really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,033 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.

2002 BMW 540 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 BMW 540 Owner Comments

problem #6

Dec 092016


  • 166,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 BMW 540I. The contact stated that it took ten attempts to start the vehicle. The failure occurred at least thirty times. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 166,000.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #5

Dec 102013


  • 151,345 miles
After starting up my car, there was a slight whine under the hood. I gave the car a little bit of throttle to see if the whine went away and heard a loud bang. The car was still running but my battery light was on. I needed to get home, and I thought that my car may not start again if I turned it off so I drove home. Immediately I noticed that I didn't have any power steering. As I drove my engine temperature got higher and I barely made it home without overheating. A few days later I looked in the engine compartment and saw that the power steering pump had broken free of the engine - the bracket had sheared off. That in turn caused the belt to fall off which was turning the water pump and alternator. I got on the computer and looked up the problem and found a lot of people experiencing the same problem, some driving during the incident. This is a real defective design and causes me to be concerned about the safety. I hope nothing tragic has to happen to someone for this to be considered a recall.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #4

Sep 302012


  • 76,854 miles
I was driving in stop and go traffic when I noticed the steering felt a little stiffer than usual. After about 5 miles and better flowing traffic I pulled into a restaurant for dinner when my upper radiator hose exploded. I pulled into a stall and opened the hood to inspect what happened. The hose was very apparent and after further investigation I noticed the power steering pumps pulley at a very sharp angle compared to linear with the serpentine belt. I can only assume that from the bracket on the pump breaking, it caused a chain reaction of events. First the bracket brocket putting the pump at a steep angle N forcing the belt to go off track which then caused all the other accessories to be disabled including the water pump which overheated the car.

- Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #3

Jul 192012

540 8-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


I went out to my BMW 540I and found the driver's power seat all the way back in the horizontal position. I did not leave it this way, so this was confusing to me. When I attempted to move it back upright into a comfortable driving position, it did not respond- the seat was dead. I could not move it manually, either. I was forced to drive the car a short distance to drop my son off at an activity, so I decided to drive it and lean forward while driving. My plan was to take the car to my local BMW mechanic later that night and drop it off to be repaired. My son and I were only two minutes into our drive, I was leaning forward, and he said "do you smell smoke?" I did smell it, and was looking around to see what was wrong. Then my son said "dad, your seat is on fire!" I looked down, and saw flames coming out from under my seat. We pulled the car over and put out the fire with his water bottle. The heated seats were not being used, this happened on July 19th, during the summer. My local BMW shop is telling me this is a $3100 repair. The part in question that caused the fire, per the claims adjuster, is the "general module." I understand the car is 10 years old, but it simply blows my mind that a car can randomly catch on fire internally like this. BMW North America is not taking ownership to this situation, and has offered no help.

- Lutherville, MD, USA

problem #2

Jun 012011

540 8-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Multiple instances of no start. Every time the car was towed to a BMW specialist who over and over again diagnosed completely drained battery, but charging system was ok. I have just found out that BMW has been recalling 2003-2010 models with the exact same defect.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #1

Oct 172009

540 8-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
Apparent computer malfunction caused windows to fog up, clock to fail, directional signals to fail and the engine to refuse to restart. Also, the dash display and brake lights remained on even with the ignition key removed. Disconnecting the battery, waiting about one hour, reconnecting the battery restored normal operation.

- Harrisonburg, VA, USA

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