BMW has issued an notice to the owners of 12,663 of its Series 3 cars in Australia, urging them to immediately stop driving their vehicles due to faulty airbags that have been linked to a fatality and a grave injury.
The alert, published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday, is quite unusual for a recall notice. Not only has BMW promised to fix defective cars, but it has explicitly called upon the owners to not get behind the wheel under any circumstances – even to drive them to local dealership for repairs.
“Vehicles will be either towed to the place of inspection or a mobile technician will come to inspect the vehicle at the consumer’s home or the vehicle’s location,” the notice reads.
The culprit behind the recall is an airbag produced by the notorious company Takata, now defunct. Flawed Takata airbags have been plaguing the car industry worldwide since at least 2013.
The new scare was triggered by a recent “death and a serious injury” in two separate crashes in Australia, potentially caused by the “misdeployments of these inflators,” the watchdog said without providing any further details. If confirmed, it will double the toll that Takata airbags have taken on Australia – officially at one death and one injury to date.
To put it simply, the faulty ‘safety implement’ performs actually more like a directional anti-personnel mine, ensuring deaths and/or injuries of the car’s occupants even in a minor traffic accident.
“If a vehicle with an affected airbag is involved in a collision, the airbag inflator could rupture, causing sharp metal fragments to enter the vehicle cabin at high speed and potentially killing or injuring vehicle occupants,” the notice reads.
The Takata airbags have globally caused 24 deaths and more than 260 serious injuries. The airbags used ammonium nitrate to inflate – that was found to degrade after long-term exposure to moisture and heat. The tainted compound turned out to behave more like an explosive than a primer, that ruptures the airbag and its casing instead of inflating it.
BMW’s recall of Series 3 cars, however, involves a new type of Takata airbag that was not deemed hazardous before – which suggests the discovery might lead to further car recalls worldwide.
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