really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,179 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 X3 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 BMW X3 Owner Comments

problem #10

Nov 242016


  • 65,000 miles


I took my car in for an oil change and was called back by the auto place and was told that, while they were test driving the vehicle it had a major engine faliure, resulting in them having to tow the car and was told that the timing chain had broken and there was massive damage internally to the engine, valves had been bent due to failure. I have spoken to BMW but have not gotten any relief. It is important to mention that this car only has 65,000 miles on it. This faliure is insane and BMW is not willing to honor anything.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #9

Oct 032016


  • 51,000 miles
While coming to a stop the car jerks violently forward with no warning, while moving slow it does the same, to the point where it now hurts to drive it. I get an error that says transmission malfunction, and without warning the car shifts to a lower gear, I have to stop, then turn the car off, when it is turned back the error goes away, then it reappears once again a day or two later. While driving, the steering wheel does not correct in time, and it slides on turns for a second, then over corrects, I have brought it in to BMW dealership, they have replicated the issue, but do not want to cover it under warranty, this has happened at highway speeds as well which is very scary, I am not sure where to turn at this point, so I hope that the NHTSA does an investigation, as I've seen other users have the same issues, and it just one death away from a recall, thank you.

- Palm Springs, CA, USA

problem #8

Aug 132016


  • 77,000 miles
While driving on a tx state highway on 13aug2016 the BMW X3 35I suddenly started shifting rough and would drop in and out of od without prompting. Almost simultaneously we got a message on the display, drivetrain malfunction, drive moderately.

- Groves, TX, USA

problem #7

Jul 212016


  • 82,000 miles


I feel this vehicle is unsafe due to the configuration of the gearshift which is electronic. I have been driving for 50 years and every car or truck I have owned or driven the shift lever when pushed forward on the center console or up on the column goes into park. In this BMW when you push the shift level all the way forward the vehicle is in reverse not park, a separate button must be pushed to electronically put the vehicle in park.I believe this is a safety hazard to both the driver (who can think the vehicle is in park as I have on several occasions when dropping someone off or in a drive through) and then either the driver or passenger steps out and the vehicle is in reverse not park and could be seriously injured or killed.it is also a hazard to a person or vehicle behind the vehicle that the driver thought was in park. This setup is not intuitive at all and goes against all logic. This vehicle has been owned for a short time and I cannot get used to this setup as I have other vehicles (including a 2004 BMW X3) that have the conventional shift pattern. This shift pattern and shifter is very frustrating and I feel unsafe.

- Greentown, PA, USA

problem #6

Aug 282015


  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 bmx X3. While parked, the check engine warning light illuminated. In addition, a message in the instrument panel indicated that the maximum drive train output was not available. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed, but the cause of the failure was not determined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 52,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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problem #5

Apr 012013


  • 26,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 BMW X3. The contact stated that the vehicle shook violently and the transmission warning light illuminated while traveling various speeds. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer who reprogrammed the computer but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 26,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Ponce, PR, USA

problem #4

Aug 032011


  • 8,000 miles


I pulled my car into my flat garage, placed it in park, turned it off and went into the house. 1 hour later it had rolled out into the yard. It was off and in park. It was towed and evaluated by a BMW "expert" who determined there was nothing wrong. They said the car could not have been left in neutral and could not have been left on and then gone off. They had no explanation for the failure to hold the park position and that it was safe to drive!!! my insurance covered the $3200 damage and car rental. In this regard I made probably 200 phone calls between the insurance, dealer, BMW corporate, etc. It took 9 weeks to resolve and repair.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #3

Apr 262011

X3 6-cyl

  • 500 miles
We leased the above BMW X3drive 35I (shipped on 3.30.2011) from husker auto group, BMW of Lincoln, ne on March 30, 2011 for a 3-year period. In mid April I noticed a very loud noise coming from the engine after I turned the car off. The car had 567 miles on the odometer and was taken back to BMW of Lincoln for repairs on April 26, 2011. We were told the main crankcase seal was causing high pressures and was the problem. Apparently replacing the valve covers would result in it being fixed. Within a week, I noted the exact same noise. The car now had 1391 miles on the odometer was again returned to BMW of Lincoln on May 12, 2011. This time I was told the master seal was broken. BMW of Lincoln removed the transmission and replaced the rear main crankcase seal. On September 4, 2011, we were driving at 25 miles/hour when the dash lit up with a drive transmission alert. Immediately thereafter, we heard an extremely loud sound coming from under the car. It sounded like the car had broken in half and the entire engine had fallen out. The dash then displayed a chassis alert followed by a transmission alert. The car rolled backwards despite being put in park. Baron BMW's service department reports there has been a total disruption of all the driveshaft and the transmission, flanges and ebow valve (?) as well as other significant problems. Some replacement parts have to be ordered from germany. We were told that we were extremely lucky to have been traveling at such a low speed and that if it had occurred at 70mph it could have had fatal consequences.

- Saint Joseph, MO, USA

problem #2

Feb 232011


  • 193 miles
Car veering to the right, increased on sudden stops; happens at various speeds. The prominent and dangerous condition is lag in acceleration. Sent the following E-mail to dealer& BMW along with 3 service reports from dealer attempts to address: "this X3 3.5I with all it is electronic engine/drive train controls is a nightmare. It"S a huge design flaw that is going to kill someone eventually. Yet again, yesterday, I felt unsafe due to the hesitation. The car didn't move for about a second or two when I tried to make a left turn in an intersection and then again when I was on the highway changing lanes. There were cars heading towards me but the initial distance was quite comfortable and safe. With the hesitation of the X3, I was actually in a panic and stepped really hard on the gas pedal to avoid a potential collision. And since then I have been stepping on the gas pedal much harder, guzzling gas, not to mention rough starts off of a full stop. I have seen countless internet threads of people complaining about the same thing with the X3 model, both versions, however equipped. I would strongly suggest someone look at how this car"S software is failing to function and fix this thing. I will report the problem to the appropriate governmental agencies. The veering is still there and eventually I will come to pass the issue with the low tread life run-flats BMW's 2-23-11 visit, dealer aligned vehicle, kept car one day due to factory specs not yet being loaded on new vehicle model; on 7-13-11, dealer noted car left in Transport mode, removed codes from computer software and car drove ok for 4 days; 7-23-11 took it back for same issue as noted above with lag in acceleration becoming dangerous and still veering, this time dealer noted nothing wrong with car after test drive comparison. Gave car back, still have issues which prompted E-mail.

- Plantation, FL, USA

problem #1

Apr 112011


  • 100 miles
The vehicle is hesitating when shifting from first to second gear, causing a lag in acceleration, particularly on hills or when starting out from a stop.

- Summerland, CA, USA

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