2019 BMW 3 Series Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine, structure and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

As a sports sedan, the 2019 BMW 3 Series offers the chance to experience some excitement for a lower price than other models. Yet, the manufacturer claims it is still “born to be driven.” However, many customers are disappointed in the defective engine, poorly-built structure and malfunctioning steering system, all of which leave people at risk for an accident.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2019 BMW 3 Series

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Exterior Lighting
Power Train
Vehicle Speed Control
Electronic Stability Control

Problems with the Engine

As a performance-focused sedan, the 3 Series needs to be equipped with a powerful, reliable engine, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

One NHTSA complaint states, “When I was driving the car on highway yesterday afternoon about 6 pm in left-most lane, the car’s all LED dashboard completely shutdown (black) and engine stopped. I had to slowly move the car to the road side and tried to restart the engine. The engine started with lots of warning signs.”

It turns out there is a major recall related to the engine in this BMW. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V732000 states that affected models might have needle roller bearings on the counterbalance shaft that weren’t installed correctly. This defect causes the counterbalance shaft to loosen and create severe engine damage. Plus, it will increase the chances of an accident.

So, if a driver gets into an accident, the airbags are meant to protect everyone in the vehicle. However, there are further problems with this safety feature. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V352000 discusses yet another recall for the knee air bags. It seems that affected vehicles have assemblies that weren’t put together or folded correctly at the factory. Because of this defect, the bag might not deploy during an incident, leaving people in more danger. It seems from every angle, this car wasn’t born to drive but rather fail.

Problems with the Structure

As a luxury vehicle, consumers expect a lot from the BMW 3 Series. Yet, the quality of this build has left a lot to be desired.

Just look at this NHTSA complaint. “The chrome trim under the display screen reflects the sun causing a glare that reflects back into the driver’s eyes and also makes the screen above it virtually unreadable on sunny days when driving east, NE or SE. Of course, the position of the sun depends on location, time of day and season. In my case, the glare reflecting off the chrome trim is most prominent when driving east on a sunny day between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm in the Detroit area during summer months.”

At this point, it has become clear that BMW didn’t put a lot of thought into manufacturing the 3 Series. Another example of this is NHTSA Campaign Number 19V912000. Some models have outboard rear seat belt pretensioners that won’t lock as they should during an accident. Among the other problems that could lead to injury, this is just another one to add to the list. Maybe it would be safer if this model wasn’t “born to be driven.” It might be safer just parked in the driveway.

Problems with the Steering

A closer look at the steering system of the BMW 3 Series shows even more trouble. It seems nearly impossible to keep this defective vehicle on the road.

Read this Edmunds review as an example. “On my first drive after taking delivery on this 330i sedan, it veered into opposing traffic and the steering wheel froze. Two stays at the local BMW service center didn’t solve the problem. This vehicle is too dangerous to drive so I returned it to the dealer!”

It should come as no surprise that there is also a steering-related recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V355000 states that the steering gear tie rod could become damaged, leading to altered control and handling. Of course, this is most possible when driving across rough road surfaces and at high temperatures, so a majority of American drivers are at risk.

Additionally, steering while going backward could cause trouble, especially with NHTSA Campaign Number 21V096000. This recall talks about the loss of a rearview image after shifting into Reverse. Either the screen becomes obscured or it won’t illuminate correctly. This further leads to a higher chance of an accident. Is there anywhere that the 3 Series was actually “born to be driven” at? From an overhead view of the entire situation, it would appear that it was born to be junked instead, before it causes a major accident.

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Complaint Data

DateJul 21, 2022
The contact owned a 2019 bmw 330i. The contact stated that while driving approximately 15 mph, smoke was seen coming from under the hood of the vehicle. After stopping and exiting the vehicle, flames were then present coming from under the hood and the fire department was called to the scene. The flames were extinguished. The vehicle was destroyed and towed away. A fire report was taken at the scene. The cause of the failure was not determined. The manufacturer and local dealer were notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 4,500.
DateJan 25, 2021
1st time out car veered into oncoming traffic on a recently paved macadam street. Turn signal was on. Steering wheel locked. Had car towed to local bmw service center. Picked it up a few days later. Same thing happened on my drive home on a concrete roadway. Daytime, clear weather both events. Drove right back to the service center, left the car there and told the dealer to pick it up.
DateAug 06, 2020
One of the four original tires, pirelli cinturato p7 all season 225 /45 r18 95h xl bsw bm rf, had blowout on the internal wall within only 15,000 miles. The tire blew out at rest. No notification of failure on the monitoring system. No damage to the tire rim. Unless it struck a pothole not felt well driving. The is the second tire to do this on the vehicle in the first year of ownership. Seems like the tires fail on their own.
DateJul 13, 2020
The three of the four original tires, pirelli cinturato p7 all season 225 /45 r18 95h xl bsw bm rf, have had blowouts on the internal wall within one month and only 13,000 miles. I noticed there is a recall on the pirelli 19" tires. I believe this has to be a manufacturer defect. There was no trauma that caused the blowouts and they all occurred spontaneously.
CategoryService Brakes
DateMay 12, 2020
Bmw advertises as a safety feature an emergency brake assist system that "warns about the risk of collision and, where appropriate, brings the vehicle to a complete stop before it results in a crash with an obstruction, a person or another vehicle" (https://www. Bmw. Com/en/innovation/the-main-driver-assistance-systems. Html#pwjt-emergency-brake-assist) my wife was driving at about 10-15 mph and there was another car in front. She was distracted by a crying baby and took her eyes off the road and collided with the front car. The bmw system failed to take action to brake to minimize or avoid the collision. This was confirmed when bmw queried the system, that no braking assist was applied in the incident. This "safety" feature was advertised by bmw and we paid a premium for this feature and in fact decided to lease this car based on this false premise/ advertisement. In this instance, the accident occurred during daylight on a city street, with sunny weather, with an object at a standstill in front of my car. *tr
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateJan 30, 2020
Tl* the contact owns a 2019 bmw 330i. The contact stated that while driving in colder weather the front head light beam projected at an angle due to condensation inside the head light assembly causing a visibility hazard to the driver. The failure was not repaired. The local dealer (orland park bmw located at 11030 w. 159th st. Orland park il) and the manufacturer were both notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 3,000.
CategoryEngine, Power Train, Vehicle Speed Control
DateJan 21, 2020
When I was driving the car on high way yesterday afternoon, about 6 pm (jan 20, 2020) in left most lane, the car's all led dashboard completely shutdown (black) and engine stoped. I had to slowly move the car the the road side and tried to restart the engine. The engine started with lots of warning signs.
CategoryElectronic Stability Control
DateOct 18, 2019
Reverse warning 'cross traffic alert' dangerous issue this never worked on my bmw 3 for over a week I was given a loaner car - new 2019 bmw 5. I will describe how the system worked on this loaner. I have videos I took of the camera image in the car. I was told by bmw that what I had in the loaner was exactly the same as the system would be in my own bmw 3, when it was repaired. This function worked as follows on my loaner bmw 5. The design is almost dangerous, unless you fully understand what is going on: a. If one is in reverse the system only picks up cars, in the closest lane, coming from ones right. Cars coming from the left, in the far away lane, are ignored this is dangerous. When one reverses out of a garage or parking space, one usually crosses both lanes on the road, even if turning in the lane closest to you. Often one desires to set off in the other direction, in the lane furthest from you ' the lane in which cars are not detected b. The warning , if a car is detected, is always only a red area in the camera view. An audible warning is only given if one is so close to the passing car that a crash is possible. In other words it never provides an audible warning from the car in motion, but only detects an impending collision, such as one would get if reversing into a wall. This first couple of times the system nearly caused me an accident. I am used to the warning on my wife's subaru ' an audible and visual warning for cars, or even pedestrians, passing behind, in either lane. In my new bmw, I was reversing, saw nothing, got no warning and believed it safe to proceed ' not true - a car was crossing behind me in the far lane. See video https://photos. Google. Com/share/af1qipnw2gk7jearuz2jkmzdt20fpsg9aqgh2ymvkqh6y3tdwhpugqrnc85urn0gxipula/photo/af1qipmkthxczgk3n1b-gyecuufbkxnbak3sx-e-_j-l? Key=ddetmudrugv2wdg2rlnzs0vawknyewxpuxfkz2db
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateOct 18, 2019
Turning off the engine. Dangerous issue when one stops at the end of a trip, one is almost always in forward or reverse gear. In this situation, when one pushes the stop/start button at the end of a trip, the engine turns off and the car goes electronically into park. No need to touch the gear lever at all. However, if the engine is turned off and one is in neutral the car does not automatically shift into park. This almost caused an accident. I was in neutral, pushed the engine off button and started to leave the car, which began to roll down a small hill, as it was not in park. This happened to me twice before I realized the reason ' for some reason I was in neutral when I turned the engine off I have since learned that the system was designed this way. If one is in forward or reverse gear and turns the engine off, the park is automatically engaged. If on is in neutral and turns the engine off, the car stays in neutral ' horrible design. I was told that this was done for towing the car. There should have been consistency across all three gear positions!
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateAug 02, 2019
The chrome trim under the display screen reflects the sun causing a glare that reflects back into the driver's eyes and also makes the screen above it virtually unreadable on sunny days when driving east, ne or se. Of course, the position of the sun depends on location, time of day and season. In my case the glare reflecting off the chrome trim is most prominent when driving east on a sunny day between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm in the detroit area during summer months.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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