BMW AG said on Friday it would recall more than 230,000 vehicles in the United States that may have been fitted with faulty airbag inflators by Takata Corp. The company says the vehicles’ original airbag modules didn’t contain the inflators in question, but believe they could have been installed as replacements or spare parts.
The Takata airbag scandal began in 2013, when several deaths prompted one of the largest automotive recalls in history. By June 2014, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota had announced they were recalling over three million vehicles worldwide due to Takata Corporation-made airbags. It emerged that these airbags could rupture in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metals shards.
BMW spokeswoman Rebecca Kiehne said the affected vehicles used airbags manufactured by Petri AG, a partmaker that is now owned by Takata. For any vehicles purchased after 2000 that needed a replacement airbag module, Takata PSDI-4 inflators would have been used.
This could become a more widespread problem. Michael Brooks, acting executive director at the Center for Auto Safety, says automakers could be at risk of a similar situation if Takata parts were used to restore deployed air bags.
“NHTSA should request information from all manufacturers that have Petri air bags, at a minimum,” Brooks said. “If the Takata airbags 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.”
The Takata airbag story is one that just won’t go away for the automotive industry. Earlier this month, Ford announced that an additional 816,309 of its vehicles had been recalled due to faulty Takata airbags. Just last week, Honda India announced a voluntary recall of 41,580 vehicles in the country for the replacement of Takata airbags. In total, it is estimated that the airbag disaster has affected more than seven million vehicles around the world.
The newly affected vehicles include 2001-2002 X5 SUVs, 2000-2002 3 Series and 2001-2003 5 Series models. BMW dealers will inspect the affected vehicles and replace any Takata airbag 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. They later discovered that, at some point in time, a Takata PSDI-4 air bag inflator was installed in the vehicle as a repair part.
Approximately 14,600 Takata inflators were shipped to the U.S. for use as replacements or spare parts from 2002 to 2015. 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 in the recall notice.
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