really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
73,390 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.

2005 BMW X3 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2005 BMW X3 Owner Comments

problem #15

Feb 022016


  • 183 miles


Both seats. Purchased this vehicle with 183K miles. Was getting cold out, turned on the heated seat function and noticed a burning smell upon driving down the country roads from my house. The side of the drivers seat melted through. Could see it glowing inside of the seat. Someone had done a seat repair previously to cover this issue. Approx. 1 year later I was driving down the highway when my passenger had turned on his heated seat. He started yelling and noticed the seat had burned through the leather. Luckily no accidents were caused.

- Rogersville, MO, USA

problem #14

Oct 282015


  • 30 miles
Air bags started blinking last week and now it just stays on. BMW website states my car is not cover in recent takata air bags recall. Also, yesterday when I was driving in rain car's windshield wipers started getting jerky, sticky and not working properly creating a dangerous driving. The cabin lights also started to go on & off during my drive home... when I reach home the radio stayed on when the car ignition was off and only turned off when I turn-off the radio. Check fuse and air bag wiring but so signs of loose wires and bad fuse. Cause of problems unknown. Problems remains unchanged today.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #13

Feb 012012


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 BMW X3. The contact stated that the driver and passenger side heated seat function overheated. In addition, the air bag warning light remained illuminated and the key became difficult to release from the ignition. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the wiring needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Rosedale, MD, USA

problem #12

Dec 012014

X3 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles


The driver's seat (bottom) contains a heating element. When on, even on the lowest setting, a hot spot develops near the left rear side that is so hot I have to shut off the heater out of fear of a fire.

- Peabody, MA, USA

problem #11

Jan 202015

X3 6-cyl

  • 183,700 miles
Was driving with seat heater on. The seat felt very hot on my legs at it smelled like something was burning. I immediately turned off the seat heater. I pulled into a parking lot and exited the car. I noticed a burn mark on the drivers side seat. There is a matching burn mark on the wool coat I was wearing. The coat is what prevented me from being injured. I have pictures of the damage if you need it.

- Columbus, IN, USA

problem #10

Nov 032014

X3 6-cyl

  • 152,803 miles
The seat heater in my 2005 BMW X3 caught fire and melted a hole in the seat and burned my left butt cheek while I was driving. My left butt cheek was burned a little but I was otherwise uninjured. I read online that a ton of other people with the same/similar make and model car as me have had the same problem. The dealer said it would cost about $2000 to replace the entire seat. There is clearly a major flaw in the seat heater and it could pose a major safety issue should a fire occur and the driver is not able to leave the car right away. BMW should recall and/or pay for the replacement/repair of the seat.

- Burbank, IL, USA

problem #9

Nov 052014


  • 102,500 miles


I'd unlocked my door and when I tried to close it, it wouldn't close like it should. It's like the actuator was stuck & wouldn't close. It does this for a few minutes of me cranking and turning off the ignition. Finally, after I crank it up again, it just closes like nothing ever happened! I was stuck in a pharmacy parking lot for like 15 minutes thinking of how I was going to get home because my door didn't close! very, very inconvenient! I almost had to call a tow truck & would've been out of a couple hundred of dollars for this!!! why does this happen!!!?! this needs to be addressed and fixed!

- Dudley, NC, USA

problem #8

Sep 152010

X3 6-cyl

  • 33,900 miles
I believe the steering angle sensor (aka szl) in my 2005 BMW X3 is faulty and thus poses a serious safety risk given its role in providing inputs to the dynamic stability control (dsc) system. It certainly warrants investigation. My vehicle has gone into an uncontrolled skid on three occasions, each time while traveling downhill at moderate speeds on curves. (only once did it do so following a light rain; on all other occasions the pavement was dry.) luckily, no accidents or injuries ensued. I first noticed the problem the year I purchased the vehicle used in 2010; the previous owner likewise had noticed the issue and informed me of it at the time I purchased the vehicle. Today, Sept. 15, 2014, my local BMW dealer proposed replacing the steering angle sensor (szl) in our vehicle, saying a readout of the fault codes detected faults in the sensor. I have elected to replace the sensor at a cost of $1098. Based on the seriousness of the issue, which some cursory investigating on my part appears to be a problem shared by multiple owners of similar model/year vehicles, I urge the NHTSA to investigate. Thank you.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #7

Dec 012012

X3 6-cyl

  • 73,863 miles
Front passenger side air bag is turned off (light notification), when no one is in passenger seat and no items are on seat the warning light goes on and buzzer will not stop, as if some weight is on seat. BMW has issued recall for this problem (76536 & 72651), but not for this VIN. This is a severe safety issue since airbag is turned off by car and can not be turned on by driver or passenger. Also, have to have seat belt activated all the time. Have noticed that several people have made this same complaint online and BMW has not corrected issue.

- Rocklin, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 142013


  • 100,000 miles
I was driving the vehicle and turned on the driver side heated seat. I turned it on to the first setting which is the highest. After about 2 minutes I started to smell something burning. Then I also felt my leg burning. The heated seat had heated up so much that it melted a small hole in the leather where my left outside thigh would touch the seat. I am unable to use the heated seat anymore because I am afraid of getting burned worse.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #5

Dec 052011

X3 6-cyl

  • 83,869 miles


Seat warmer caught on fire! while parked in the driveway with the engine running, I turned on both manufacturer-installed front seat warmers (outside temp. 36 degrees farenheit) for my son and I. I felt a pinching on upper left thigh / buttock. Thought it was a bug. Shifted in the seat, and felt it again, more painful this time. Lifted myself from the seat a bit to look at the seat and see what was poking or pinching me, saw smoke coming out of a new hole on the left side of the seat. Looked through the hole, and saw flames and smelled burning. Immediately, turned off the seat warmer, got out of the vehicle, reached over and turned off the vehicle. The seat smoldered for another couple of minutes. Called my spouse to check if it was still smoldering, but it had stopped. Took the vehicle to the dealer to get it checked out.

- New Market, MD, USA

problem #4

Nov 192011

X3 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
Heated drivers seat burned through leather and scorched drivers pants.

- Colora, MD, USA

problem #3

Dec 052010


  • 37,000 miles
Heated seat caught fire, burning through thick leather upholstery. 2005 BMW X3, 36,000 miles. Not repaired, out of warranty, BMW only willing to pay for half of replacement, consumer cost 700 dollars.

- Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #2

Nov 022009


  • 51,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 BMW X3. The contact stated the vehicle exhibited an electrical shortage and was taken to the dealer. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure but did advised that the sun roof exhibited a leak and would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure and current mileages were 51,000

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 302010


  • 39,000 miles
I was in a unsafe area so I locked the doors an closed all the windows with my keys inside with me to wait for my husband to return. When he returned a few mintues later I could not open the car to let him in. I was locked inside my car with keys in hand. Power windows would not open, sunroof would not open, door locks would not open. The car would not manually open even when tried on all doors many times using the "2 pull" method. I could drive the car and drove to the dealer where I bought it at. They could not figure out how to unlock the car and they had me crawl to the back hatch to try to use a release but there was none. I had been in the car a few hours aat this point and began to feel panicked. At that point they had to break a window to get me out. The car is still at dealer and I was told they are looking into why and no response is yet as to why the manual unlock would not work when all the electric stopped working. I had paid for a extra warrenty on the car and it is currently covered.

- Irvine, CA, USA

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