Air Bag Deployment Glitch Triggers Recall of 5,000 BMWs

Laguna Hills, CA – June 14, 2019 – BMW of North America is recalling thousands of 2019-2020 model years passenger vehicles due to a potential air bag flaw that may alter the manner in which it deploys. Specifically, the defect affects the knee air bag assemblies, which may have been errantly folded at some point in the manufacturing process. It’s possible that the air bag may not uncoil completely after a collision, raising the risk of injury.

The recall is expected to begin on July 2 and owners of the affected models are advised to take their automobiles off the roads so they can be serviced – for free – by a licensed BMW dealership.

The Defect

BMW says its pulling 5,079 automobiles from the marketplace – of which include coupes, convertibles and sports wagons – due to improper installation of the knee air bags that are meant to protect the driver as well as the front-seated passenger, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The models include 230I, 330I, 430I, 440I, M2, M240I and M4. Their model years are 2019 and 2020 (the 330I is for 2019 only). It seems that the knee air bag modules, which were manufactured by Joyson Safety Systems, may have been loaded into the vehicles’ housing systems incorrectly. This could prevent the air bag from inflating properly upon impact in a crash that triggers them. Injury may result in such a scenario to the driver, passenger or both.

Timeline of Events

The problem first came to the attention of BMW in mid April. At the time, components manufacturer Joyson Safety Systems alerted the automaker that some of the air bags in several 2019-2020 may have been damaged during compliance testing. JSS came to this conclusion after performing additional examinations to see if the flaw was isolated or potentially widespread. Ultimately, the air bag manufacturer determined that at least several of the knee air bags were not adequately packed in the housing unit.

BMW concluded that it was best to err on the side of caution and initiated a voluntary recall on May 2, which entailed alerting NHTSA to the issue. There are no known injuries that trace back to this flaw.

The Solution

BMW says that it plans on notifying owners by July 2 about the potential problem and will encourage them to have the issue looked at the same place they bought their automobile. If not there, at a licensed BMW dealership. As per usual, the fix will come at no cost to drivers. It may be that a repair is unnecessary, as only about 13% of the recalled models are believed to have the defect. In paperwork filed with NHTSA, BMW suspects that the 4 series coupe models are most likely to be the ones affected, as 2,357 of these vehicles were equipped with knee airbag modules, compared to just 154 for the BMW 3 series sports wagon.

The NHTSA campaign number relating to this recall is 19V-352. Find out more at

Sean ReyesAir Bag Deployment Glitch Triggers Recall of 5,000 BMWs