BMW is extending a recall of its 3-Series vehicles to replace the passenger-side front airbag in 1.6 million cars produced between 1999 and 2006, 574,000 of them sold in the U.S..
This action puts the grand total of vehicles recalled in the U.S. at more than 40 million vehicles through mid-July, further separating this year from the previous record high of 33.01 million 2004. But it also adds to a growing list of problems involving faulty airbags, including a series of recalls linked to defective systems supplied by Japan’s Takata that has become one of the five biggest safety-related issues in automotive history.
The recall is due to “potential problems with the airbag inflator which may rupture in vehicles produced by other manufacturers using similar systems from the same supplier have become evident in rare cases,” the company said.
At this point, there have been no instances of this problem in BMWs vehicles, but the maker elected to not take any chances. It informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plans. The vehicles impacted were produced between May 1999 and August 2006. It’s an extension of an earlier recall from May 2013 when the maker targeted just 42,000 cars.
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However, BMW’s airbag supplier, which it did not identify, found the problems were an issue for a longer time period so BMW widened the scope of the recall. Those original 42,000 are exempted from the expanded action. It is believed that the supplier is also Japan’s Takata.
A manufacturing defect at Takata facilities in North America resulted in faulty airbag inflators that could cause serious problems in the event of a crash, including the possibility of shrapnel being sent flying into the passenger compartment. Last month alone, more than 5 million Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda vehicles were added to the list of products impacted by the Takata problem. The BMW recall would bring the total number of vehicles affected to around 12 million since the defect was first identified.
But there have been a number of other issues involving faulty airbags in recent years, raising increasing concerns among the same safety advocates who have long billed so-called supplemental inflatable restraints as one of the most critical safety advances of recent decades.
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BMW said it will notify customers with potentially affected vehicles by mail. Customers with questions should contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-525-7417 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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