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BMW Recalls 1.6 Million Cars for Air Bag Defect

Jul 18, 2014

German automaker BMW announced on Wednesday that it would recall about 1.6 million cars in its 3 Series sedans worldwide. Seven major auto makers are involved in the effort to replace potentially dangerous passenger-side front air bags.

BMW said the recall is voluntary. It will replace air bags that could explode under certain circumstances. Since 2009, air bag problems have led to the recall of 10 million vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last month, major auto makers, including Honda, Nissan, and Mazda, recalled 2.9 million vehicles because of the air bag defect.

The auto makers must fix potentially defective air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. Takata, based in Tokyo, is one of three major manufacturers of air bags and it supplies components to auto makers around the world. Individual car makers save money on parts because of large manufacturers’ economies of scale but when there is a problem, the result can be a large-scale recall, the WSJ explains.

Takata says it knows of at least six incidents in which the cylinder-shaped inflators exploded, sending metal fragments flying. In one incident, a one-inch piece of metal propelled from an exploding air bag hit the driver of a 2005 Honda Civic in the right eye of the, causing loss of sight and facial lacerations that needed 100 stitches, according to The WSJ.

About a third of the recalled BMWs (574,000) are in the U.S., the auto maker said. BMW said the recall affects the model years 2000 to 2006, according to the WSJ. BMW will replace the passenger-side front air bags for the 3 Series cars produced between May 1999 and August 2006, excluding 42,000 vehicles that were already recalled in May 2013 in the U.S.

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