Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

Defective Air Bags Found in Repaired BMWs, Spurring Fresh Recall

  • BMW recalls 230,000 vehicles that may have Takata inflators
  • Other automakers could be at risk if Takata part was used

BMW AG is recalling about 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. after discovering that some may have been fitted with defective Takata Corp. air-bag inflators during repairs, such as after a crash in which the devices deployed.

The affected vehicles used air bags manufactured by Petri AG, a German partsmaker bought by Takata in 2000. If those vehicles needed a replacement air-bag module, Takata PSDI-4 inflators would have been used, BMW spokeswoman Rebecca Kiehne said.

The faulty Takata inflators can explode in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. The defect has been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide and prompted one of the largest automotive recalls in history.

Michael Brooks, acting executive director at the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based advocacy group, says other automakers could be at risk of a similar situation if Takata parts were used to restore deployed air bags. He urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate.

“NHTSA should request information from all manufacturers that have Petri air bags, at a minimum,” Brooks said. “If the Takata air bags have been replacing Petri air bags, they have to figure out the entire population of affected vehicles and have them inspected and replaced if necessary.”

Messages left with NHTSA were not immediately returned.

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The affected BMWs were manufactured earlier than the ones already under recall for defective air bags, and brings the total to 1,568,247, Kiehne said. Some of the vehicles were previously under recall for passenger-side Takata inflators, she said.

The newly affected vehicles include certain 2001-2002 X5 SUVs, 2000-2002 3 Series and 2001-2003 5 Series models. Motorists can check the recall status of their vehicle at www.safercar.gov.

BMW dealers will inspect the affected vehicles and replace any Takata air-bag inflators they discover, Kiehne said.

BMW learned of the issue after an owner of a 2000 3 Series asked the company to identify the type of inflator in the vehicle, according to BMW’s recall notice posted on the NHTSA’s website.

The automaker later discovered that “at some point in its lifetime” a Takata PSDI-4 air bag inflator was installed in the vehicle as a repair part, BMW said in its chronology.

Approximately 14,600 Takata inflators were shipped to the U.S. for use as replacements or spare parts from 2002 to 2015, BMW said in the recall notice. A large portion of those may have been installed on vehicles already covered by Takata recalls, but some may have been fitted to the earlier population, BMW said.

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