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BMW recalls 1.4M vehicles for fire risk

Vesna Brajkovic

November 7, 2017

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

BMW issued two recalls involving 1,400,000 vehicles between the 2006-2011 model years for potential overheating, with a risk of catching fire even while unattended. 

First Recall

The first recall covers more than 672,700 vehicles where the wiring and electrical connectors for the system that controls air flow for the heating and air conditioning system may overheat, causing them to melt and increase the risk of fire, even when the vehicle is unattended.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Recall Report, this recall involves the blower-regulator wiring harness which controls the blower-motor’s fan speed within the heating and air conditioning system.

"Over time, irregularities in the crimp connection in conjunction with relative movements of the tin-coated connector at the end of the wiring harness, which connects to the tin-coated blower-regulator pin, could lead to frictional corrosion," the reports reads. "In combination with very high current flow, which would occur at maximum blower-motor fan speed, variations in the electrical resistance at this connection could occur, which could lead to a temperature increase. As a result, the blower-regulator wiring could be damaged, and could lead to partial contact of individual wire strands. This could result in an irregular current flow (i.e., short circuit), and also further overheating."   

This recalls includes: 

  • 2006-2011: BMW 3 Series Sedan and Wagon (323i, 325i, 325xi, 328i, 328xi, 330i, 330xi, 335i, 335xi, M3)
  • 2007-2011: BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible (328i xDrive, 335i xDrive, 335is)
  • 2009-2011: BMW 3 Series Diesel (335d)

If this were to happen the heating and air conditioning system may suddenly stop functioning, and there may be a smoke and/or a plastic burning odor noticeable within in the vehicle.     

Second Recall

The second recall covers more than 740,500 vehicles where an electrical short can cause the parts within the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV)  valve to melt, increasing the risk of a fire, even when the vehicle is not in use.

This recalls includes: 

  • 2008-2011: BMW 1 Series Coup and Convertible (128i)
  • 2007-2011:BMW 3 Series Sedan, Wagon, Coupe and Convertible; (328i, 328xi, 328i xDrive)
  • 2007-2011: 5 Series Sedan, Wagon (525i, 525xi, 528i, 528xi, 530i, 530xi)
  • 2007-2011: BMW X3 SAV, X5 SAV; Z4 Roadster, Z4 Coupe (X3 3.0si, X3 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive30i, Z4 3.0i, Z4 3.0si, Z4 sDrive30i)

  This recall involves the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve heater (blow-by-heater) which may not have been produced to specifications, reads the  NHTSA Safety Recall Report.

"Affected vehicles are equipped with a PCV valve that incorporates a heating element consisting of a copper tube, continuously supplied by electrical current, and a Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) element, known as the PCV valve heater (blow-by-heater). The electrical contacts at the copper tube, and the tube itself, are coated with a plastic material. Irregularities in the manufacturing process at the supplier could lead to cavities in the area of the electrical contacts, and near the PTC element at the copper tube, which could allow moisture to occur and could lead to a short circuit."

If this were to happen the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) will typically turn on, smoke may be noticeable from the area near the engine compartment, and there may be a smoke, or a plastic burning odor. 

For both recalls, if necessary, dealers will replace the wiring and electrical connector or PCV valve heater free of charge beginning Dec. 18.