Woodcliff Lake, NJ — December 22, 2015 — A problem with seat cushion replacement parts in some recently-produced MINI Coopers could interfere with safe airbag use. According to documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last month, nearly 40 vehicles suffer from a Capacitive Interior Sensing (CIS) system that could place front seat passengers at greater risk during a crash.
This is because the sensors could improperly register the occupant in the front seat, either activating or deactivating the air bags incorrectly. While a Part 573 Safety Recall report on the issue states that 53 vehicles were originally thought to have received the possibly faulty mats, the number has since been adjusted to 38. There are currently no reports of accidents related to this concern, and vehicles owners will still be able to use the “passenger airbag off lamp.”
The remedy for this recall requires replacing the front passenger seat. Both the report and a “Q&A” document available through the NHTSA explain the reasons behind the defective CIS system.
“The CIS mat is designed to differentiate between an installed child restraint system and an adult occupant,” they state. “In affected vehicles, incorrectly calibrated CIS mats may have been installed in the front passenger seat cushion replacement parts. Occupant classification could be impaired, leading to inappropriate air bag activation/deactivation.”
The Q&A clarifies that owners may still drive their vehicles, as long as they follow instructions from letters prompting them to get service done. Passengers should also avoid sitting in the front seats of vehicles when the “airbag off lamp” turns on.
Affected models in these BMW recalls include MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S autos produced between 2014 and 2015.