Achtung, Baby: BMW Recalls a Million Cars Over Fire Risk

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
achtung baby bmw recalls a million cars over fire risk

BMW announced Friday it is recalling nearly one million cars and SUVs in North America. The recalls are for two separate issues which may cause the same problem: an under-hood fire.

It looks like the mystery surrounding a rash of widely reported blazes is solved, at least for some vehicles involved.

The first recall covers 672,775 3-series vehicles from the 2006-2011 model years. An issue in the HVAC system could cause some of its wiring to overheat, increasing the risk of conflagration. Apparently, the electrical wiring and connectors for the part of the system which controls airflow is the offending part.

Approximately 12,107 vehicles were equipped with a blower-regulator wiring harness in which the connectors at the ends of the harness are coated with tin. This could lead to fretting corrosion at its connection to the blower-regulator. Overheating wiring can happen at any time, even when the car is unattended, says the manufacturer. BMW received four incident reports related to this issue, with three reports of injuries.

Clues that something is awry include, but are not limited to, the acrid smell of burning plastic. With winter just around the corner, and with it the proclivity for drivers to turn heaters on full in an effort to defrost windows and thaw out their toes, drivers should get this problem fixed as soon as possible.

BMW will notify owners of affected cars – which range from the 2006 323i to the 2011 M3 – by mail within the next month. Dealers will replace the sparky bits free of charge. Action on this recall is expected to begin near the middle of December.

The other recall is for 740,561 1-series, 3-series, 5ers, X3s, and X5s built in the 2007-2011 model years. A few Z4s are included in this recall, too. In these machines, a heater for the PCV valve may overheat, causing the valve to melt. Since the valve is generally bathed in a mist of motor oil, this presents a risk of fire. Owners of these affected vehicles should expect to see communication from the automaker by mail around December 18.

Given that either of these issues could flare up even when the vehicle is not in use, owners are recommended to get their machines checked immediately. If necessary, dealers will replace the heater in affected vehicles. BMW says no injuries have been reported for this issue.

According to BMW filings submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, analysis indicated that most vehicles “age-out” of the possibility of the PCV issue occurring and that if a vehicle were to experience the issue, it would typically occur between two and eight years of the vehicle’s age. Prior to the two year period, and subsequent to the eight year period, the likelihood of the issue occurring is low. It still leaves a lot of vehicles in that timeframe, though, so be sure to gets yours checked if it’s affected.

The mathematically-minded amongst us will no doubt realize that the two volumes of cars noted above actually adds up to nearly 1.3 million vehicles. The total number of cars recalled is actually in the 1 million range, as there is a bit of overlap between the two campaigns. Some 3-series cars of affected model years may need attention for both recalls.

Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417. The NHTSA Campaign Number for the HVAC recall is 17V-676; the NHTSA Campaign Number for the PCV valve recall is 17V-683.

Join the conversation
3 of 12 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 04, 2017

    But BMW is switching to electromobiles - there is nothing to burn.

    • SPPPP SPPPP on Nov 06, 2017

      Riiiiight. We probably imagined all those exploding Samsung phones.

  • Redapple Redapple on Nov 06, 2017

    I was in the market for a X-5 or Volare. But, European car quality is so sketchy i ll just get a Subie or something. ( 10 years ago, my new Land Rover was in the shop 3 times - unscheduled. Why bother. Pay 2x as much and get nothing but hassles.)

  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.