The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently launched an investigation of the 2012 Subaru Impreza following numerous complaints that the car's safety system had incorrectly disabled the front passenger airbag. Now, BMW is recalling more than 90,000 MINI Cooper hardtop, convertible, and S models for precisely the same problem.
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According to NHTSA, MINI's problems are rooted in a component manufactured by Johnson Controls. That component is the front passenger seat occupant detection mat, which determines whether anyone's riding shotgun and, if not, disables the passenger-side frontal airbag. As for exactly what's wrong with the device, NHTSA says that there are "multiple issues causing increased electrical resistance of the sensor mat, associated with production, installation and field exposure (wear)."
The problem is nearly identical to one that led to numerous BMW recalls. In this case, it affects the following MINI models:
- 2005-2006 MINI Cooper built between January 5, 2005 and November 28, 2006
- 2005-2006 MINI Cooper S built between January 5, 2005 and November 28, 2006
- 2005-2008 MINI Cooper Convertible built between January 5, 2005 and July 31, 2008
- 2005-2008 MINI Cooper S Convertible built between January 5, 2005 and July 31, 2008
All told, the recall affects approximately 91,800 vehicles registered in the U.S.
MINI says that it will send recall notices to owners around May 1 of this year. After receiving those notices, owners can take their vehicles to a certified dealer, who will replace the front passenger seat occupant detection mat at no charge. Owners who've already had those components replaced will be reimbursed.
If you believe that you own one of the vehicles listed above and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact MINI customer service at 1-866-825-1525. Or, if you prefer, you can contact NHTSA directly at 888-327-4236 and ask about recall #15V205000.