BMW recalls select SUVs citing threat of airbag explosion

BMW is recalling some SUVs in the United States because the driver’s side airbag inflators can explode in a crash and send metal shrapnel that could injure or kill people in the car, safety regulators reported.

The recall covers 486 X3, X4 and X5 SUVs from the 2014 model year that are equipped with airbags made by the Takata Corp. of Japan, The Associated Press reported.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an investigation found similar recall events involving Takata airbag inflators and “abnormal deployment may be due to a production anomaly at the supplier.”

NHTSA said that an analysis into the unexpected air bag deployment is still in the preliminary stages and will continue.

BMW has issued a “Do not Drive” warning for several models that are equipped with the Takata airbags. The company’s website has a feature where customers can type in their vehicle identification number to see if their car is affected.

“If your vehicle is affected by this recall, we encourage you to take immediate action to have your FREE repair completed at your local BMW dealership,” the website said.

Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash but the chemical can deteriorate over time, the AP reported.

The automaker said that temperature and humidity play a role in the deterioration of the chemical compound, or the propellant, inside the airbags.

The company has a map on its website showing which states are declared Zone A, B and C. Zone A states, like California and much of the south, are given top priority in receiving information about the airbag recall. The company said vehicles in Zone A may have unsafe propellant between 6 to 9 years of the car’s manufacturing.

At least 26 people have been killed in the U.S. by the inflators since May 2009. At least 30 people have been killed around the world and about 400 people have been injured, the AP reports.

BMW said it was told of a complaint made to NHTSA that the diver’s airbag ruptured in a 2014 X3. The company investigated but hasn’t determined an exact cause but preliminary information points to a manufacturing problem from February to March 2014, documents from November show.

The NHTSA investigation into Takata airbags covers more than 30 million inflators in more than 200 models including Honda, Stellantis, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Tesla, BMW, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, Daimler Vans, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, Mazda, Karma, Fisker and Spartan Fire cars.

BMW said owners who need to replace their airbags will receive a recall letter starting Jan. 16.

The Associated Press contributed.

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