really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 6
Injuries / Deaths:
9 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,900 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.

2004 BMW X3 accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 BMW X3 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Nov 232018


  • 78,000 miles


Driver's side seat warmer burned skin and scorched leather seat cover when turned on.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #26

Jan 232018


  • 5 miles
Seat heater on drivers side is burning through. If left on it would burn through clothes and burn skin.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #25

Apr 282017


  • 116,491 miles
Driver's seat heating unit overheats when on high setting, to the point of burning skin through the seat and clothing. Lower left lumbar and seat bottom appear to be impacted. Per service shop, the seat heater grid is broken, causing 40 degree higher temperatures than normal in the left leg area. Ongoing issue, not a single occurrence.

- West Linn, OR, USA

problem #24

Dec 162016

X3 6-cyl

  • 5 miles


Driver's side seat burned through the seat and burned the jacket when the seat heater was turned on while my wife was driving. This is the second time it happened in this car. First time it happened while the car was under warranty, and the dealership (silver spring BMW of md) replaced the seat under warranty. In this case got lucky it did not catch fire or cause any injury to us. This situation easily could have ended up in a car fire. I was stunned to hear how lithely BMW na approach towards my concern when I called to lodge a complaint. At highway speed this could have been a fatal situation due to distraction this burn created worst car on fire.

- Clarksburg, MD, USA

problem #23

Jan 292016


  • 86,003 miles
I turned on my seat heaters to the lowest setting (1out of 3) just as I left work. After about 20 seconds as I drove down the road, I felt a sharp burning through my wool jacket in my left thigh/butt area. I turned it off immediately. When I got home and looked at the seat, it had left a burn area in the leather. After looking at different websites and forums online, it seems to be a very common problem with this model. However, based on owner's comments, the dealers aren't taking responsibility.

- Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #22

Feb 122015


  • 156,000 miles
While I drive my car, I turned on my seat heat, I start feeling burning pain while am driving on highway, the second time when I finished my work and I start my car to head home, I start smelling burning and my leg was burning so bad, I got out of the car, and my seat leather was burning, I saw hole in my seat and the wires inside was burned and smelled terrible, that is safety issue, if it happened while I was driving on highway, I would get in an accident

- Spring Valley , NY, USA

problem #21

Feb 222015

X3 6-cyl

  • 144,870 miles


For some time we had to keep the driver side seat heater no higher than "1". at level 2 & 3 it burned you or felt like you were being stuck with something. On the date in question, I drove about 2 miles, went into a store, came back out, started the car, turned the heater on again (level 2 for about 2 seconds then back to level 1. I smelled a strong burning odor, then a smell almost like cigar smoke. Then immediately turned off the heater. The smell subsided within 3-4 minutes. However, it left a black burn mark on the leather seat about the size of a pencil eraser. Obviously, continued use will cause a full out fire rather than just burning the leather.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #20

Jan 262015

X3 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
Driver side seat warmer was set on the medium setting, smelled something burning and then started to feel pain in my leg, because the heated seats had melted the leather and burned my pants and my leg.

- Greendale , WI, USA

problem #19

Feb 102015

X3 6-cyl

  • 212,000 miles
The driver's side seat heater overheated causing discomfort to the driver's leg. Turning off the heater stopped the overheating. There was no apparent damage to the seat.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #18

Mar 012013


  • 72,440 miles
March 2013 -driver side heated seat became extremely hot. Now, December 2014, driver side heated seat become too hot to keep on and a burning smell is very noticeable.

- Nesconset, NY, USA

problem #17

Dec 252012

X3 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


Driving on freeway and driver's side seat heater overheated burning seat and creating abundant smoke inside car's cabin. This was a very dangerous situation on the freeway and I have no doubt that the seat would have caught fire if I hadn't felt the burning sensation early enough. Dealer stated that they had never heard of this happening and quoted $1200+ repair. Researched online and found many similar occurrences. Decided not to repair and chance the same happening again. Disconnected wiring to seat heater.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #16

Jan 262014

X3 6-cyl

  • 148,000 miles
Approximately 1 year ago I purchased for my daughter a 2004 used BMW X3 2.5I. The car has run fine so far but in the evening of the 26th of January 2014 something very dangerous happened with the front driver seat heating system. She was driving and she notice a smell of burnt material inside the car, and looked down to see that the seat heater had burned through the left bottom side and had singed her pants. She of course was very scared and all most went out of the road for this! there is burnt a hole in the front driver seat and for the moment I pulled the fuses of the seat heating system (fuses was still ok and did not shut the system off!!). I have been calling BMW North America for more than a month, they sent me to a BMW local dealer where they inspect and made picture of the seat. BMW N.a. ([xxx]) finally told me that they would pay only 50% of the repair cost ($800 my part) and the offer is valid only for 20 days after this the offer would not be valid anymore. I feel that this is a very serious safety problem and saw in internet that this is a common problem for this year/model. I strongly believe that BMW not only should repair the seat for free but should also initiate a proper recall to avoid this very serious driving safety issue. Please help. Thank you best regards information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Rockford, IL, USA

problem #15

Mar 142013

X3 6-cyl

  • 98,621 miles
As I was driving on the freeway with the driver's side heated seat on the low setting, I felt a sudden burning sensation on my back of my upper left thigh and shifted slightly, putting my hand under the area to see what was the matter. The rear area of the left side seat bolster had gotten so hot I had to turn off the seat heater immediately. I decided not to turn it on again until another time in late March when I again turned on the seat heater. The same sudden feeling of "overheating" was immediately felt in the same area, I turned off the seat heater, and I haven't used it since then. When my car was in for service for another issue, I mentioned it to my service advisor and asked whether he knew of other similar incidents or whether there was a BMW recall for the issue. He said no to both questions.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #14

Jun 012010

X3 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Short circuit in heating element for driver's side seat. Shocks occur through leather when heater is active. Turned off heat and discontinued use of heating element to avoid damage/burns. Passenger side heating element is still ok.

- Aloha, OR, USA

problem #13

Feb 212013


  • 145,000 miles
Felt a burning under my leg and smelled burning plastic. Parked the car and my scarf was melted to the seat and smoke was coming from it. Pulled on my scarf to get it off and noticed a hole burnt in the seat from the heated seat element. Parts of the seat were stuck to my scarf and pants. Made sure the seat stopped smoking and wont use the heated seats anymore.

- Cheektowaga, NY, USA

problem #12

Jan 022012

X3 6-cyl

  • miles
Drivers side seat over heats and burns your butt and a hole in the leather as well as clothes. Very dangerous.

- Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #11

Dec 282011


  • 65,000 miles
Drivers side seat warmer overheats and burns seat and causes burns on legs. Do not use seat warmers when driving. Called BMW, claimed this wasn't an issue - was very disappointed in customer service.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #10

Jan 272012

X3 6-cyl

  • 47,598 miles
Driver's seat back heater grid shorted causing damage to the insulation and leather seat cover. It was hot enough to cause physical burns.

- Newport Beach, CA, USA

problem #9

Jan 182012

X3 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The driver side seat heating element is burning through the seat and burning leg.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #8

Mar 032010

X3 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
I have a 2004 BMW that has a serious safety issue. The driver's seat has a seat warmer that burns through the leather and scorches through clothing. This is a danger to anyone driving this vehicle with the seat heater activated. It has caused near misses with other vehicles on the road with both my wife and I driving. Our vehicle is out of warranty and I doubt if the dealership will replace the seat. There are scorch marks on the seat where it overheats as well as burn marks on our clothes. We have stopped using the seat heater on the driver's side to avoid any further incidents. We have called BMW headquarters on many other issues and they refused help with anything concerning this vehicle. The issue list for this vehicle is a long one as you may know. We thank you for any help that you can offer.

- Silver Spring , MD, USA

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