really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
64,349 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.

2002 BMW X5 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 BMW X5 Owner Comments

problem #13

Feb 112012


  • 105,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 BMW X5. While driving approximately 45 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled and smoke was emitting from under the hood. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing where the technicians stated that the oil separator was frozen. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 105,000.

- Atkins, IA, USA

problem #12

Jan 052010


  • 98,000 miles
In January of 2010 during a cold weather spell, I started my car and started driving slowly. After about 5 minutes I noticed smoke coming from engine compartment and from exhaust pipes. I stopped the vehicle and had it towed to a certified mechanic. He diagnosed the issue as a failure of the separation valve that caused the increase pressure under the valve cover. Fortunately, I was able to avoid extensive damage and my bill was "only" around $350 (plus towing). I did my research and found that BMW had known about that problem all along and did nothing. There was a tsb issued for Canadian market but no recall was issued. Later models of X5 were equipped with updated valve, it appears that many owners had their engines completely destroyed and the company did nothing to help them. I'm enjoying driving my X5 but believe that the company should have rectified the problem earlier and should have compensated the owners for out-of-pocket expenses for the problem that was well known one.

- Swampscott, MA, USA

problem #11

Jun 172010


  • 80,750 miles
My son was driving my 2002 BMW X5 SUV for approximately 30 minutes (mostly highway) when the "fail safe" light came on. He began to pull into the breakdown lane when the car stalled and "system failure" light came on. When he got out of the car, there were flames shooting out from beneath the engine on the passenger side. He and his fiance quickly ran down the road and the car was fully engulfed in flames with black smoke filling the sky within moments. The car is totaled with all windows melted as well as the entire engine compartment. Both front tires exploded. I have gone online and there are many X5's that have spontaneously caught on fire for no apparent reason.

- Canton, MA, USA

problem #10

Jul 092008


  • 87,905 miles


I was sold a certified pre-owned vehicle with bad control arm bushings, and making noise under hood in engine compartment. I also purchased an extended warranty, that was not honored. The service engine light came on throughout the time of ownership. I took the vehicle back to dealer for repairs several times. The car vibrates when braking, and sometimes has no power. Nothing was done to correct the problem to date.

- Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #9

Dec 242008


  • 83,615 miles
On December 24, 2008, my wife was on her way to the BMW of darien dealership to have the windshield wipers replaced when our BMW X5 stalled in the middle of an intersection with her parents also in the car. She was nearly hit by another vehicle, but made it to the dealership. She spoke with saun, a service rep, and told him about the stalling incident. She scheduled a service appointment for December 30, 2008. We drove the car out of town for the holidays and the service engine light illuminated on December 26, 2008. It went off and we kept the appointment with BMW service department in darien, ct on December 30. They ran a diagnostic test and said we needed to update the computer software and replace the thermostat in the engine. We paid $657 for all suggested repairs and were assured this was why the engine stalled and the service light illuminated. We drove the car less than 6 miles before it stalled and stopped on the highway entrance ramp as three lanes merge on January 1, 2009 with my wife and me in it. BMW of darien was closed and the recording directed us to call BMW roadside assistance. After 45 minutes of unsuccessfully waiting for someone to pick up the phone, my wife hung up, because I had already contacted our insurance company and a tow truck. We sat on the highway for approximately two hours in 18 degree weather until the tow truck arrived. The tow truck took the X5 to the BMW of darien dealership. On January 2, 2009, a service rep, pat, told that the crankcase vent valve was broken due to the cold weather and that this problem is widespread and we were quoted $1,000 to repair it and the spark plugs. As we researched online, we found that this is a common problem across BMW models. Additionally, BMW has redesigned this part and added insulation to fix this design flaw. This seems to be a faulty design and BMW refuses to inform the consumer. Our car stopped twice and put my wife, her parents, and me in harm of bodily injury.

- Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #8

Sep 282008


  • 73,709 miles
The contact owns a 2002 BMW X5. While driving 70 mph, the vehicle stalled and then shut off. The vehicle also misfired. The contact managed to coast the vehicle off the road and it immediately restarted. The dealer could not find any failures. The failure and current mileages were 73,709.

- West Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #7

Jan 032008


  • 86,000 miles


BMW 4.4I X5. Had second of two valve cover leaks due to oil separator blockage. Both happened under cold weather conditions. The original oil separator design was prone to blockage and BMW had redesigned the separator to a "heated part" according to my dealer. In both instances of my car's failure, the valve cover gasket failed under pressure and oil leaked out onto the exhaust manifold. Fortunately there was no fire. BMW dealerships acknowledged the common failure of the oil separator design. Although BMW of North America would not respond to my inquiries. Since my vehicle was not under warranty I paid for all repairs. I have updated the vehicle to the new "heated part" but have not had a full winter on the vehicle to state whether or not the re-design was successful.

- West Peoria, IL, USA

problem #6

Sep 162008


  • 47,000 miles
My 2002 BMW X5's engine suddenly stalled on my wife few hours ago today, 09/16/08, while she was just passing through a stop light around where she work at. The mileage on the car is about 47000 miles. I'd to thank god she was not driving on a highway when it stalled. Now the car with my mechanic for diagnosis. About two months ago, the car's front fan that cools the engine failed to work all of a sudden while I was driving it on a highway with the ac on. I had to pull over on side of the road as the temp gauge went straight into the red zone. I had to get it replaced with a new one. Then, about a month ago, the car's fan motor that distributes the ac/heat into the car stopped working. I'd to had it replaced also with a new one. That's all & thanks.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #5

Feb 172008

X5 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,553 miles
On 2/11/08 cold day vehicle failed to start showing same signs as recalls on 2004 and 2007 models that are recalls. Vehicle sent to shop returned 2 days later while traveling on major expressway vehicle stalls out with out any advance warning as in 2004 and 2007 models sent back to shop vehicles oil and coolant mixing causing total engine failure. BMW's response not a recall for this year but aware of problem.

- Brentwood, NY, USA

problem #4

Feb 082008

(reported on)


  • miles
2002 BMW X5 with oil separator safety issues. Consumer states that the oil separator failed. Consumer was shown that water was mixing with the oil creating a foamy sludge. Luckily the problem did not affect the engine. The consumer also stated the door locks did not work on one of the doors and the window fell inside the door. The window mechanism needed to be replaced. The windshield wiper inserts were replaced.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #3

Jan 232004

X5 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,500 miles


My wife was driving her X5 on a very cold day in January. She heard a loud bang as if she had hit something. She stopped the car but saw nothing so she drove another 1/4 mile home. As soon as she stopped the car fumes started billowing from the engine. On opening the hood we found a shattered valve cover. She took the vehicle to the dealer who was very good about explaining what had happened and fixing the problem. Apparently, BMW decided not to insulate part of the oil separator valve for some of the X5 engines. In cold weather the valve can stick open or closed causing either engine failure or, as in my wife's case, a high crankcase pressure which explodes the valve cover. The vehicle was about 17 months old and had about 5 thousand miles on it when this happened, so the repair with replacement of the inadequate part was done under warranty. BMW knew that this problem could occur, they had already sent a bulletin to every dealer letting them know about it but have decided against issuing a recall.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #2

Feb 082004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When driving in cold weather vehicle leaked oil into the engine. In cold weather the oil separator cracked and caused oil to leak. The consumer heard that the new part is the same as the old part except the new part has a foam insulator. The manufacturer is only repairing vehicle's that are still under warranty.

- Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #1

Oct 212003


  • 25,500 miles
Intermittently while making right turns dashboard lights came on, vehicle stalled. After a few seconds, vehicle restarted as if nothing ever happened. This occurred four times in the last three months.

- Miami, FL, USA

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