BMW recalling 394,000 US vehicles over potentially deadly air bag issue

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – German carmaker BMW said on Wednesday it was recalling 394,000 vehicles in the United States due to faulty airbag inflators that could potentially cause serious or fatal injuries, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday.

An air bag inflator could explode, sending potentially deadly sharp metal fragments flying and striking the driver or others in the vehicle, NHTSA said.

BMW said the issue covers air bag inflators that had been previously recalled but the vehicles could have had a replacement steering wheel installed with a defective air bag.

Owners will take vehicles to dealers for inspections, and if a steering wheel with a recalled airbag is found it will be replaced. BMW said it was unaware of any crashes or injuries tied to the new recall.

The faulty airbag inflators manufactured by Japanese automotive parts company Takata Corp are at the center of the largest, most complex recall process in auto history.

More than 30 deaths – including at least 26 in the United States – and hundreds of injuries since 2009 have been attributed to Takata airbags fitted to vehicles of various automakers.

In 2020, NHTSA said it had identified a U.S. death tied to a Takata air bag inflator rupture in a BMW crash in Arizona.

Over the past decade, more than 100 million vehicles fitted with Takata airbag inflators have been recalled worldwide.

Once the world’s leading supplier of airbags, Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after the scandal.

The latest recall includes certain BMW 3 Series Sedans and Sportswagon models from the 2006 to 2012 model years.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington Disha Mishra and Ananta Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Shinjini Ganguli and Sandra Maler