hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,653 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.

2005 BMW 330 lights problems

lights problem

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2005 BMW 330 Owner Comments

problem #17

Jan 012011


  • miles


Insulation cracking on wires to xenon head lights leading to head light failure due to shorting or wire breakage; notation on when it happened is estimate because I had replaced one headlight for this issue several years ago (not knowing it was the cause at the time). I believe this is a manufacturer's defect after noting similar complaints from others. Vehicle has been garage kept. Photos are from wires to both lights. On light that was replaced new wires were spliced to old wires by dealership and photo is of original wire.

- Ocala, FL, USA

problem #16

Mar 102015


  • 31,000 miles
Side mirrors fading into a brown color. Making the visibility through them impossible. Many times I have almost side swiped cars that are on the side of me due to my not being able to see our of my side mirrors. Also front light keeps going out. I have changed it 3 times in two months and it keeps either going out or falling out of the hole making the indicator light come on.

- Leavenworth, KS, USA

problem #15

Aug 132015


  • 138,000 miles
I brought my car to BMW freeport was a tail light recall & they refused to fix my vehicle. Said the harness & wires were melted too much & it would cost $1400 to fix. Now I have a safety hazard as I'm driving with no tail light or my wires could catch on fire. This should be covered for free under a recall from 2011.

- Copiague, NY, USA

problem #14

Apr 262014

330 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles


The projector bowls on my 2005 E46 330I show signs of burning. This problem seems to affect all E46 models with zkw xenon headlights. The burn bowls effect the light output often resulting in a poorly lit view of the road ahead.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #13

Aug 152013


  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 BMW 330ci. The contact stated that while driving at 40 mph, the passenger front headlight failed to illuminate intermittently. The contact also mentioned that the failure was sudden. The vehicle was taken to a dealer and the mechanic stated that igniter, controller, and bulb had to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 63,000.

- Conklin, NJ, USA

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problem #12

Apr 162012

330 6-cyl

  • 87,500 miles
Purchased the car in April 2012. Noticed that the xenon headlights were not outputting as much light as I thought they should. Inspected the area behind the headlights (the reflective bowls) and discovered that they were burned. Upon researching online, I have found that this is a common problem for the zkw xenon equipped BMW 3 series (E46) vehicles, and the NHTSA has many complaints about this problem already. This is a safety defect in my mind. Headlight reflectors should not burn from their designed usage. This will cost thousands of dollars to replace the headlight assemblies. BMW should issue a recall for this serious problem.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #11

Oct 162012

330 6-cyl

  • 52,300 miles


I received a recall letter from BMW for the problem with rear lamps. At that time, all real lamps were working on my car. However for safety concern, I brought my car to be checked; few months later, one of the tail light not working. I took my car back to the dealer, they said they were done for the recall. I need to pay if I want to fix the problem. But I found there was no positive voltage on the light bulb circuit. I traced the wire and discovered the wire was broken. Then I also found all other wires for the tail lights were aging, the plastic of the wires were deteriorated and the copper wire explored to visible. That mean the dealer didn't do the right work last time. Because it's no reason the wire will deteriorate that fast if they did it right for the recall. I complaint to BMW and the representative said they already done with my car. If I need any work to be done I need to pay by myself. The copper wires explored to visible, it would cause electric fire. This is a safety issue. I have the picture showing the aging wire condition on my car. I can email to you if you need it.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #10

Oct 102012


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 BMW 330I. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the headlights were activated but appeared very dim. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where the technician stated that the headlight assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 130,000.

- Wakefield, MN, USA

problem #9

Dec 282012

330 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
Zkw brand xenon headlights - the back of the projector bowl is made of plastic (vs. Metal in the al/Bosch brand, also used by BMW), which over time burns from the heat put out by the headlights. The burn turns the plastic from white to brown/orange, which severely reduces light output, making night driving dangerous. The headlight from my car is so poor that at night I can see the shadow of my car produced from cars behind me. Severe tire damage has been caused due to poor light.

- Trujillo Alto, PR, USA

problem #8

Aug 102011

330 6-cyl

  • miles
In August 2011 I got a warning indicator that there may be a problem with my right taillight. In November 2011 (in for routine service and other work) BMW mechanics at my area dealership informed me that my taillight suffered from the same problems identified in the current recall for 2003-2005 3 series taillights that may cause a fire. BMW told me my VIN "did not appear" to be listed on their recall list and that despite the assessment of their certified mechanics, I would have to file a complaint with NHTSA in order to get you to tell BMW to add my car to the list so that my dealership will fix it. Please do so.

- Leavenworth, KS, USA

problem #7

Nov 282011

330 6-cyl

  • 69,500 miles


Dash mounted warning light indicated tail light issues. Checked the light and all the bulbs were fine but the entire tail light was not working. I then noticed the the brown wire in the connector had melted through the case and was touching other wires in the connector which caused it to short out the entire light. The brown wire has visible signs of melting. I have since found out that this is a common problem with my type BMW and a recall has been issued. Right now my VIN number does not fall under the notice but I have no tail lights.

- Peoria, AZ, USA

problem #6

Nov 012011

330 6-cyl

  • miles
Rear taillights intermittently work. Noticed that the rear connectors, specifically the grounding wire was melted. The turn signals will intermittently not turn on.

- East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #5

Feb 012010


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 BMW 330I. While driving approximately 30 mph, the rear tail light assembly warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact inspected the vehicle and noticed that the rear tail light connecting wires were melted. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 11V438000 (exterior lighting:tail lights) but was advised by the manufacturer that the VIN was not included in the recall. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 85,000.

- Kingwood, TX, USA

problem #4

Oct 102010

330 6-cyl

  • 51,800 miles
Zkw brand xenon headlights - the back of the projector bowl is made of plastic (vs. Metal in the al/Bosch brand, also used by BMW), which over time burns from the heat put out by the headlights. The burn turns the plastic from white to brown/orange, which severely reduces light output, making night driving dangerous. I don't feel comfortable driving at night unless my hi-beams are on, which is hard to pull off unless I'm the only car on the road. This issue is most prevalent in 2002-2005 3 series sedans, and the issue is well documented in the BMW community.

- Kenmore, WA, USA

problem #3

May 012011

330 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Zkw reflectors on hid headlight assembly degrade, greatly reducing the headlight efficiency at night. The plastic of which the reflector bowls are made degrades from headlight heat, and the reflective coating burns.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #2

Jul 052011


  • miles
In 2002-2005 BMW 330I sedans with the xenon headlight feature, BMW opted to use zkw brand headlight assemblies instead of al/Bosch brand assemblies. The zkw brand assemblies have plastic projector reflector bowls whereas the al/Bosch assembies have metal projector reflector bowls. As a result of constant heat and concentration of the xenon bulb on the plastic projector bowl, the reflective surface begins to deteriorate. Soon enough (after a few years of use) the bowls receive brown/blackish burn marks from the concentration of light. The burn marks no longer reflect the xenon light and cause the output from the xenon zkw headlight assembly to be fainter than original state. Numerous individuals on the BMW car forums have experienced similar problems and have made note that this is the cause of their failure. Note: Some 2002-2005 330I sedans did come with al/Bosch brand headlight assemblies.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 102010

330 6-cyl

  • 126,000 miles
2005 BMW 320I. Tail light indicator warning came on. Turns out the wire was melted around the metal where the wire plugs into tail light!! very expensive to fix!

- Truro, 00, USA

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