BMW has sent out an important "do not drive" order that applies to about 90,000 cars built between the 2000 and 2006 model years. The cars included in the campaign were part of a recall related to the Takata-made driver-side airbag inflator, but they haven't been repaired yet.
The list of cars that should be parked until they've been repaired includes the E46-generation 3 Series (pictured) built between 2002 and 2006, the E39-generation 5 Series built from 2000 to 2003, and the E53-generation X5 built between 2000 and 2004. The M3 and M5 are part of the campaign as well. BMW explains these cars were included in earlier recall campaigns but didn't get taken to a dealership for repairs.
All of these older models are equipped with a driver-side airbag inflator made by Takata that can send shrapnel flying into the cabin — in the direction of the front passengers — if triggered. BMW notes it has warned owners about the problem several times since 2016, and it adds that the problem becomes increasingly serious as the part ages. "The risk of serious injury or death increases," it wrote in a statement.
"Owners of affected BMWs that have not had their vehicles inspected and repaired should not consider them safe to drive," it added.
BMW will again reach out to motorists who own a car that needs to be repaired in the coming weeks. It will contact them via email in May 2023 and via regular mail in June 2023, and it's going to significant lengths to ensure that all of the cars still equipped with a Takata airbag inflator are repaired in a timely manner. While drivers can take their car to an authorized dealership to get the recall performed, the company is also dispatching technicians to the car's location so that they can perform the repair on-site, or is offering to pick up cars and return them when the repair is complete.
The fix is free, the parts are readily available, and the job normally takes less than an hour.
If you're not sure if your older BMW's airbag inflator has been replaced, you can visit BMW's dedicated recall site, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's site, call the brand's customer relations line at 1-866-835-8615, or get in touch with a dealership.
BMW isn't the only company that built cars with Takata-sourced airbag inflators: The part is responsible for the largest series of recalls in American history. Approximately 67 million inflators have been recalled by 19 carmakers so far, and the airbags have caused over 30 deaths worldwide, including 24 in the United States. For its part, BMW notes that about 87% of its affected cars have already been repaired.
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