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.

General Comments:

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

7th Feb 2009, 15:32

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.

15th Sep 2009, 15:46

It is a good gearbox. It's the sealed for life policy that kills it.

13th Apr 2010, 20:28

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.

2003 BMW 3 Series 330 CI Sport Coupe 3.0L petrol from UK and Ireland





General Comments:

I bought this car this year, and am seriously impressed.

Superbly equipped, great performance, handsome looks.

Crackling acceleration, especially mid-range, yet surprisingly frugal if driven sedately

Excellent interior with full leather and carbon fibre touches. Good supportive seats, the cabin feels snug, yet roomy (I am 6' 4")

Rear seats are comfortable, and everything feels ergonomic, controls are all where they should be.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th June, 2008

2003 BMW 3 Series 325i 6 cylinders from North America


Nice car to ride if you can afford the maintenance


BMW charges 500.00 for front and another 500.00 for rear brakes. I bought brake pads on-line and did it for 170.00 for front and 170.00 for back. This included the brake drum, brakes and sensor.

Had a rear electrical problem with the brake light. BMW wanted 100.00 for computer inspection and 175.00 for the rear electrical bulb holder. I took a small tooth pick and fix the problem.

Battery died. 145.00 at Local Discount Auto Parts store. 185.00 at BMW.

Alternator died. Called the bank to pickup the car.

General Comments:

Overall experience is really nice, but be ready to pocket out serious money for maintenance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 12th December, 2007

21st Jul 2009, 13:47

Or do all the brakes and rotors yourself for ~$300..

Or get them all done at an independent shop for half the price.

Not sure why people still go to the dealer.

11th May 2011, 01:28

Umm, did you even read the whole thing? If you're gonna take the time to comment, at least read the whole review.

My question to the owner is, over what course of time/mileage?