Deciding that it's better to be safe than sorry, BMW has announced that it will replace all passenger-side front airbags in 3-Series vehicles from the 2000-2006 model years.
Like many other automakers that have recently issued airbag-related recalls, BMW's stems from airbag systems manufactured by Takata during the early part of this century, which made use of a faulty propellant. When those airbags deploy, the propellant can cause the bags to rip, spraying occupants with shrapnel. At least eight such incidents have been reported in the U.S. and Japan, and two deaths have been attributed to the problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the airbags, and preliminary findings suggest that the problem is worsened by humidity. That's why some automakers have focused their recalls on vehicles sold in or registered in southern states.
BMW, however, is recalling all 3-Series vehicles made between May 1999 and August 2006. In a statement, the automaker estimates that the recall will affect some 574,000 vehicles in the U.S. (excluding roughly 42,000 which were already recalled for this problem last year). That brings the total number of cars recalled because of Takata's faulty airbags somewhere north of 12 million. Honestly, we've lost count.
BMW says that it will mail owners a notice about the recall, though the company hasn't said when those mailings will go out. If you believe you own one of the affected vehicles, you're encouraged to contact BMW Customer Relations at 800-525-7417 or email email@example.com.