Westwood, N.J. – Oct. 24, 2017 – BMW of North America has recalled more than 85,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective front passenger-side occupant detection mats, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2006-2010 BMW X-3 sport utility vehicles with production dates ranging from Nov. 20, 2005 to Aug. 31, 2010. The German automaker suspects roughly 9 percent of the models referenced in the recall contain the defective features.
The vehicles named in this campaign could contain front passenger-side occupant detection mats prone to fatigue-based cracking. BMW engineers speculate that high volumes of passenger entries and exits, combined with the dimensions of the vehicle floor board area, lead to the development of micro-fissures that eventually interrupt underlying conductive pathways and cause complete failure of the occupant detection system. This poses a serious hazard to passengers, as such a failure may inhibit air bag activation in the event of a crash. However, BMW has not received reports linking the defect to any accidents or injuries.
Drivers of vehicles with the defective feature often see the passenger air bag off light illuminate, indicating the deactivation of the detection system.
Timeline of Events
In 2008, BMW launched a recall to address defective occupant detection mats installed in vehicles across the U.S. and Canada, according to the NHTSA. The car company introduced a strengthened alloy mat to prevent instances of conductive pathway interruption stemming from wear and tear. Four years later, BMW began fielding owner complaints the pertaining to the improved mat. In these reports, drivers indicated that the new fixtures continued to experience cracking and caused occupant detection system failure. The car company reviewed and validated the complaints, and then issued another voluntary recall Nov. 4, 2013. This campaign affected more than 76,000 vehicles, many of which received newly improved mats made to withstand higher external force application.
In July 2017, BMW issued an amendment to its earlier action, recalling another 2,158 models containing the defective passenger detection mats, according to the NHTSA. These vehicles also received the redesigned mats.
On April 17, 2017, NHTSA personnel contacted BMW and made the company aware of new vehicle owner questionnaires mentioning the defective occupant detection features addressed in the earlier campaigns. The automaker launched an engineering review that included claims analysis and component review activities. On Sept. 21, BMW quality and safety staff reviewed the results of this inquiry and chose to conduct a voluntary safety recall.
The car manufacturer notified owners Sept. 28.
BMW has directed owners to replace the front passenger-side occupant detection mats in affected vehicles free of charge, according to a recall acknowledgment document. The company intends to notify owners via first-class mail Nov. 20. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417. Owners can also contact the NHTSA directly using its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.