BMW has issued an even wider recall of its most popular cars in the 3-Series. The German automaker plans to recall 1.6 million 3-Series cars that are from model years 2000 to 2006 around the globe, including 574,000 in the United States.
BMW has stated that this is only a precaution in response to problems other automakers have experienced recently with similar systems. Airbag inflators in systems made by the Takata Corporation, a supplier of seat belts, airbags, steering wheels, and other auto parts, based in Japan, have been found to rupture. When this happens, the airbags may not function properly. Broken shards also could fly out with the deployed airbag and injure passengers.
Thus far, BMW has not received any confirmed reports of problems with their airbag systems, but the company plans to issue all replacements regardless. Dealers will replace the front passenger-side airbags. The new recall does not include 42,000 BMW models recalled in May 2013 for the same problem, as it should have already been fixed.
Warm, Humid Weather Seems to Exacerbate Airbag Problem
One thing most of these recent airbag problems seem to share is that the affected cars have been in climates that expose the vehicles to hot, humid weather over an extended period of time.
In June, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating air bags made by Takata. The agency has since received six reports of air bags rupturing in Florida and Puerto Rico, but more may be reported as the investigation continues. So far, there have only been three reported injuries. Approximately 1.1 million vehicles in the United States could be affected, and this total is likely to climb during the NHTSA investigation.
This airbag problem has previously triggered millions of recalls by manufacturers including Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota. Since most of the problems have affected cars in states with hot and humid weather, the government wants to work more quickly in places with warmer weather while investigations continue. BMW will replace airbags in all vehicles equipped with potentially faulty air bag systems regardless of where they were sold. Customers living in warmer climates should still be aware that they might be more susceptible to related problems.
The NHTSA has issued a statement stating that they support “efforts by automakers to address the immediate risk in areas that have consistently hot, humid conditions over extended periods of time,” but that the data is still limited. There may be fewer problems than originally predicted. Still, it is important for all owners of affected models go to their dealers to get the potential problem taken care of as quickly as possible.