BMW recalls 394,000 vehicles equipped with Takata airbags

MW recalls 394,000 elderly people vehicles with airbags that can explode, sending metal fragments flying toward the driver, the latest in a series of recalls by Takata that began more than a decade ago.

The vehicles covered by the recall are certain BMW 3 Series four-door sedans from model years 2006 through 2011 and 3 Series Sportswagon vehicles from model years 2009 through 2011.

Supervisors are mainly concerned that some of the vehicles had been modified by owners to install Sport or M Sport steering wheels — performance steering wheels resembling those used in race cars — with airbags made by now-defunct supplier Takata, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

“Certain vehicles may include a Sport or M Sport steering wheel equipped with a Takata driver airbag module with a PSDI-5 inflator that may have been installed by an owner even though it is not officially offered/approved by BMW as a replacement part,” NHTSA wrote in are recall announcement.

The latest recall adds to a list of safety issues involving airbags produced by Takata, which went bankrupt in 2017 and was sold of its assets. Tens of millions of Takata airbags have been recalled by various automakers over the years. Even in the past two years, at least four manufacturers have issued “do not drive” warnings regarding Takata airbags in older vehicles.

In older airbags, the inflator, a device that shoots gas into the airbag to quickly inflate it, can experience too much internal pressure when it deploys, NHTSA said. That can cause the inflator to rupture, sending metal fragments flying.

BMW has not received any reports of accidents or injuries in the United States related to the steering wheel problem, according to an NHTSA recall report filed July 3. Dealers are being notified of the issue on Wednesday and will contact owners by August 23rd.

It’s common for auto recalls to affect only a portion of the targeted vehicles. No major automaker has been able to remove all Takata airbags from previously sold vehicles, leaving millions of them still on the road, said Michael Brooks of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety.


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According to Brooks, many of those airbags are now so old that the chance of a rupture is 50 percent.

“It’s a critical concern now, and in five years we’re going to have even more vehicles that are reaching the age where they’re a critical concern,” he said. “As long as these airbags are on the road, we’re going to see tragedies.”

According to automotive information company Carfax, an estimated 6.4 million U.S. vehicles were still equipped with Takata airbags as of May 2024.

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