BMW issued today a “Do Not Drive” warning for approximately 90,000 vehicles built between 2000 and 2006. The cars are already under recall for having defective Takata airbags, but they remain unrepaired, forcing the automaker to issue the order to emphasize the seriousness of fixing the issue.
The recall affects the 2000-2006 3 Series E46, the 2000-2003 5 Series E39, and the 2000-2004 X5 E53. It includes both the M3 and the M5. “Owners of affected BMWs that have not had their vehicles inspected and repaired should not consider them safe to drive,” the automaker said in the statement announcing the order.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest in US history, involving millions of vehicles across several makes and models. It’s been a decade since automakers began issuing recalls related to the Takata-made airbags, and they are still attempting to fix all the affected vehicles. BMW started its intense customer outreach efforts in 2016 and has addressed about 87 percent of the affected vehicles.
The cars were manufactured with faulty airbag inflators that contained a propellant that breaks down after long-term exposure to temperature fluctuations. This can cause the airbag inflator to rupture, sending sharp metal fragments toward occupants. As of late last year, faulty airbags have resulted in 30 deaths worldwide, including 24 in the US. Five people were killed in 2022 alone, and the airbags become more dangerous over time as the propellant deteriorates, increasing the chances of an explosive airbag deployment.
“We cannot state strongly enough just how urgent it is for our customers to take this warning seriously,” said Claus Eberhart, BMW of North America’s vice president of aftersales. “We know these airbags only become more dangerous over time, which is why we are taking yet another step to get these parts out of our vehicles. Customers must park these vehicles immediately and take a few moments to check if their vehicle is safe for them and their family members to drive.”
Customers who own unfixed cars can get them repaired immediately for free. BMW said that the parts are available and can even complete the replacement remotely, with technicians being sent wherever the vehicle is located. If that’s not possible, the automaker can pick up the car, repair it, and return it for free. The procedure typically takes less than an hour.
In recent months, BMW isn’t the only automaker to issue a “Do Not Drive” order to fix Takata airbags. Honda made a similar announcement in February for some 2001-2003 models, including Acura. In November 2022, Stellantis issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for roughly 276,000 Dodge Magnum, Charger, Challenger models, and Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005 to 2010 model years.
To learn more about the Takata airbag recall, owners can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, which has a dedicated page for the issue.