BMW Gets Extension To Come Up With Takata Replacement Parts

Image courtesy of (Kenny Lannert)

Automakers of cars equipped with defective Takata airbags have just a week to stockpile enough replacement parts to fix the vehicles deemed to be the most at risk for a rupture. That is, all of the carmakers beside BMW, which now has five additional months, after tests of its chosen replacement parts failed safety tests. 

Automotive News reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration extended BMW’s deadline for ensuring it has a sufficient supply of remedy parts for what has been deemed “priority group 1” to no later than August 31, 2016.

In November, NHTSA issued a coordinated remedy order [PDF] to Takata, BMW, and eleven other carmakers establishing a prioritization schedule for the remedy of defective Takata inflators. The order also created deadlines for when the automakers must have enough replacement parts on hand. The first deadline is March 31 and applies to vehicles from the 2008 model year or prior that are located in hot, humid climates.

In all, BMW has about 1.8 million cars affected by the Takata recall, however the extension order only applies to a small fraction of that: 400,000 model year 2002-2006 3-series models, 2002-2003 5-series models, and 2003-2004 X5s equipped with driver side-inflators.

According to the extension order [PDF] from NHTSA, in January BMW experienced an “unexpected failure” during “robustness” tests of inflators chosen replace the Takata PSDI-4 inflators that were being sourced from an alternative supplier.

BMW then stopped production of the alternative supplier’s inflators — which were intended to last the for the lifetime of the vehicle — while it worked to find a solution.

As a result, BMW notified NHTSA in February that it would be unable to meet the March 31, 2020 deadline to have enough replacement parts fix its most at risk vehicles.

“We’re only going to put in safe inflators,” Bryan Thomas, a rep for NHTSA, tells Automotive News. “We’re not going to encourage or allow manufacturers to put unsafe inflators into their vehicles.”

While BMW waits for new inflators, the company is replacing defective inflators with Takata’s version of the replacement. However, those parts will eventually need to be replaced yet again.

The NHTSA rep says that those parts are a “safer” alternative to the original Takata inflators that have been found to rupture with such force they shoot pieces of shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

“We’re not calling them safe, but they’re an interim step until they can get sufficient supply,” of replacement inflators, Thomas said.

BMW gets 5-month extensions on Takata airbag fixes [Automotive News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.