BMW Recalling 42,080 E46 3 Series over airbag concerns

by Tim Jones on May 6, 2013, 12:19 pm
BMW E46 airbag recall

BMW has issued a recall for certain 2002 and 2003 E46 3 series models, including the M3. The recall is for the front passenger airbag system produced by Takata for BMW in Moses Lake, Washington. The propellant in the system was not properly compacted and could degrade over time. This increases the pressure inside the airbag system and can results in a dangerous explosion or fire in a crash. BMW is not currently aware of anyone being injured as a result of this issue.

This is recall is part of a wider recall effecting Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota. Takata is the worlds second largest manufacturer of airbags so these production issues have impacted millions of vehicles.

In the US BMW is recalling 42,080 E46s. In Germany, 64,044 vehicles will be recalled. In Britain, 24,272 vehicles will be recalled, followed by Italy at 13,022, France at 10,449, Spain at 9,954 and Japan at 7,890. Read on for the exact details from BMW.

Free Oil Change with Recall Service
For readers in the Los Angeles area Beverly Hills BMW is offering a free oil change while you get the recall service performed. Contact the service department at 877-345-1888 to setup an appointment.

Beverly Hills BMW
Service - 877-345-1888
5151 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Q1. Which models are affected by this Recall?
Affected are certain model year 2002-2003 BMW 3 Series models, including the M3, as follows:

Model Year/Model - Inclusive Dates of Manufacture
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Sedan - Jan 2002-Dec 2002
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Coupe - Feb 2002-Dec 2002
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Convertible - Feb 2002-Dec 2002
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Sports Wagon - Jan 2002-Dec 2002
  • 2002-2003 / M3 Coupe - Feb 2002-Dec 2002
  • 2002-2003 / M3 Convertible - Feb 2002-Dec 2002
Q1a. Is this Recall related to similar Recalls recently announced by Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda?

Q1b. Why did it take BMW extra time to announce a Recall for the same issue? Why did the other vehicle manufacturers announce their Recalls several weeks ago?
The airbag system supplier informed the other vehicle manufacturers of this matter several weeks before they informed BMW of this matter and, in some cases, even earlier. Vehicle manufacturers engage in a similar engineering review and analysis process in order to determine if their vehicles are affected. Because the other vehicle manufacturers were informed by the airbag system supplier several weeks or more before BMW was informed, the other vehicle manufacturers were able to reach their conclusions before BMW was able to reach its conclusion.

Q2. What is the specific problem?
This Recall involves the passenger frontal airbag system. Specifically, the airbag system may have been manufactured with propellant that was not produced to specification. If the propellant was not produced to specification, in a crash in which airbag system deployment is required, the airbag system housing may rupture. If this were to occur, it could cause injury to the vehicle occupants.

Q3. Why are other models not affected?
Other models have a frontal passenger airbag system that was produced to specification.

Q4. How many vehicles are affected?
Approximately 42,080 vehicles in the US are potentially affected as follows:

Model - Approximate Number Affected
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Sedan - 27,440
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Coupe - 4,670
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Convertible - 5,295
  • 2002-2003 / 3 Series Sports Wagon - 1,535
  • 2002-2003 / M3 Coupe - 1,830
  • 2002-2003 / M3 Convertible - 1,300

Q5. What can happen as a result of this issue?
If the airbag system propellant was not produced to specification, in a crash in which airbag system deployment is required, the airbag system housing may rupture. If this
were to occur, it could cause injury to the vehicle occupants.

Q6. Can the driver become aware of the problem?

Q7. What corrective measures will be taken?
The passenger frontal airbag system will be replaced.

Q8. How did BMW become aware of this issue?
BMW became aware of this issue from the airbag system supplier, Takata.

Q9. Is BMW aware of any accidents or injuries associated with the Recall?

Q10. Can customers continue to drive their vehicles?

If you are not the only driver of this vehicle, please advise all other drivers of this important information. If for any reason you need to contact BMW Roadside Assistance, they can be reached at 1-800-332-4269.

Q11. How will customers be informed of the Recall?
Owners will receive a letter via First Class mail asking them to schedule an appointment with their authorized BMW center.

Q12. How will the Recall be performed?
Affected customers who make an appointment will have the passenger frontal airbag replaced.

Q13. How long will the repair take?
This repair may take approximately one hour; however, additional time may be required depending upon the BMW center's schedule. The repair will be performed free of
charge by your authorized BMW center.

Q14. How many vehicles have experienced this problem?
We are unaware of any vehicles that have experienced this problem.

Q15. When will I receive my owner notification letter?
Owners will be notified in May. However, parts will not be available until July; at that time, owners will be notified and instructed to bring their vehicle to their dealer.

Q16. Do I have to wait for my Recall letter in order to have my Recall performed?
Yes. Although an initial Recall notice will be mailed in May, BMW is in the process of implementing the Recall Campaign to ensure that the necessary parts are at the authorized BMW centers prior to instructing customers to take their vehicles in for repair.

Q17. I see the "TREAD Act Customer Reimbursement Plan" attached to my letter. Can you explain what that is about? Am I eligible for reimbursement?
If you have already had this repair performed at your own expense, you may be eligible for reimbursement of certain expenses that you incurred.

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8 responses to BMW Recalling 42,080 E46 3 Series over airbag concerns

Fishful Thinking commented:
May 6, 2013, 3:41 pm

Shouldn't this be stickied?
TannerT commented:
May 7, 2013, 2:11 am

Damnit now I feel obligated to go get this done.
e46_platform commented:
May 7, 2013, 4:22 am

when i bring my car to the dealer for this recall, i wonder what they would say about the little circuit i made underneath the passenger seat to bypass the airbag light
tdd commented:
May 7, 2013, 6:07 pm

Just missed my '02...9/01 mfg date
kbeamer commented:
May 7, 2013, 6:42 pm

How exactly to you find out what month your car was made it? Sure it's something simple. BMW should just do recalls by VIN numbers

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G. P. Burdell commented:
May 8, 2013, 8:49 am

Originally Posted by kbeamer View Post
How exactly to you find out what month your car was made it? Sure it's something simple.
It's very simple. The month and year of production are printed on the VIN label stuck to the driver's door jamb.
FredoinSF commented:
May 8, 2013, 10:12 am

Great info Tim. Mine is within the build dates.

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bluebee commented:
May 8, 2013, 4:59 pm

See also:
- BMW 10-character vehicle defect code lookup tool for dealer service records (1) & how to better understand your 17-character BMW VIN (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) and online BMW VIN decoders (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & what is the definitive list of electronic computer modules that need VIN recoding once replaced (1)


- How to report a BMW safety problem to the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration for a product recall (1) and what E39 safety repair problems have already been reported to the NHTSA (1) & BMW E39 ignition coil recall information (1) & the recall search engine (1) & how to find out if your BMW E39 is involved in a recall (1) (2) (3) (4)