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BMW pays $3 million in US safety fines

The Local · 11 Feb 2012, 10:40

Published: 11 Feb 2012 10:40 GMT+01:00

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Federal safety regulators launched an investigation in 2010 after noting a "troubling trend" in which "BMW appears to maintain a practice, by design or habit, in which it provides little information in its initial filings."

The initial reports were missing critical information such as plans to remedy the problem and it took BMW over 30 days on average to update the reports with required information, the safety regulator said.

A review of 16 BMW recalls issued in 2010 found "a number of instances" in which the automaker did not comply with federal law, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

While BMW denies that it violated federal law, it agreed to make internal changes to its recall decision-making process in order to "ensure timely reporting to consumers and the federal government in the future."

US law requires automakers to report defects within five days and promptly issue a recall to correct the problem.

"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that defects and recalls are reported in short order," David Strickland, head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, said in a statement.

"NHTSA expects all manufacturers to address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner."

There were no accidents or injuries related to the 16 defects, which affected 339,000 vehicles.

However, the safety regulators said BMW should not have dragged its feet in reporting the problems to regulators and customers.

It noted that only six of the 16 defect reports BMW filed in 2010 included the number of vehicles affected while only five of the initial reports included the required chronology detailing how the defect was discovered.

The fines, while hefty, pale in comparison to the $48.8 million Toyota paid for waiting months to report problems its vehicles had with sticky pedals and sudden, unintended acceleration.

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At least 89 fatalities were linked to the defects, which tarnished Toyota's once-stellar reputation and led to the recall of more than 12 million vehicles worldwide.

BMW did not immediately return a request for comment.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:04 February 11, 2012 by mikel taylor
There were no accidents or injuries related to the 16 defects,?? So what were the defects?? (No Harm No Foul)

Again a lack of information. why even bother with the story or should I say half a story,
21:28 February 11, 2012 by rfwilson
Actually, I read the published list, and the vast majority of "defects" are utterly trivial. Several are for BMW motorcycles like mine, and several of those are also trivial. The US authorities are blowing many of these so-called defects out of all proportion!
09:06 February 12, 2012 by The-ex-pat
The US authorities are blowing many of these so-called defects out of all proportion!

Naturally, every foreign car that is sold is an American one that is not.
10:18 February 12, 2012 by raandy
I was curious about the defects and after reading some of them I agree they should be fined.


I counted 38 nearly identical complaints regarding BMW 335 and 535 models from 2007 to 2010, most of which mentioned problems with the "high-pressure fuel pump" (HPFP) used in these models' engines. Here are three typical ones, with excerpts from the actual consumer complaints (the ODI complaint number is in parentheses):

Engine suddenly shut off. Lost power steering on freeway while going 65 MPH (10304620).

High pressure fuel pump malfunctioned while merging on a freeway on-ramp, resulting in a near rear-end collision as the vehicle suddenly slowed due to the malfunction (10217997).

Malfunctioned coming off of the freeway in Los Angeles resulting in complete loss of power. This has put me and my family's life in danger (10243352).

A failed fuel pump could easily cause an engine to stop running or to run erratically at best. After all, if there's a problem with getting fuel into the engine's cylinders, the motor will be starved, leading it to suffer reduced power, erratic running or potentially stalling out completely. According to NHTSA's safercar.gov site, BMW has not initiated a recall .
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