BMW is recalling more than 1.4 million cars and SUVs in two U.S. recalls due to the risk of fires under the hood. According to a USA Today news report, a spokesman for the German automaker says the risk of fire is very low in both cases, but that the vehicles should be parked outside “in an abundance of caution.” In both recalls, the repairs are expected to start on Dec. 18.
Details of the Recall
Documents posted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a heater for the positive crankcase ventilation valve can overheat and cause the valve to melt, increasing the risk of a fire even when the vehicle is not in use. So far, no injuries have been reported. When the recall begins, dealers will replace the defective heater. The heater is apparently designed to prevent the valve from freezing in cold temperatures. However, irregularities in manufacturing can cause corrosion that can lead to overheating.
In the second recall, which covers nearly 673,000 cars, the wiring for the heating and air-conditioning system can overheat and cause connectors to melt, also increasing the fire risk even when vehicles are parked. Four drivers reported injuries in connection with these vehicle defects. BMW says a wiring connection can corrode in rare cases and cause fires. When the recall begins, dealers will replace the wiring and connectors in these vehicles.
Fire Risk and Liability Issues
According to the National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA), there were about 174,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. in 2015. These vehicle fires resulted in 445 deaths and 1,550 injuries, the agency states. The most common injuries that cause disabilities, disfigurement and death in vehicle fires are burns and smoke inhalation injuries. When a vehicle catches fire, occupants should be able to exit the vehicle immediately.
When seatbelt buckles and restraint systems malfunction in such cases, occupants may get trapped in the vehicle. When vehicle fires occur, it is important to preserve the vehicle so an expert can determine whether any vehicle defects, malfunctions or design flaws caused or contributed to the fire or the occupants’ injuries.
Any time a vehicle is recalled for a fire risk, it would be in your best interest to not park it in an enclosed garage, but leave it outside until the repairs are completed. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective auto, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Contact a reputed auto defect law firm that will be able to fight for your rights and hold the negligent automakers or parts manufacturers accountable.