Eight months into an ongoing investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that 16 crashes and five injuries were related to a transmission issue in some BMW models. According to the NHTSA, the problem can lead to a parked vehicle rolling away.
Under investigation since August
The federal regulation agency has been looking into the Munich Germany-based Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s 7-Series luxury sedans since last August. The agency says it was prompted by 50 U.S. complaints about the issue.
Upgraded to an engineering analysis
Now, having determined that the problem under investigation was responsible for injuries, the NHTSA is moving on to an analysis of the vehicle’s engineering in order “to further assess the potential safety consequences of the alleged defect.” An engineering analysis is another step closer to issuing a formal recall.
Cars could roll away when parked
Roughly 122,000 BMW Series 7 vehicles, from model years 2002-2008, would be affected, should a recall become a reality. The vehicles in question all have push-button stop-start switches, as well as electronic transmission controls. Under certain circumstances, a driver may walk away from his or her vehicle, believing it is in park, when in reality, it is in neutral. If on a grade or slope, these vehicles could roll away, leading to potential property damage and injuries.
Not noted in driver’s manual
The models in question all have automatic transmissions, and they all utilize a small shifter mounted on the steering column to change gears. According to BMW, although it is not noted in the car’s manual, when the car is running in drive or reverse it can be switched to neutral by pressing the start-stop button two or three times within a half-second’s time.
Another situation that could cause the car to move unknowingly into neutral is if it is running in park and the driver moves the shifter up and down.
Dave Butchko, a U.S. spokesman for BMW, said:
“BMW is fully cooperating with NHTSA on the engineering analysis.”
Series 7 Recall effort
Also this week, BMW said that it would be recalling some later-model Series 7 cars along with a slew of other BMW and Rolls-Royce models. The vehicles are being recalled for a faulty water pump in the turbocharger cooling system. According to the federal regulators, the issue could lead to an engine fire.