Luxury Maker BMW Recalls 45,500 Vehicles for Safety Issue

Following a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation, German luxury automaker BMW has recalled nearly 45,500 of its BMW 7-Series automobiles. The recall centers around a safety issue with the computer-controlled automatic transmission control module. The affected vehicles include 2002- 2008 7-Series BMW’s. However, approximately 45,000 vehicles, a large percentage of the vehicles recalled, were produced from 2006 thru 2008.

Data provided by BMW to the NHTSA reported 14 crashes and five claimed injuries that are potentially related to the automatic transmission control system. The incidents occurred when an unattended vehicle rolled away after being placed in what the driver thought was park but turns out the transmission control system shifted into neutral.

Earlier this year, the NHTSA opened its investigation with BMW and reported three incident reports in its own database. Two of the vehicle rollaway incidents reported to the NHTSA resulted in crashes.

The affected vehicles utilize a push-button system for starting and stopping the engine and a “Shift-by-Wire” system for the gearshift controlled via a lever on the column behind the steering wheel. This automatic system can replace a traditional cable system linking the gearshift and the transmission with an electronic computer-controlled system.

Vehicle Operation Instructions May Be Misleading

2006-2008_BMW_7-SeriesAccording to the NHTSA, the operating instructions accompanying the vehicle may be the partial source of the problem. The instructions state that pressing the start/stop button turns off the engine and places the transmission in park. However, there are circumstances in which the transmission is actually placed in neutral.

Potentially, the vehicle operator could place the transmission in park, assume it is stationary and leave the vehicle. Vehicle rollaway may then occur and cause damages to property or unaware pedestrians.

The NHTSA performed an initial investigation into the issue. To determine the potential safety consequences of the defect, they updated the issue to Engineering Analysis status. Recently, the organization determined that a product recall was necessary in order to protect consumers and the public from a potentially dangerous situation.

The recall is scheduled to begin in early November 2012 when consumers will be notified about the issue. They may schedule an appointment with their BMW dealer. While the repairs and updates will be made at no cost to the consumer, the necessary software update will not be available until March 2013.