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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,100 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.

2003 BMW 745 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 BMW 745 Owner Comments

problem #10

Oct 012016


  • 181,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 745li. After placing the vehicle in park, the contact noticed that the gear shifted independently into neutral. The contact called BMW of sterling located in sterling, Virginia and was informed that he had to pay for a diagnostic test. The vehicle was not repaired. In addition, the passenger air bag malfunction warning indicator illuminated continuously. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The approximate failure mileage was 181,000.

- Charles Town, WV, USA

problem #9

Mar 112014


  • miles
My car is having severe transmission problems that were recalled on other cars of the same year, make and model. Also the park lights won't work most of the time. The traction control as well as the antilock brakes go in and out. The stability control on the feont passenger side goes out. It happens while driving.

- Norcross, GA, USA

problem #8

Aug 012015


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 745I. After starting the engine, the "engine fail safe transmission" message displayed and the shifter would not switch out of the park position. While operating the vehicle, the "failed transmission drive moderate" message displayed and the speed would suddenly reduce. The vehicle also jerked and erroneously accelerate on occasion during gear changes. The cause of the failures were not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 202014

745 8-cyl

  • 153,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW 745I. The contact stated that after exiting the vehicle, the vehicle rolled away. As a result, the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries reported. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign number: 12V502000 (electrical system, power train). The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 153,000. Updated 02/09/15 the consumer no longer owns the vehicle. Updated 10/7/2015

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #6

Oct 012007


  • 40,000 miles
This vehicle has a defective transmission, BMW is aware of this but is banking on not enough complaints. When the car comes to a complete stop it pushes car to front as if being rear ended, but its the defective transmission guibo joint or and a software issue that BMW had installed in thousands of BMW vehicles at the time. There are many frustrated owners that have paid thousands of dollars for this car. It is unsafe cause it pushes car to front causing a possible hit to front car in a traffic situation. Here is more about this service bulletin, I feel BMW should fix this at no charge since this is a safety hazard. Read A/T - harsh 3-2/2-1 downshifts/clunk noise, si B 24 17 07, automatic transmission December 2007, technical service this service information bulletin supersedes si B24 17 07 dated July 2007. Designates changes to this revision warranty information covered under the terms of the BMW new vehicle limited warranty. Please refer to the latest ksd for all applicable labor operations and allowances. If the appropriate labor operation is not contained in ksd, then a work time labor operation should be used. Defect code 24 00 39 61 00.

- Houston, TX, USA

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problem #5

Nov 172012


  • 171,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 745li. The contact stated that the air bag indicator light illuminated. In addition, the seat belts failed simultaneously. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection or repairs. The vehicle also could not be shifted from park. The contact had to leave the vehicle engaged in neutral in order to remove the key from the ignition and apply the emergency brake. The failure and the current mileage was 171,000.

- Tallahasse , FL, USA

problem #4

Mar 122012


  • 143,000 miles


Terrible transmission in this car!!!while driving, this car jumps into gear. Feels like someone hit me from behind whenever I stop. It also started leaking transmission fluid. After researching this car, I have found out the 745li models are known for transmission problems, and leaks. This car should have a recall on it, because apparently BMW knows this, and has done nothing about it. They should make consumers aware they have ongoing problems with the transmissions. I went to drop car off for repair, and there were 4 other 745li's needing same repair. BMW should be made to recall these cars, and pay to have them repaired, or reimburse us if we already had this fixed.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #3

Nov 162011

745 8-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW 745I. The contact stated that when the vehicle was shifted into park, the vehicle would independently shift into drive. The failure caused the vehicle to roll away and crash into a porch. The front bumper was damaged. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the failure could not be duplicated and no assistance was offered to the contact. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 40,000 and the current mileage was 42,000. Updated 05/11/12

- Flat Rock , MI, USA

problem #2

Jan 312008

745 8-cyl

  • miles
I purchased a 2003 745li November 2007 when coming to a stop there is a clunking noise with harsh downshift. Took car dealership on several occasions with concern and after several failed attempts to remedy the issue was finally made aware that there was service bulletin concerning transmission issue. Dealer stated that it was possibly from transmission and advised me to come back for repairs. In November 2008 was the first time that I had to get the transmission replaced because of the clunking with harsh downshift. This issue returned and progressed and the transmission was replaced for the second time due to same issue 08-2009. After second transmission installed issue still existed and was advised that there was a software issue with transmission and that there was not any other updates at this time and the information would be forwarded for BMW for analysis. The universal /guibo has been replaced 3-4 times since I've had the car because of clunking noise harsh downshifting. As time went on around May 2011 there was an incident where as I was driving, approaching and coming to a stop at a stop sign, in addition to the harsh clunking the car jerked and accelerated forward almost into ongoing traffic. Took it back to the dealership, they mentioned the service bulletin again concerning the issue stated that the transmission might need to be replaced. They first replaced the universal/guibo, which I had to pay out of pocket and the issue still exists. The incident that happened in May 2011 happened again for the second time in Nov. 2011. I believe that there are some major issues with transmission and electrical system. Since then I've been having, brake/drive malfunction among other issues. I consider this to be safety concern. This issue should be thoroughly investigated.

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #1

Dec 142010


  • 63,000 miles
After stopping my 2003 745li BMW on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, (car was in park), I put gear selector into drive and vehicle started going into reverse causing me to almost hit vehicle behind me in the school zone. I turned off vehicle and started again thinking it was just a computer glitch, the car again proceeded to go backwards while in park and drive. After restarting vehicle the third time, the drive function finally worked. The following day I was able to drive the vehicle to a BMW service center. At the center the vehicle again started to act up and multiple transmission warnings and messages displayed. The vehicle only has approximately 63,000 miles. I feel that owners of the 2002 and 2003 745li should be informed of this safety issue as I have located several incidences on the internet of this same issue. My wife and I don't feel comfortable driving the family in our car that can cause an accident and possibly even kill someone. The dealership told me that they have seen this problem before and that there is an internal seal in the transmission which is probably leaking causing this issue. Hopefully this repair will take care of the problem.

- Skokie, IL, USA

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