really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,209 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.

2008 BMW 535 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2008 BMW 535 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Nov 072016


  • 135,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 BMW 535xi. While driving approximately 60 mph, the vehicle overheating warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle stalled without warning. The contact pulled over and the vehicle was restarted. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the electric water pump failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 135,000.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #43

Oct 252016

535 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
I ordered new light bulbs to change out my halo angel bulb lights (running parking lamps).which said they were out on my screen inside of the BMW. When I twisted off the housing cap in the back, the wiring inside of my headlight housing which turns on my parking lights left and right is totally degraded and flaked off, the copper cables were touching everywhere.I read this is because germany use biodegradable material but this is a very dangerous fire hazard for driving on the highways and road in Florida. We as 5 series owners for these years need a recall of new harness with better wiring.even if you buy a new housing it will do the same thing in 4 years guaranteed. You would have to find some one to rewire it with the same cables Ford uses so it can last 20+ years. Please fix.

- Sunny Isles, FL, USA

problem #42

Aug 082016


  • 124,000 miles
My 2008 BMW 535I headlight went out and I took it to a certified mechanic to change the headlight bulb, he took out the headlight and shown to me the wiring in both headlights have flaked off and had presented a fire hazard situation which caused the fuse the blew. I researched the BMW forums and found lots of people with the same issue, hence, it is not an outlier. I contacted BMW usa and they refused to remedy the situation. I was told by them that the vehicle is out of warranty and that the vehicle mileage was past the headlight wiring should not go bad in 8 years and they were rude and told me they will not pay for it. I also learnt that most of these headlight wires in the E60 flaked off within 50K miles and are not discovered until a short or blown bulb. Hella (the manufacturer of the headlight) said it is not their problem since the make the headlights to BMW specifications.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #41

Jul 012011


  • 40,000 miles


Wires inside headlights have insulation crumbling off. Fire risk. So many BMW's have this problem. A clear issue that BMW knows about.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #40

Dec 152015


  • 88,109 miles
I purchased my certified pre-owned 2008 BMW 535xi sports wagon from concord BMW on 09.01.2015 with 81,759 miles on it. On December 15, 2015 I was traveling at freeway speed when the rear air springs fully collapsed. I brought the vehicle to concord BMW's service department that very same day to determine what caused the failure. On December 17, 2015 I received an email repair estimate from BMW concord service advisor joey tiongson for $24,188.17 (I purchased the used vehicle for $17,400).the diagnosis was that clogged sunroof drains allowed water to travel down the framework of the vehicle and flood all the electronic modules. Timing of this incident is such that mid-December 2015 produced the first rainfall in our area due to California drought. My car was not exposed to any significant water prior to these first rains. I believe that this is a manufacture defect and that this vehicle was sold to me with this pre-existing condition of which I was never advised. My research after this incident indicates that other BMW owners have had similar problems but not to this magnitude. BMW has also issued service bulletins advising dealerships of this problem.

- Lafayette, CA, USA

problem #39

Mar 122016


  • 105,000 miles
Vehicle was previously driven the day before drove perfect no problems, the day after the vehicle when you put in drive or reverse it would automatically go back to park on it's own and would not move the vehicle was parked in the drive way as normal. I had vehicle towed to BMW they diagnosed as the mechatronic sleeve needed replacing they charged me 1300 dollars my wife picked the car up and drove 50 miles and the car started doing the same previous behavior I contacted BMW they had me to tow back to their dealership a second time both tows cost me 125 dollars each the car was then diagnosed as needing a 9000 transmission and I was told the previous repair that I paid for would not be credited toward the new transmission I'm outraged. My service advisor is john ard at tom williams BMW in irondale Alabama.

- Gadsden, AL, USA

problem #38

Feb 152016


  • 94,000 miles


Just bought a used 2008 528I (E60) w/94K miles, in otherwise perfect condition. Went to change the angel eyes from drab yellow to lux led's. noticed bare wires on both sides of the bulb connectors, on both sides of the car. Tried to use electrical tape, just made more bare wire. The more I touched the wires, the more insulation flaked off, almost like a powder. I've never seen anything like it. Can't possibly be safe. Definitely a fire hazard. Neighbor brought over a bottle of liquid tape, and I re-coated all the bare wire I could see, making sure each wire was separated so a short would not occur. That is a good temporary fix. Will have to stay on top of this problem, since most, if not all, of the headlight wiring is made with bad, quickly degrading wire insulation. A real disappointment in otherwise good german quality and engineering. I guess the source procurer at the factory saved BMW some big bucks on that wire!! this is definitely a NHTSA safety recall issue. Tort lawyers should have a field day on this one. Photos of this problem are available at: www.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?2132684-headlight-wire-jackets-just-flake-off

- Canyon Lake, TX, USA

problem #37

Dec 162015


  • 88,500 miles
I purchased a 2008 BMW 5 series wagon 9/1/2015 on California had its first rain storm causing catastrophic failure of the entire electrical system of the BMW resulting in a complete loss 12/16/115. The drain lines are a well documented and a BMW service bulletin was issued to dealerships. While driving on the highway, I experienced widespread system failure, tire warnings, transmission failure warnings and the suspension failed and the car dropped about 6 inches. The BMW dealership gave us $24,188.17 repair estimate for all the electrical components and wiring which is more than the value of the car

- Lafayette, CA, USA

problem #36

Oct 012015


  • 139,000 miles
Electrical wiring insulation/sheathing within the headlight unit/housing is showing signs of and or outright deterioration which in turn exposes bare wires within the headlight housing. At this point, the daytime running lamps have been the only effected lights but the wires for the headlights are also noticeably troubled. The issue is not speed, movement or area dependent. For further reference, I will provide a link to an owner's forum detailing other's dilemmas due to this exact issue: www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?T=798640 I look forward to a response.

- Kingsville, TX, USA

problem #35

Jun 232014


  • 59,709 miles
The vehicle overheated due to water pump failure. The vehicle was towed to a BMW dealership and the water pump and thermostat were replaced. Some BMW 5-series water pumps have been recalled.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #34

May 012015

535 6-cyl

  • 62,000 miles


I discovered failures of multiple wires in the tailgate/rear window wiring harnesses. Through research online I have found this is a common problem with this vehicle over several model years - search for BMW E61 tailgate wiring problems. The failures are caused by a poor design where the wires entering the hinge guides (4) for the glass and tailgate are repeatedly flexed at a sharp angle until the insulation, then the copper wire breaks. Safety issues - possible electrical short circuit leading to fires (highest load is for rear defroster); lighting failures (rear high brake light, license plate lamps and others); reduced visibility due to loss of wiper/washer/defroster; rear glass latch opening while underway, possibly resulting in loss of cargo or ingress of exhaust fumes. This is not an easily repaired problem. It would be beyond the capabilities of all but a skilled mechanic with proper tools. I discovered it when the remote lock/unlock using the key fobs failed. As I investigated I found the broken wire, along with several others with broken insulation, some with broken copper strands.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #33

Jul 302012

535 6-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
( I am the original owner this vehicle) while replacing a burnt out headlight, I noticed that the insulation in the sealed headlight was missing. When I checked the opposite side, I found the same thing, the insulation was broken and missing. Being that this is a sealed headlight housing, I am unable to remove and repair the problem. BMW parts stated that the wiring harness is not sold for those lights. One has to purchase a completely new headlight assembly at a average cost of $700+.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #32

Jan 152015

535 6-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
Our 2007 BMW 530xi developed a steering wheel lock malfunction warning. A red steering wheel with a padlock appears on the dash screen with a warning on the computer. The steering wheel locks and unlocks perfectly every time. The car is drivable. The dealer says the steering lock module must be replaced for $600. I found that this is a rampant problem on bmws and that BMW corporation is aware of the problem. There should be a recall for this problem.

- Chico, CA, USA

problem #31

Oct 132014

535 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
My 2008 BMW 535I is suffering from the same passenger restraint system malfunction error as the earlier BMW models. NHTSA information I've read indicates that the passenger airbag will not deploy in the event of a substantial front end collision, which poses a significant risk to passengers. BMW only recalled model years 2004 - 2006, however. This is not an isolated incident to those years. My 2008 BMW 535I throws the error every time I drive with or without a passenger. Both the passenger side seat belt light and the passenger side airbag light remain illuminated any time the key is in the ignition. What is being done about more recent BMW models?

- Cedar Hill, MO, USA

problem #30

Oct 142014

535 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
All 6 fuel injectors failed. Car lost power while driving on 3 separate occasions.

- Fanwood, NJ, USA

problem #29

Apr 032013


  • 93,003 miles
The insulation of the wiring inside the headlight assembly is crumbling and poses a fire hazard as the wires have lost their insulation and can get in contact with each other.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #28

Jul 082014

535 6-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
New battery install caused power surge damaging electrical system.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #27

May 142013

535 8-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
On or about May 2013 I was traveling at 60mph on the freeway when suddenly I heard a loud bang sound and my vehicle came to an automatic stop. Scared as vehicle behind me screeched and turn away avoiding me. I remained in the middle of the road for approximately 30 minutes before the vehicle restarted and I traveled fearfully to complete my assignment. Same day on my return home vehicle stopped about 3 times but I drove straight to dealership. Without inspecting my vehicle I was told my alternator and battery was gone. I was quoted very high amount but something told me a bad alternator and battery would not start a vehicle so I offered to take my vehicle home. My vehicle stayed home for about 4 months without use only warm ups reverse and park. I did extensive research to avoid the frivolous amount the dealers quoted and found that the integrated module (ivm) was bad. I got it for $144 and replaced it and problem was fixed after 4 months. Until April 2014 I drove the out to work and barely two miles away from home I stopped at a traffic light and when released the vehicle sounded a huge banged sound this with transmission malfunction light active brake lights and several other lights on dash board. Once again I survived being ran over in the early morning rush. Took vehicle to BMW dealership. Told gear shifter was bad and replaced for $915 and thereafter I received a call the transmission was out. I was advised cost will be $15000 then later that it cannot be fixed and advice to sale it as is to some guy. I owe $17900 on vehicle. Called BMW North America to complain was told new transmission cost $9200 and I'm asked to pay $7400 best deal. There's no reason for transmission on 2008 to go out. Since dealers took my car they gave me a rental for 4 days and took it from me but kept my vehicle for additional 2 weeks and are still holding it calling to accept deal.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #26

Jun 242014

535 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Driving a 2008 BMW 535I at highway speed, approximately 50 mph, when, with no warning, large red warning light appears, "engine overheated - turn off engine." Light came on suddenly and engine died to 5 mph and then stopped running. Barely able to get to the side of the road and in great danger from trucks bearing down on a mountainous curving California highway. Discovered the problem was an immediate failure of the electric water pump which causes sudden engine loss placing the driver in grave danger. This problem has been reported by many drivers to BMW (see online forums) and they know this is a serious problem but have not issued recall notices on the electric water pumps on their vehicles. They previously issued recalls on the high pressure fuel pumps but this also requires a recall as the car abruptly dies at highway speed.

- Aptos, CA, USA

problem #25

Mar 192014


  • 67,000 miles
Pressing the shift (transmission) selector into the reverse position, causes the shifters electrical ribbon cable to get pinched and the lights in the shifter and sport button fail to work anymore. Repositioning of this ribbon cable or using a different insulation method would solve this problem.

- Fairview, OR, USA

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