BMW's Takata Airbag Recall Now Affects 420,000 U.S. Vehicles: 3-Series, 5-Series, X5, More

June 1, 2015

After months of hemming, hawing, and haggling with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto parts supplier Takata has finally agreed to replace potentially deadly airbags found in vehicles across the U.S. Last week, automakers and NHTSA began updating their rosters of recalled vehicles, and now, BMW has done the same.

Takata's airbags have linked to dozens of injuries and at least six deaths in the U.S. and Asia. Many of the devices have exploded upon impact and spewed passengers with shrapnel.

It's believed that the problem with the airbags lies in the ammonium nitrate Takata used as a propellant. When destabilized, that compound can cause massive explosions. (It was used during the Oklahoma City bombings and is now regulated by the federal government.)

Unfortunately, it appears that the ammonium nitrate in Takata's airbags can degrade when exposed to moisture, including atmospheric humidity. As a result, many of the previous recalls meant to replace the devices have focused on areas of high humidity, like states along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Now, however, some of those recalls are expanding to include vehicles from coast to coast.

Last week, Ford and Fiat Chrysler enlarged their Takata recalls by more than 6,000,000 vehicles. Now, BMW has expanded its recall list, bringing the total to 420,661 U.S. vehicles. The following BMW models are now being recalled nationwide to replace driver-side airbags:

  • 2002-2005 BMW 325i Sedan
  • 2002-2005 BMW 325xi Sedan
  • 2002-2005 BMW 330i Sedan
  • 2002-2005 BMW 330xi Sedan
  • 2002-2005 BMW 325xi Sportswagon
  • 2002-2005 BMW 325i Sportswagon
  • 2002-2006 BMW 330Ci Convertible
  • 2002-2006 BMW 325Ci Convertible
  • 2002-2006 BMW M3 Convertible
  • 2002-2006 BMW 325i Coupe
  • 2002-2006 BMW 330i Coupe
  • 2002-2006 BMW M3 Coupe
  • 2002-2003 BMW M5 Sedan
  • 2002-2003 BMW 540i Sedan
  • 2002-2003 BMW 525i Sedan
  • 2002-2003 BMW 530i Sedan
  • 2002-2003 BMW 540i Sportswagon
  • 2002-2003 BMW 525i Sportswagon
  • 2003-2004 BMW X5 3.0i Sports Activity Vehicle
  • 2003-2004 BMW 4.4i Sports Activity Vehicle

BMW notes that 5-series and X5 vehicles are only included in this recall if they came equipped with the optional sports steering wheel. 

BMW says that it will mail recall notices to owners, though it hasn't indicated when that will happen. When owners receive those notices, they'll be able to take their vehicles to a BMW dealer, who will replace the front driver air bag module at no charge.

Already had your BMW fixed? Unfortunately, it appears that the replacement airbag installed on your vehicle may not be up to snuff either, so you're going to have to take it in for service a second time. 

If you own one of the vehicles listed above and have questions, you're encouraged to contact BMW customer service at 800-525-7417, or call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #15V318000.

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