Owners of nearly 1 million BMW vehicles are being urged to park their cars and SUVs outside until a recall repair is completed, as an electrical short in the engine may cause the vehicles to catch on fire, even when they are parked and not in use.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the BMW recall on November 2, warning owners of affected vehicles to keep them outside of garages and away from the home, due to the potential for vehicle fires.
The NHTSA warned owners of impacted vehicles that it is possible for an electrical short to occur within the PCV valve, causing it to melt and increase the risk of a fire hazard even when the vehicles are turned off and not in use.
According to the NHTSA recall documents, the first report of a problem came in 2007, when the owner of a 2007 BMW X5 SAV model reported heat-related damage to the engine compartment.
Upon further review, BMW could not discover the root cause and closed the investigation of the isolated report. However, between 2010 and 2012, BMW received several more reports from consumers who witnessed smoldering and overheating in the engine components. BMW’s field technicians determined that the issues were related to a combination of contributing factors, and since no injuries were reported, the investigation was closed.
In mid-2016, BMW received a report from Transport Canada indicating a BMW model experienced a similar overheating event, prompting the investigation to be reopened to determine the root cause.
Investigators ultimately determined that the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve heater may not have been produced to specification. This led to irregularities in the manufacturing process, resulting in cavities in the area of electrical contacts near the PTC element and copper tubing. Moisture could then enter and cause a short circuit, melting the plastic coating and material surrounding the PCV valve heater. This increases the risk of a fire, even when the vehicles are turned off.
Owners are urged to keep the vehicles outside of garages or parking garages, or anywhere that a vehicle fire could cause harm to people or property. Owners should be cautious of an illuminating Malfunction Indication Lamp (MIL) on the dashboard as this could be an indicator of an overheating event.
The recall affects certain model 2008 through 2011 128i models and 2007 through 2011 328i, 328xi, 328i xDrive, 525i, 525xi, 528i, 528xi, 530i, 530xi, X3 3.0si, X3 xDrive, X5 xDrive30i, Z4 3.0i, Z4 3.0si, and Z4 sDrive30i vehicles manufactured by BMW of North America, LLC.
Owners will receive recall instructions from BWM on how to schedule a free PCV valve heater replacement. The recall is expected to begin on December 18, 2017, the company indicates. Owners with additional questions or concerns regarding the recall are encouraged to contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417 or the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.