2020 BMW 3 Series Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

When a driver gets behind the wheel of a 2020 BMW 3 Series they expect plenty of acceleration and excitement. BMW claims, “the 3 pushes forward.”, however customers often find many defects as illustrated by the countless recalls. Some of these problems include a defective engine, glitchy electrical system and shoddy structure.


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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 BMW 3 Series

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags
Electrical System:ignition

Problems with the Engine

If BMW is known for anything, it’s creating a durable, exciting engine. However, the BMW 3 Series appears to have missed the memo that this is supposed to be a precision-focused motor because it only creates disappointment.

Just read this Edmunds review. “The standard engine is a 4-cylinder, 2 liter sometimes noisy or struggling powertrain.”

The BMW engine isn’t just boring, but also dangerous. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V732000 talks about how the needle roller bearings on the counterbalance were improperly installed. Without these bearings in place, the counterbalance shaft can loosen, which leads to engine damage and a potential accident. With a damaged motor, it would be very difficult for the BMW 3 Series to push anywhere, including forward.

Problems with the Electrical System

As a luxury model, the BMW 3 Series should contain the latest bells and whistles, creating a seamless experience. However, the electrical system can’t even handle the basics, let alone the most sophisticated.

Here’s another Edmunds review to consider. “The rear end collision alert did not keep me from backing into a short 3 foot pole in the ground, I clearly did not see.”

Having a functional rearview camera image might have helped this situation, but that’s another problem. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V096000 states that the rearview image could either be obscured or it won’t illuminate, causing a higher chance of an accident. While discussing visibility, it’s also important to look at NHTSA Campaign Number 19V85000. This recall states that a defective headlight control unit is causing the headlights to go out unexpectedly. Without headlights, it is impossible to drive at night, proving that this model definitely doesn’t “push forward” after sunset.

Problems with the Structure

What’s worse is the amount of defects with the structure and how poorly this BMW 3 Series is built.

One more Edmunds review states, “Sadly, BMW has decided to place 18″ rims/wheels with smaller road grip and just fair-to-good handling. It really needs more rubber and width at 55-70mph speeds. Also, BMW is using run-flat tires that provide an often harsh ride coupled with road noise.”

BMW did not put nearly enough care into building this car. According to NHTSA Campaign Number 20V355000, many affected vehicles have a steering gear tie rod that gets damaged and fractures. When this occurs, the handling of the vehicle becomes difficult and people lose control. What’s worse is NHTSA Campaign Number 20V164000 that talks about defective seat belt sensors. It appears that the sensors are inaccurately detecting occupants as unbelted, leading to trouble with the pretensioners and air bag during an accident. Considering how likely it is for the BMW 3 Series to get into an accident, it would be imperative that these systems work. At this point, the only thing that the BMW 3 Series is continuing to “push forward” toward is having the most number of recalls for one vehicle. What a lemon!

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes BMW pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryAir Bags
DateMar 15, 2022
Car was t-boned by another vehicle at 65-70 mph (other driver was cited as negligent and responsible for accident)—and other driver's car caused damage to the bmw and driver (my daughter) due to the side airbags on the bmw not deploying (damage to daughter would have been significantly less had the bmw side airbags deployed as they should have upon impact).
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateAug 11, 2021
I do not know what component or system failed or malfunctioned, the car is available for inspection upon request. The car started and moved forward with no driver or passenger inside and stopped because it hit my garage door from which it was parked 3 feet from before it moved forward driverless. A car which moves by itself is unsafe because it can hit a person or object. To date, 8/11/2021 the problem has not been reproduced or confirmed by a dealer or independent service center? The car has not been inspected. Today a message from bmw initiated an inspection appointment at the dealer. Problem occurred without warning.
CategoryElectrical System:ignition
DateJul 28, 2021
The contact owns a 2020 bmw 330i. The contact stated that while he was sleeping, the vehicle was parked outside of the garage and had started itself without the key in the ignition then drove itself and crashed into the aluminum garage door. The contact was aware of the failure when he went inside the garage and heard the engine running but could not open the garage door. When the contact went outside, he saw that the vehicle had crashed into the garage door with the engine still running and the headlights were on. A police report was filed. The dealer was contacted but had not returned the contact's phone call. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 17,218.
DateApr 16, 2021
Tl* the contact owns a 2020 bmw 330i equipped with continental tires, tire line: procontact gx ssr, tire size: 225/45/r18. The contact stated that the front driver's side and the front and rear passenger's side tires failed. The contact stated that the front driver's tire had a bubble on sidewall and the rear passenger tire was cracked on side wall while the front passenger's side tire experienced a blowout. The vehicle was towed to rallye bmw (1 brush hollow rd, westbury, ny 11590, (516) 393-0000) where it was diagnosed with needing 3 tires to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 10,000. The vin was unavailable.
DateOct 01, 2020
Tl* the contact owns a 2020 bmw 330i. The contact stated that the engine coolant low warning light illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to rallye bmw (1 brush hollow rd, westbury, ny 11590; (516) 393-0000) who confirmed them that the coolant level was low. The dealer stated that the heat management module was defective and needed to be replaced. The dealer also discovered that coolant had leaked into the oil filter housing and the housing was damaged. The mechanic replaced the oil filter housing, added oil, and flushed the coolant. The contact returned the vehicle to the same dealer. The dealer bled and checked the cooling system and found no leaks. The dealer topped off the coolant level. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and opened a case. The approximate failure mileage was 3,142.*dt*jb
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateFeb 05, 2020
My vehicle was parked in a driveway. Prior to parking, I had followed the manufacturer's instructions on how to have my car memorize the last 100 feet driven in order to use the backup assist feature. When I started my vehicle, I activated the backup assist feature following the manufacturers instructions. My vehicle responded accordingly and the backup assist functioned normally for the first few seconds. The backup assist then disengaged and my car accelerated backwards, went off its track and backed forcefully into a brick wall before I could apply the brakes. Damage to the rear of the car was extensive. I did have the car evaluated by bmw engineers for potential defects in software or sensors, but I was told that the system functioned as intended. My response is that the system is inherently unsafe if it can disengage and accelerate in reverse without driver input. In addition, my vehicle is still in the repair shop awaiting certain parts from germany.

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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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