tht the reflector bowls in this model melt from the heat of the bulb. I need to remedy this situation asap so I will not be able to wait for an investigation.

- Greenbrae, CA, USA

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problem #125

Nov 062016

330 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Zkw brand xenon headlamps have defective reflector bowls. The lights burn off all of the reflective surface causing the low/high beams to be so dim that driving at night is impossible. The part (reflector bowl) is not available as a replacement part, it can only be purchased as a whole headlight assembly for $1300 each light. This is a major safety issue, that I have just found out about. As we have been getting into winter and the daylight saving change cause earlier sunset times, I noticed my headlights were not very bright on the road. It hasn't been an issue that I noticed in past years due to my <1 mile commute, but this year I purchased a house 25mi from work and the amount of night driving has increased dramatically. I first adjusted the alignment of the lights to try to correct what I thought the issue was, and also have replaced one of the head light bulbs with no change. I found out about this issue on BMW forums all over the internet, and it seems to be extremely common. There needs to be a recall, or at least an oem replacement part available.

- Northwood, NH, USA

problem #124

Nov 142016


  • 114,000 miles


Headlight wiring on my 2004 BMW 330ci degraded prematurely accelerated by heat and high voltage until it caused my headlight to fail while driving on the interstate in the early evening. The symptom was caused by the supply wires to the igniter losing there insulation at stressed harness attachment point, arced over, and caused the copper conductors to become brittle. This symptom was seen on the projector assembly wiring as well as the daylight running light which did not exhibit the copper breakdown. Insulation of both assemblies crumbled to flakes when touched and rendered the headlight assembly unusable. This fault could just as easily cause a fire in the headlight assembly during which the specified headlight fuses may not provide protection to the associated vehicle systems. The only provided solution from the manufacturer is to buy a new assembly for a component which should only require periodic replacement of the lamps when they burn out. Fortunately my car also flood lights which helped to light the way when the headlamp failed.

- Hallandale Beach, FL, USA

problem #123

Nov 062016


  • miles
Low beam hid headlight projector made by zkw for BMW are poorly designed/made, unable to handle the heat output from the oem xenon bulbs, the part becomes severely scorched and degraded, reducing light output to unsafe levels. To compensate, fog lights have to be used to safely see the pavement. This is a very well documented issue with this manufacturer's product (zkw). BMW had another manufacturer, al (automotive lighting), which didn't suffer from this problem.

- Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #122

Oct 152016


  • 106,000 miles
I recently purchased the vehicle and immediately noticed the poor light output from the factory xenons. I went online and found out that many people with the E46 sedan with xenon headlights manufactured by zkw have an issue of the projector bowls burning slowly over time due to poor material choice that cannot withstand the heat generated by the factory bulbs. Upon inspection of my headlights, I noticed that the bowls in my headlights were indeed both burnt and cracked and as a result of this, it is extremely difficult to see at night due to poor light output. I have resulted to using my fog lights as a supplementary light source just to see in the evenings and I find this unacceptable and negligent of BMW considering complaints have been made for years.

- Ball Ground, GA, USA

problem #121

Jul 012015


  • miles
My headlights are so dim at night it is impossible to see without high beams on at all times. The fog lights are brighter than my new headlight bulbs. Only solution seems to replace the whole assembly but after researching this seems to be an ongoing issue with BMW so why should I have to spend over $1500 when they should have to replace them with a recall.

- Cartersville, GA, USA

problem #120

Jul 192016


  • miles


The left tail light is intermittently off. Each time I step on the brakes, the tail light randomly turns on or off. My right headlight is off, too. I switched the bulbs from left to right and they still work. I can't check my fuses because my glovebox doesn't open anymore.

- St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #119

Feb 162016


  • 92,000 miles
Vehicle has very poor headlight visibility at night due to burnt out plastic reflector bowls from BMW's sub-supplier zkw. Replacement bowls are not available for purchase from BMW. Only fix from them is replacing the entire headlight assembly which costs thousands of dollars.

- Clifford, IN, USA

problem #118

Aug 252011


  • miles
Takata recall. The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330xi. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign numbers: 11V438000 (exterior lighting), 15V318000 (air bags) and 14V428000 (air bags) however, the parts to do the repairs were unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repairs. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. VIN tool confirms parts not available.

- Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, USA

problem #117

Nov 052015


  • 126,000 miles
Headlights no longer illuminate due to deteriorating headlight material considered a defect due to inferior plastic used when originally manufactured. Low illumination level creates a serious safety hazard to driver and public causing severe injuries and damage. The high cost of replacing these headlight assemblies cannot be burdened by the vehicle owners. Based on my research this vehicle condition has been reported asking the governing entities to take action by recalling the vehicle and having the manufacturer correct the defect.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #116

Oct 182015


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 BMW 330ci. The contact stated that the passenger side tail light failed to illuminate. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting). The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 73,000.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #115

Sep 102013


  • 100,000 miles
Over the last couple of years I have noticed that the headlights ability to provide good visibility at night has reduced dramatically, especially when raining or wet roads. I made sure the lenses were clear and new bulbs did not help. After doing some research on the internet I found thru several forums that this is a common issue with bmws' equipped with the zkw brand of bi-xenon headlights. The reason is the projector bowels are made of plastic and over time burn due to the excessive heat generated by the xenon bulb.so much so that the reflector bowls turn black instead of silver and therefore cannot reflect the light produced by the bulb. The fog lights provide more light or if there is someone following me the car behind me provides far more light than my own car. This is a serious safety issue and should be subject to recall. The only way to remedy that I have found so far is to replace the projector bowls withe after market ones which requires some modifications at a cost of about $800. Us.

- Tecumseh, MI, USA

problem #114

Sep 012014


  • 150,000 miles
The headlights are useless at night. The bulbs all function perfectly, but the reflector housings are "worn" according to my mechanic. I understand the need to replace bulbs over the lifetime of a vehicle, but $3,000 for a whole new headlight assembly is outrageous! this is a design defect that the NHTSA refuses to investigate. There are thousands of complaints regarding this design defect all over the internet. This is a serious safety issue!

- Orefield, PA, USA

problem #113

Jul 312015


  • 135,000 miles
Light output from my car is extremely poor causing a safety concern. Upon investigating why the light output is so poor, I have determined that like many others the lights fitted into this 2004 BMW 330I are manufactured for BMW by a company called zkw who used plastic for the reflector lenses for the hid assemblies. This plastic degrades and becomes burnt which significantly diminishes the light output, even from new oem bulbs that were installed in the car. A light meter indicates that these lights now have less than 50% of the light output of the same car using lights manufactured by al that BMW also used on these vehicles. Longevity of light output availability through lighting design and manufacture should not be considered a wear item by the vehicle maker. This is for the safety of both the vehicle owner and others on the road who may be subjected to a crash caused by poor visibility.

- Holly Springs, NC, USA

problem #112

Apr 062009

330 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Head lights are very dim. Reflectors are burned. Headlights do not project on the road. Cannot see at night.

- Spring Green, WI, USA

problem #111

Mar 242015


  • 140,000 miles
The headlight reflectors on this car (and other of this year model) are manufactured by zkw and they have failed causing very low, unsafe levels of light output. The reflectors are burnt and cracked. The only way to get any reasonable or safe light output for night driving is to use the fog lights and this is an unsafe condition and I am surprised there hasn't been a recall. This is a well known problem. Unsafe lighting and proceed while unknowingly endangering themselves and others. Do not pass state inspection light out put in some states, this problem should be address, if you look on the inter net people are modifying them to give more light witch makes it more unsafe.

- Dillsburg, PA, USA

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