hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,780 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 X5 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 BMW X5 Owner Comments

problem #6

Apr 152015


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 BMW X5. While driving approximately 65 mph, there was the smell of plastic burning and the vehicle would not accelerate. The contact stated that there was smoke coming from the front of the vehicle. The engine stalled without warning. Moments later, the vehicle was engulfed in flames. The fire department extinguished the fire and filed a report. The vehicle was burned down to the frame. The vehicle was destroyed and towed to a body shop. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Tupelo, MS, USA

problem #5

Nov 182014


  • miles
I purchased the vehicle used, I have had it for about 5 months and have had some serious problems (steering column, window regulators, engine, and coolant leakage). I see where these issues seem to be consistent with the vehicle, but am having a hard time getting the recall work done. I can's afford to spend a lot on this car, but I feel like I may have more than I bargained for. My extended warranty is not paying for much !!! help

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #4

Feb 152011

X5 6-cyl

  • 101,680 miles
The temperature was about 5 degrees F. after driving a short distance, there was a large amount of smoke from tailpipes and smoke from engine compartment. Engine oil warning message and ses light illuminated. The engine hesitated and misfired. After stopping, the back of the X5 was covered in oil. The engine compartment was covered in oil and oil coated the exhaust manifold. The X5 had to be towed to the dealer. The dealer indicated the ccv was frozen and it was common in these cars. When the ccv freezes, it can suck the oil from the oil sump through the ccv into the intake manifold. The valve cover gasket usually blows from the increased pressure. If enough oil is sucked in through the intake manifold, it can hydrolock the engine, breaking piston rods, etc or the engine can seize from lack of oil. BMW is aware of this design flaw in these cars when operated in cold climates and is providing some relief for some of the cars that experience this issue. The valve cover gasket was replaced. Oil had to be vacuumed from the spark plug wells. The ccv and associated hoses were replaced with a newer insulated design. The dipstick tube was replaced. The oil filter was replaced. Any oil that may remain is drained and new oil was added. The engine compartment was degreased.

- Mansfield, MA, USA

problem #3

Jan 192010


  • 60,000 miles


Oil separator froze causing high pressure and blown seals. Initial cost about $1100 to repair. Dealer states this "happens all the time" to X5's in cold weather. Temp was in the single digits. In January 2013 oil separator froze two more times;however, this time damaging the engine - cost over $5000 to repair - basically totaling the car. With about 15 minutes of research, this appears to be a common and known issue on BMW X5 3.0, 4.4 and 4.8 engines from 2001 to 2008... looks like the parts were redesigned in 2009. Looks like a simple preventive maintenance routine and insulated oil lines would have prevented the "catastrophic engine failure" and dangerous condition of tailpipe fire, or being stranded in zero degree weather (which seems to be a condition required for the failure). Owner of car is the original owner, with all maintenance being done at local BMW dealerships including major services at 60K and 90K so there appears there is no "preventive maintenance" included in either of these major service milestones for the known oil separator defect. A recall on this defect to install the small amount of parts to prevent "catastrophic engines failure" and dangerous conditions "being stranded in single digit weather" seems like a logical choice... or at least changing major service milestones to add preventive maintenance so the probability of the failure can be reduced.

- Falmouth, ME, USA

problem #2

Aug 302012

X5 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 BMW X5. The contact stated that the front passenger side caught fire while parked in a residential garage. The manufacturer investigated the failure and concluded that cause of the fire was not due a manufacturing defect. A police report was filed of the incident. The contact stated that the battery was replaced twice and the computer system was replaced three times prior to the fire. The vehicle was destroyed. The approximate failure and current mileage was 150,000. Updated 2/15/13 the consumer believed the fire was due to an electrical failure. Updated 02/02/513

- South Kingstown, RI, USA

problem #1

Jun 252012

X5 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
I was driving the vehicle in stop and go traffic, the vehicle lost all power forcing me to come to complete stop in the middle of the highway. This occurred 3 other times in the past 4 months, the other incidents were in the parking lot. The car starts up and runs perfectly before and after. I am concerned about my safety. Searching for a solution, I found that BMW has service bulletin to address this issue. I am surprised that there is no recall on this since it is a huge safety concern.

- Fairview Heights, IL, USA

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