BMW Reaches $478M Settlement Over Water Damaged Cars

Image courtesy of Norm

More than 300,000 BMW owners will soon be eligible to claim their portion of a $478 million settlement over allegations that a design defect resulted in water damage to electrical components in vehicles’ trunks.

Reuters reports that the settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in New York last week, resolves a class-action lawsuit that claimed the carmaker knew for years about an issue in the affected vehicles that could cause water damage, interferring with the vehicle’s electrical components including lights, speedometer, and wipers, but did nothing to address the problem.

According to the settlement, which covers owners of model year 2004 to 2010 BMW 5 Series vehicles, customers claim the carmaker became aware in 2004 that many of its vehicles contained either a clogged sunroof drainage tube or other issues that allowed water to enter the trunk area.

If this occurred, the electrical components located in the spare wheel well could become damaged.

In a complaint posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s database, the owner of a 2004 BMW 5 Series reports that his vehicle’s iDrive stopped working in June 2013, including his wipers and power engines.

“I was told by the dealer that water got into the sunroof and leaked to the trunk near tire and caused two caskets to turn out,” the complaint states, noting that repairs would cost between $1,650 to $2,950.

The owner of a 2005 BMW 5 Series told NHTSA a similar story in May 2009.

“The sunroof drain clogged causing water to pool in the car and short out the electrical system while I was driving, which resulted in the loss of power to the dashboard including the speedometer,” the owner writes. “My husband inspected the trunk where the water was pooling.. there were relay wires where the water was pooling and heat and steam coming from the area. I”m fairly sure that if we had left it much longer it could have caused a fire.”

As part of the settlement, owners of model year 2004 to 2010 BMW 5 Series sedans are eligible for up to $1,500 in reimbursements for repairs already made.

Additionally, owners of vehicles that have fewer than 120,000 miles and are less than 10 years old may also receive a free inspection and repairs, if applicable.

Reuters reports that BMW has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

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