BMW Airbags in 90,000 Vehicles Pose “Dire” Risk of Rupture, Failure in Event of Crash: NHTSA

BMW owners are being instructed not to use their vehicles until the recalled airbags have been replaced.

Federal safety officials have issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for 90,000 previously recalled BMW vehicles from the 2000 to 2006 model years, which still have defective Takata airbags that may be prone to rupturing or failing in the event of a car accident.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the BMW airbag warning on May 4, indicating that vehicles are now 17 to 22 years old, and occupants face a “dire” risk due to a high probability that the airbags may fail during a crash.

If the recalled Takata airbag inflators rupture, it can cause metal fragments and debris to be forcefully ejected into the passenger compartments, which is likely to result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.

The recalled vehicles were previously a part of a massive BMW Takata airbag recall announced in May 2015, which impacted almost 420,000 vehicles, across 20 different BMW models.

While many automakers have struggled to repair the tens of millions of vehicles impacted by the defective Takata airbag recalls, officials are warning airbag inflators in the following BMW models are at a heightened risk of rupturing.

  • 2000-2006 BMW 3 Series (E46), including M3
  • 2000-2003 5 Series (E39), including M5
  • 2000-2004 X5s (E53)

“If you have a model year 2000-2006 BMW with a recalled Takata air bag, get it repaired immediately – for free. These inflators are two decades old now and, with every day that passes, they become even more dangerous as they can rupture even in a minor crash,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said.

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The NHTSA recommends BMW owners immediately verify whether their vehicle is affected by the airbag recall using the online Recall Lookup Tool or SaferCar app. They can also call BMW customer service at 1-866-835-8615 or visit www.bmwusa.com/recall.

Owners with a vehicle that is part of the safety recall should not drive their vehicle and schedule an appointment with a licensed BMW dealer as soon as possible for free inspection and repair. A licensed BMW dealer will either come directly to you to provide mobile repair or will tow your vehicle to their dealership for free.

Takata Airbag Recall Safety Risks

Since 2014 more than 100 million Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide, due to inflators that may cause airbags to overinflate and explode. The problems have already been blamed for a number of severe injuries and deaths.

The series of recalls has been the largest, and arguably one of the most complex, ever recorded in U.S. history, impacting more than 20 different automobile manufacturers.

The problem with the Takata airbag inflators involves the use of the chemical ammonium nitrate to inflate the air bags in the event of an accident. However, exposure to heat or humidity can cause the chemical to breakdown inside the metal container in which it is enclosed, resulting in an explosion of metal debris.

At least 28 people have been killed worldwide by recalled Takata airbags and more than 400 have been injured. Of the fatalities, 19 have occurred in the United States; fourteen of which involved a Honda vehicle. At least another seven fatalities involving Honda vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags have been reported outside of the U.S.

A number of airbag recall lawsuits have been filed over the massive Takata recall series, including claims by consumers who suffered severe and often life-threatening injuries when the airbag exploded following an accident.

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