BMW recalls models with faulty occupant detection features


Westwood, N.J. – July 6, 2017 – BMW North America has recalled more than 2,100 vehicles potentially equipped with defective passenger detection features, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Association. This campaign, which is an amendment to an earlier recall conducted in November 2013, affects a number of BMW models, including:

  • 2006 325i, 325xi, 330i and 330xi sedans
  • 2006 325xi station wagons
  • 2006 525i, 525xi, 530i, 530xi and 550i sedans
  • 2006 530xi station wagons

BMW estimates that 6 percent of the total vehicles named in the recall contain the defective components.

The Defect

The vehicles included in this recall may come equipped with occupant detection mats susceptible to microcracking. These structural fissures could interrupt the conductive pathways within the mats and cause complete fixture failure. In this scenario, passenger safety features such as air bags would fail to deploy in the event of a crash. This poses serious risks to passengers, who could be left unprotected should a serious accident occur.

BMW has yet to receive reports connecting the defect to accidents or injuries.

Timeline of Events

In 2008, BMW conducted recalls in Canada and the U.S. to address nonworking passenger detection mats, according to internal documents submitted to the NHTSA. The car company also introduced new mat models featuring alloy into production facilities. Four years later, the Canadian transportation department contacted BMW regarding customer complaints surrounding the improved detection mats. From November 2012 to March 2013, BMW engineers reviewed the complaints and the associated vehicles and determined that the alloy mats were defective. In April of that year, the automaker initiated a recall campaign in Canada.

One month later, it launched an investigation in the U.S. to determine if American owners were also dealing with problematic passenger detection mats. While initial NHTSA database surveys yielded low numbers of warranty claims related to the defect, a more exhaustive review conducted in August 2013 revealed claim rates similar to those in the Canadian market. With this data in hand, BMW decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall in the U.S.

In April 2017, the NHTSA reached out to BMW and requested information on models named in the 2013 recall. The agency realized that some of these vehicles had been mentioned in recent customer complaints regarding passenger detection mats. BMW and the NHTSA came to the conclusion in May that some 2006 models had been left out of the 2013 campaign. Over the coming weeks, both parties analyzed production data and assembled a definitive list of vehicles whose passenger detection equipment needed to be replaced.

On June 28, BMW launched a voluntary safety recall to address these remaining models. The car company notified dealers July 6.

The Solution

BMW has ordered dealers to replace the passenger detection mats in affected vehicles free of charge. The automaker will reach out to owners Sept. 1 via first-class mail. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact BMW customer service at (800) 524-7417 or call the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.

adminBMW recalls models with faulty occupant detection features