2019 BMW i3 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The streets will one day be filled with plug-in vehicles, and BMW hoped to help move into the future with the 2018 BMW i3. In fact, the newer model’s tagline is “Our revolution starts with a charge.” However, the only revolution started by this model is the occurrence of complaints as a result of owning an i3. From the defective electrical system to faulty steering, owners are struggling to be happy with this model.

 

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2019 BMW i3

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Steering
3
Electrical System
1
Fuel/propulsion System
1

Problems with the Electrical System

It wasn’t just the owners that were critical of this model. Even top auto publications were outspoken about the defects this BMW vehicle offered.

In a short and to the point statement by Car and Driver, the publication stated that this model features “slow charging on a 120-volt connection.”

Aside from waiting forever for this vehicle to charge, there are serious electrical issues that owners must be aware of. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V599000 states that a circuit board defect within the Electric Motor Electronics module could shut down the supply of high-voltage electricity. When this occurs, the car will cease operations and could cause an accident. It’s true that people were already looking at the i3 with crossed eyes because of its exceptionally unpleasant design. Now, having these cars sitting in the middle of the street just makes it even worse. Drivers who were trying to commute to work without being noticed have lost hope behind the wheel of the defective i3.

Problems with the Steering

The 2019 BMW i3 is a small vehicle and shouldn’t be difficult to maneuver. However, customers seem to be experiencing trouble with the steering system.

Here is one NHTSA complaint that illustrates the point. “Steering has been normal until now. Suddenly on two occasions after stopping at a light it was hard to make a left turn. Steering felt as if tire pressure was low. Pressure was not low. This is first time this has occurred. Discovered this is a common complaint on internet searches. Have not driven i3 again since incident.”

This customer just earned themselves a very expensive lawn ornament if they don’t plan on driving the car any longer. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that BMW is doing anything to fix the situation. While there are many complaints out there on the web, BMW hasn’t issued any statements or fixes. Hopefully, the “revolution” BMW wants to start doesn’t require that anyone makes a left-hand turn.

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Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System, Fuel/propulsion System
DateJul 22, 2021
StateCA
Description
On july 4, 2021, I realized that the charge port on my bmw i3 would not accept a charge plug - it appeared to be blocked. I took the car to the dealer and they informed me that the charge port had been damaged (melted) by heat from a defective charger. In addition to public charging, I had typically been using a home charger - a mustart level 2 40-amp charge cable purchased from amazon on february 4, 2019. The bmw technician requested to see the cable and it was confirmed to be damaged also. Bmw attributed this incident to the charger rather than the vehicle, so the repair (over 00) was not covered under warranty. I feel this represents a serious safety concern, as the overheated charger/charge port could have caused a fire in my garage. I have retained the parts associated with this incident, including the charge cable and the damaged charge port from the vehicle.
CategorySteering
DateJan 31, 2021
StateIN
Description
Lost power steering as I was leaving my house, making car very difficult to control. Thinking I had a flat tire, I turned around and returned home. Shut down the car, checked the tires (they were fine), restarted it, and power steering returned. This happened twice within a few days.
CategorySteering
DateSep 09, 2020
StateOH
Description
On the way back home from work, steering felt quite heavy and it kept pulling towards the right side. I initially thought I had a flat tire but the tire pressure was normal. Driving back home on freeway felt very unsafe as it was quite unsteady at speeds greater than 30mph
CategorySteering
DateDec 23, 2019
StateAL
Description
Steering has been normal until now. Suddenly on two occasions after stopping at a light it was hard to make a left turn. Steering felt as if tire pressure was low. Pressure was not low. This is first time this has occurred. Discovered this is a common complaint on internet searches. Have not driven i3 again since incident.

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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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