BMW recalls 1.6 million 3 Series vehicles worldwide with Takata airbags

BMW is recalling 1.6 million 3 series vehicles worldwide with Takata airbag inflators as a precautionary measure, the automaker said Wednesday. The BMW 3 Series recall affects 574,000 cars in the US.

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters/File
A worker attaches a BMW company car logo on a new 3-Series car at the company's plant in Leipzig. German automaker BMW said on Wednesday it is recalling about 1.6 million 3-Series vehicles produced between May 1999 and August 2006 worldwide to replace passenger-side front airbags made by Takata Corp because the inflators could break apart during deployment and injure passengers.

BMW says it is expanding a recall from last year to 1.6 million cars worldwide with Takata airbag inflators.

BMW’s recall affects 1.6 million 3 Series vehicles produced between 1999 and 2006, the automaker says in a July 16 press release. Of those vehicles, 574,000 in the US are affected. Last year, the automaker recalled 240,000 cars with similar potential problems.

BMW says it made this recall because of other automakers using similar systems from the same supplier. The supplier, Takata Corp., has made airbag inflators that can rupture. That may cause the bags to not work properly and shards to fly out and injure people.

Takata airbag inflators are used by a wide range of automakers, so they have led to millions of vehicles being recalled. General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota all have made recalls relating to faulty airbag inflators from the Japanese auto supplier in the past few years. Many of the recalls have been in hot, humid states, because high humidity may cause the airbags to explode.

BMW says it has no reports of problems with its vehicles, and that dealers will replace the passenger-side airbags. Customers affected by the recall will be notified by BMW.

 Takata’s defective airbag saga has not only caused several recalls, but also at least one lawsuit. When GM recalled 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes in late June, the automaker said it learned about the problem through a lawsuit alleging that an airbag in a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze improperly deployed and injured the driver, as the Monitor reported. GM did not specify the lawsuit in reporting the recall to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), but Brandi Owens filed a lawsuit in Atlanta’s federal court late April alleging that her 2013 Cruze’s airbag deployed and injured her after she bumped into a car in stop-and-go traffic.

“GM and Takata knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that the subject vehicle and the driver’s airbag were defective and unreasonably dangerous to the human body when being so used in a foreseeable manner,” the lawsuit reads.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating airbags made by Takata in June. The agency says it received six reports of airbags rupturing in Florida and Puerto Rico, resulting in three injuries. NHTSA says it continues to communicate with Takata and the affected automakers while the agency continues its investigation.

"Based on the limited data available at this time, NHTSA supports efforts by automakers to address the immediate risk in areas that have consistently hot, humid conditions over extended periods of time," the agency says in a statement.

Takata said in a statement Wednesday it supports the NHTSA investigation, according to the Associated Press.

"Our objective is to do all that is possible to ensure the safety and well-being of the public," it reads. 

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