BMW recalls 394,000 older vehicles equipped with Takata air bags


MW is recalling 394,000 older vehicles equipped with air bags that can explode and send metal fragments flying at the driver, the latest in a line of Takata recalls that started more than a decade ago.

The vehicles included in the recall are certain BMW 3 Series four-door Sedans carrying the model years 2006 through 2011, and 3 Series Sportswagon vehicles from 2009 to 2011.

Regulators are particularly concerned that some of the vehicles may have been modified by the owners to include sport or M-sport steering wheels — performance steering wheels that resemble those on racecars — that use air bags made by the now-defunct supplier Takata, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Certain vehicles may contain a sport or M-sport steering wheel equipped with a Takata driver’s front air bag module that contains a PSDI-5 inflater that could have been installed by an owner, even though it was not officially offered/approved by BMW as a replacement part,” NHTSA wrote in its recall announcement.

The latest recall adds to the list of safety problems related to air bags manufactured by Takata, which went bankrupt in 2017 and sold off its assets. Tens of millions of Takata’s air bags were recalled by various auto manufacturers over the years. Even in the past two years, at least four manufacturers have issued “do not drive” warnings related to Takata air bags in older vehicles.

In older air bags the inflater, a device that shoots gas into the air bag to inflate it quickly, can experience excessive internal pressure when it deploys, NHTSA said. That can cause the inflater to rupture, sending metal fragments flying outward.

BMW has not received any reports of accidents or injuries in the United States related to the steering wheel issue, according to an NHTSA recall report submitted July 3. Dealers will be notified of the issue Wednesday and will reach out to owners by Aug. 23.

It’s common for auto recalls to reach only a portion of the intended vehicles. No major auto manufacturer has come close to removing all Takata air bags in previously sold vehicles, leaving millions still out on the roads, said Michael Brooks of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety.


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Many of those air bags are now reaching the age where the likelihood of a rupture is as high as 50 percent, Brooks said.

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

There were an estimated 6.4 million U.S. vehicles with Takata air bags still installed as of May 2024, according to the vehicle information company Carfax.

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