2003 BMW 3 Series 330D SE 3.0 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland
Great but flawed
Continuous faults with the sensors for the lights and airbag.
Automatic gearbox failed at 72000 miles.
Brought the car for my wife because of the great reviews we had read about the handling and performance. The car has been great to drive, and the big 3.0 diesel is very smooth and offers effortless performance. The auto box was great with smooth silk changes, and now my wife doesn't want to go back to a manual.
However after 15 months of happy motoring, we went on a long motorway run and noticed a problem with the auto box, where on a light throttle it was constantly changing between 4th and 5th at 65mph. We took it to our local garage and they couldn't diagnose a problem with their computers, and over a month it slowly spread to other gears. So we arrange a service with the local BMW main dealer, they took it for a test run, during which the gear box completely failed on them. Their proposed remedy was a new gearbox at the cost of £4000. (which is approximately 50% of the cars value). Due to the cars age and mileage, the main dealers service team asked BMW whether they would make a contribution and they promptly refused.
We finally made arrangements to repair the car with a gearbox specialist who are refurbishing the gearbox for £1800 with 1 years warranty.
The gearbox specialist has repaired a number of 3.0 diesel autos and they believe that the standard GM gearbox cannot cope with the diesels torque!! Under its standard servicing regime BMW has a sealed for life strategy on the oil for its auto-boxes, and in researching I have found many failed just over the 100K mark.
In all I am shocked that a so called premium quality product can have such a major flaw as we have experienced.
We have enjoyed the cars handling and performance enormously, but we have lost confidence in the car and won't be keeping it beyond the years gearbox warranty.
So anyone thinking of buying an auto, I suggest you stick with a petrol BMW.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 5th February, 2009
Generally manual boxes don't tend to go wrong. Auto's are more prone to problems. That said, there are decent auto's out there.
It is a good gearbox. It's the sealed for life policy that kills it.
The only good autos I have found are Volvo and Jag. I have had 3 BMWs, all manual; friends have found the autos problematic.
So BMWs make solid engines, but stick to stick shift. The 330d is a great car.