really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,167 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.

2011 BMW 550 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2011 BMW 550 Owner Comments

problem #12

May 202016


  • 40,000 miles


While driving for 15 minutes with seat warmers on my husband (driver) turned it off. We were travelling on Suburban roads around 40 mph. Then at a stop light he noticed a burning smell. We continued driving when light turned green. Then I noticed the smell a few seconds later, so I opened a window expecting to find smell a fire nearby or hear sirens. At that point we saw a ploom of smoke come from under his seat towards the passenger side open window. He immediately pulled over, jumped out of the car and turned everything off. The smoke took some time to clear but did stop. Several minutes later we drove 1 mile to the BMW dealership. We were told its not under warranty, and would cost $1,700 to fix. I declined to pay $1,700 to fix and requested they disconnect seat heater. BMW personnel informed me it could not disconnect power to seat heater without disconnecting the entire ac/heat system. This is a personal safety issue, not a warranty issue. For a seat heater to cause smoke it caused a fire and this is a defect. The car will catch on fire if the seat warmer is activated. I asked dealership what if I loan my car to someone who does not know about the defect, they suggested putting tape over the button. This is not acceptable safety measure to prevent burns, fire, or even death. Consider for a moment people have small children that ride in this vehicle. On a cold morning I could have buckled kids in, turned on car, seat heater, and talk to a neighbor for 2 minutes, or teacher at the carpool line.... what would have happened to the children? there is no visible damage to vehicle but BMW personnel did agree there was smoke smell in vehicle caused by seat warmer.

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #11

Dec 032015


  • 67,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 BMW 550I. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle would not shift back into park. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and was diagnosed that the wiring that connected to the fuse box and battery was not properly attached to the trunk floor panel, which caused the fuse box and battery to melt. The carpet in the trunk was scorched and needed to be replaced. The contact stated that the failure mirrored NHTSA campaign number: 12V126000 (electrical system). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 67,000.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #10

Sep 242015


  • 49,500 miles
The contact owns a 2011 BMW 550I. While driving 35 mph, the drive train malfunction warning message illuminated. The contact also stated that when depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle shook violently, the check engine warning light illuminated, and the vehicle stalled along with the drive train warning light. The vehicle was towed to the dealer but was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure recurred several times. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 49,500.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #9

May 222015


  • 53,000 miles


I am currently having problems with my vehicle and the local authorized dealer/service center, I believe they have been negligent with their actions to multiple problems that have occurred, including the repair and inspection pertaining to a recall of the N63 engine vehicles. The vehicle has had multiple issues in the past, including several "drivetrain malfunctions" for which I believe have the dates and service records they relate fuel injectors, battery, pumps, ect.. since January 2015 I have contacted the service center, autogermana BMW of puerto rico, to request an inspection and repair of the vehicle due to recurrent issues and concerns, the representative initially told me that the dealer had received no information about the "recall" or service bulletin "B001314". in March the vehicle was serviced again and the "recall" was included in the service order but they alleged that they did't have the parts available and that they would contact me as soon as they became available. The representative even recommended against extending the vehicle warranty for repairs until the vehicle was repaired and/or inspected as it related to the recall. The vehicle is now past the 50K mile warranty and the issues have not been resolved, and again it is at their service center because of a new "drivetrain malfunction". the service representative called me and told me that they would again inspect the vehicle to determine if the malfunction had any relation to the previous issues and /or the recall, if it has no relation they would have to be repaired without the warranty coverage. I believe this to be systematic negligence or quite possibly intentional irresponsibility. At this point legal action is the next logical step. I appeal to the NHTSA for responsible assistance with these service issues and a resolution of the problems.

- Caguas, PR, USA

problem #8

Sep 242014

550 8-cyl

  • 31,668 miles
Have to add oil every 500 miles, and I did notice there's a recall on the car but BMW does not want to call it a recall.I think it may effect car 5 years from now, timing chain is not always good news. I think BMW should offer extended warranty.

- Chino Hills, CA, USA

problem #7

Nov 252014

550 6-cyl

  • 50,400 miles
Involved in an accident. Other vehicle going southbound crossed over median strip of highway, hit three cars going northbound, mine was third car to be struck. Offending car did a 360 in front of me, I slowed to about 25 and he moved into me. I struck his rear passenger side corner. I had front end damage over $5K. No airbag, but default messages and an airbag icon came on the video screen and the front instrument panel. It states "driver and passenger airbag or restraint system malfunction."

- Mount Laurel, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jun 212014


  • 55,000 miles


I bought the car on May 6, 2015 with about 53K miles on it. Drove it for only about 45 days and while driving the car the drivetrain malfunction and other lights came on and the car lost power and stopped immediately. At first, I thought it was the battery and had the car jumped but that didn't work. The care engine was totally dead, no sound no anything other than the engine light that popped on before it stopped. I had purchased an extended warranty from gwc at the purchase of the car so informed them. I had the car towed to a place (lmc auto in norcross Georgia) that gwc was willing to pay for repairs. Lmc said the engine was locked and needed to be replaced. Gwc refused to replace the engine because of the expense and instead had lmc auto repair the engine. Needless to say, lmc is still repairing the engine almost 5months later. I had called governor's office of consumer protection, [xxx], etc.. trying to get help with getting the car fixed. When I talked to BMW of North America they said they warranty is up at 50K miles so they cannot commit to do anything. I am at my wits end and the car still does not seem to be any closer to getting fixed. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #5

Apr 302014

550 8-cyl

  • 24,000 miles
I was driving on a residential street and shifted into 3rd gear. The car began to buck violently. I pushed in the clutch to stop the bucking. I was approaching an intersection. I attempted to accelerate and the gas pedal was non-responsive. The vehicle then indicated that it had a drivetrain malfunction. I was able to pull over, turn the car off and back on and drive 0.5 miles to my destination. While parked, the parking brake also malfunctioned and I was unable to turn it off. The car was towed to the dealership. There is a significant design deficiency with this vehicle. The problem with my car had to do with a broken plastic part on the water channel that leads around the trunk. The plastic cover is supposed to snap into a grommet that is in a hole, thus sealing the hole from water. In my situation, the grommet was missing. Given the design of the plastic part, there is no way to know that there is an issue without removing the plastic part. The hole that the plastic piece snaps into leads directly into the trunk. In the bottom of the trunk are sensitive electronic modules that control the fuel management system and the parking brake. There is no drain in the trunk that would allow water to leave the vehicle. My vehicle was parked in a parking lot during a rain storm. As a result of the design, I got water in the trunk, which ruined these two modules, resulting in the vehicle becoming disabled while driving. I believe that this is a significant safety issue for the following reasons: I) as a consumer, I had no idea that the electronics that enable the vehicle to manage fuel were located in the trunk; II) the design of the water channel around the trunk seems inadequate given that any failure of the plastic shield / grommet combination would lead to water in the trunk and expose these critical components.

- Summit, NJ, USA

problem #4

Feb 242014

550 8-cyl

  • 43,200 miles
My 2011 BMW 550igt driven for 43200 miles was parked in my driveway with ignition turned off (for at least 45 minutes). Noticed smoke coming out from the trunk, where the battery is located.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #3

Oct 172013

550 8-cyl

  • 29,230 miles
I have prepared a pdf document that I would like to submit as well. I can supply it at any time. Here is the short version. 10/17/13: I have the family come with me for a ride and then the vehicle begins to malfunctions and the check engine light comes back on. The vehicle is struggling to even drive at this point and I am on the freeway trying to make it to an exit. The hesitation becomes worse and worse I start to fear that I may become stranded on a busy roadway. I make it off the exit and home. 10/18/13: (D/O vehicle mileage: 29,375) I take the vehicle to concord BMW for inspection; [xxx] is the service consultant at BMW of concord. 10/19/13: (P/U vehicle mileage: 29,379) [xxx] telephones me to inform me that it was a quick fix and the vehicle was ready to be picked up. I come to sign for the vehicle and release the rental. Not even 10 minutes after I am in possession of the vehicle it malfunctions identically again. I call back to tell them I am dropping it off, once again. Returned the vehicle with (D/O 29,392 miles) 10/20/13: Continued... 10/21/13: Continued... 10/22/13: Continued... 10/23/13: Continued... 10/24/13: Continued.... 10/25/13: Continued... 10/26/13: Continued... 10/27/13: Continued... 10/28/13: Continued... 10/29/13: Continued... 10/30/13: Continued... 10/31/13: Continued... information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Clayton, CA, USA

problem #2

Apr 242012


  • 3,000 miles
Just parked the vehicle, turned off the vehicle and smelled something burning. Exited the vehicle, observed smoke from under the hood, opened the hood and observed flames from the left side of the engine, mostly on the top left of the engine now. Called the fire department who extinguished the flames, and had the car towed to the dealer. The vehicle is now in their lot waiting for their investigators to look at the vehicle. The first comment out of the dealership, maybe an animal built a nest in the engine area. This vehicle only had 3000 miles on it, purchased in June of 2011, and is garage kept.

- Hoffman Estates, IL, USA

problem #1

Aug 192010


  • 6 miles
I purchased 2011 model BMW 535I in August 2010. There are 3 cigarette lighter power outlets inside the car and electricity is supplying all the time regardless of whether vehicle is being locked or not. If I use accessories like gps, charger, coffer warmer etc. And left in the locked vehicle under summer sun could really be a fire hazard. I have contacted to BMW customer relations and local service asking to rewire to stop power supply while engine is stopped or/and vehicle is locked but they refused to fix the problem. I have another complaint regarding the steering like other owners which is that vehicle is pulling to the right all the time at all speed. I'd like to request NHTSA to order BMW to fix those problems asap as a recall!

- Macomb, IL, USA

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