BMW put a “do not drive” alert on 90,000 sedans and SUVs on Friday, notifying owners that the vehicles have potentially dangerous Takata airbags.
Owners of BMW vehicles built between 2000 and 2006 have been told to park their cars “immediately and contact BMW for more information,” as stated on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
Models with Takata airbags that are therefore affected include the 2000-2006 BLW 3 Series, the 2000-2003 5 Series and the 2000-2004 X5s. The recall also asks that owners of the BMW 1 series, including X1, X3, X5 and X6 models made in certain years, put it in park.
Owners can check if their BMW is affected, plus schedule a free repair, by visiting the automaker’s designated recall website or calling a BMW service center.
It’s the Takata airbags that need to be replaced, since “long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these airbags to explode when deployed,” according to the NHTSA’s website. “Such explosions have caused injuries and death.”
Takata, a Japanese automaker, uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. However, the chemical has come to be known to deteriorate over time, making the product fatal should a car ever deploy the airbags.
All of the problem BMW vehicles “are 17-22 years old, and the risk to vehicle occupants is dire,” the NHTSA’s website warns.
“If the inflators rupture, the metal fragments ejected toward the driver’s face could kill or leave them with devastating, life-altering injuries,” the alert reads.
Automobile manufacturer Stellantis and US safety regulators have already confirmed that an exploding Takata airbag inflator killed a third driver back in December 2022. The two other deaths were confirmed the month prior.
After news of the deaths, Stellantis urged people to stop driving Dodge Magnum wagons, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars as well as Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005-2010 model years.
Around the same time, Volkswagen recalled 42,000 Beetles in the US and Canada from the 2015 and 2016 model years in order to replace the airbags.
BMW’s “do not rive” alert is just the latest. Honda issued a similar warning in February, asking customers to stop driving 2001-2003 Acura and Honda vehicles. And Ford issued “stop delivery” and “stop driving” warnings to dealers and customers, respectively, for certain Bronco SUVs.
Since 2009, faulty Takata airbags have killed 24 people across the US, and at least 33 worldwide.
However, Takata has been investigated for its fatal issues as early as 2002. The company has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid $1 billion in penalties in 2017 — the same year it filed for bankruptcy.
Yet recalls are still taking place, with at least 100 million Takata inflators recalled worldwide. The dangerous malfunction has led to the largest series of auto recalls in US history.