By Gabe Nelson, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (Feb. 19, 2013) — BMW A.G. has told safety regulators it will recall about 570,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because of a faulty battery cable connector that can fail and cause an engine to stall.
A total of about 750,000 vehicles are being recalled globally, Bloomberg reported Feb. 18. That figure includes about 100,000 units in Japan and 50,000 in South Africa.
The North American recall includes certain 3-series coupes, sedans, convertibles and wagons from 2007 through 2011, as well as 1-series coupes and convertibles from model years 2008 through 2012 and Z4 roadsters from 2009 though 2011.
In a Feb. 7 filing made public Feb. 17 on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) website, the German auto maker said it will notify owners of the defect and allow them to replace the battery cable connectors for free at dealerships, starting in March.
The 3 series is BMW's top seller and is the No. 1-selling luxury car in the U.S., with 99,602 of all variants sold in 2012. The recall affects almost 450,000 of the 3-series nameplate in the U.S. alone.
BMW said the problem stems from a tin-coated connector that links the positive battery cable and the fuse box in each of the models. The coating can degrade over time until it disrupts the flow of power and stalls the engine.
BMW says it learned of the defect in July 2010 after receiving a pair of case studies on repairs performed in the U.S.
The auto maker later received three complaints from Canadian regulators of incidents where the defect caused vehicles to lose power. One of the incidents led to a minor crash, but no injuries.
The recall includes 504,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. and 65,000 sold in Canada.
BMW said it has already started using a silver coating instead of tin in new vehicles. The company said that when dealers repair the recalled vehicles, they will also use a different installation technique that will make the connector better at handling vibrations.
In a statement, BMW said once it "distributes the necessary replacement parts to authorized BMW centers, customers with affected vehicles will receive a letter via First Class Mail asking them to schedule a service appointment."
The auto maker said customers with further questions should contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-525-7417 or email [email protected].
The Associated Press reported the recall over the weekend.
In another recall notice released Feb. 16 by NHTSA, BMW said it will recall 30,265 X5 crossovers in the U.S. because a valve near the brakes can leak lubricating oil, harming the power braking system.
The brakes still met safety standards in that condition. However, BMW noticed an uptick in warranty claims and decided to recall 8-cylinder X5 vehicles from 2007 to 2010 after an analysis found that the number of warranty claims was likely to continue rising.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.