A British man crashed and subsequently died after he was forced to avoid a broken-down BMW with no lights or power on a dark A-road

The UK’s Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has accused BMW of providing false information of a critical electrical issue in its cars that has recently been linked to a fatal road accident.

The DVSA told Autocar the German car maker knew of 19 cases for an issue that can render a car completely powerless back in 2014, but that it provided “incorrect information” that prevented “an informed decision” from being made to avoid a serious accident.

The issue came to light during an investigation by the DVSA and a subsequent investigation by the BBC’s Watchdog. It is now known that close to 312,000 models, including 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 and X1 petrol and diesel models produced between March 2007 and September 2011, are affected in Britain.

BMW says the problem stems from a "design of wiring configuration that means vehicle vibrations could potentially cause frictional corrosion on the plug of the power distributor". That means a vehicle's battery could lose connection to the fuse box, cutting out the engine and leaving the driver unable to switch on the brake or hazard lights.

In December 2016 Narayan Gurung, a 66-year-old former serviceman, was killed in when he struck a tree in his Ford Fiesta after swerving to avoid a broken-down BMW that had suffered the issue and as a result had no lights on in the dark, since it was without power.

An inquiry for that case ruled that BMW did not respond quickly enough to rectify the issue and potentially prevent the fatality. It revealed that BMW had received complaints of the electrical issue as early as 2011, but the DVSA wasn’t made aware of the problem until October 2014, when a consumer, not the manufacturer, contacted it. At that time, it was estimated that around 370,000 cars could be involved, although BMW had fixed only around five under warranty.

BMW issued a recall for 36,410 UK cars in April 2017, but it has now expanded it to around 311,800 cars so it can issue a parts change free of charge to fix the issue. Owners of affected cars will be contacted in the coming weeks and work is said to take less than two hours.

Pressure is now being placed on BMW to explain why it took so long for a UK recall to be announced. The DVSA’s lead engineer, Andrew Tudor, told BMW's supplier quality engineer Mark Hill that “we do not want a fatality” back in February 2016. The company had already recalled 500,000 cars in the US in 2013, as well as smaller recalls in Australia, Canada and South Africa, to address the problem.

The DVSA said that the misinformation provided to it, added to the fact that (unlike the US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) it currently has no legal power to demand a manufacturer to issue a recall, left it unable to step in and require earlier action.

BMW said that there was initially no large-scale UK recall because there are technical differences between cars in the UK and other markets, as well as differences in technical layouts due to left and right-hand drive. The company said each vehicle type is being investigated, taking into account the climatic and environmental conditions of each region.

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Comments
47

2 May 2018

As if we didn't need reminding how unreliable and poorly designed & engineered BMWs are, this incident now shows that BMWs are inherently dangerous. And what's more shocking is that they knew there was a problem but failed to act on cars in the UK therefore treating the UK public, and their buyers, with contempt. Yet another reason to stop buying their unreliable, rubbish and, now, dangerous cars.

2 May 2018
Roadster wrote:

As if we didn't need reminding how unreliable and poorly designed & engineered BMWs are, this incident now shows that BMWs are inherently dangerous. And what's more shocking is that they knew there was a problem but failed to act on cars in the UK therefore treating the UK public, and their buyers, with contempt. Yet another reason to stop buying their unreliable, rubbish and, now, dangerous cars.

Im sure you speak from plenty of experience.

Right? ; )

2 May 2018

Here goes, new steering rack, 4 sets of new disc brakes, the ECU failed, the alarm system was possessed by Satan, all in 10k miles in a new car.... yes BMWs are not very reliable.

weirdly I have had 4 Alfas with only one technical issue

for balance my current steer a Merc SL R231 has had two exhaust sensors fail and a traction control sensor in first 30k miles... I think the problem maybe crap Bosch sensors

 

2 May 2018
Roadster wrote:

As if we didn't need reminding how unreliable and poorly designed & engineered BMWs are, this incident now shows that BMWs are inherently dangerous. And what's more shocking is that they knew there was a problem but failed to act on cars in the UK therefore treating the UK public, and their buyers, with contempt. Yet another reason to stop buying their unreliable, rubbish and, now, dangerous cars.

oh for Gods sake!!!, what a sweeping statement to make, ive had four and nothing major has ever happened, been reliable well screwed together, service from BMW has been good, making such a go for the throat statement is totally unfounded, maybe you don’t like BMW’s.....?

Peter Cavellini.

3 May 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

Roadster wrote:

As if we didn't need reminding how unreliable and poorly designed & engineered BMWs are, this incident now shows that BMWs are inherently dangerous. And what's more shocking is that they knew there was a problem but failed to act on cars in the UK therefore treating the UK public, and their buyers, with contempt. Yet another reason to stop buying their unreliable, rubbish and, now, dangerous cars.

oh for Gods sake!!!, what a sweeping statement to make, ive had four and nothing major has ever happened, been reliable well screwed together, service from BMW has been good, making such a go for the throat statement is totally unfounded, maybe you don’t like BMW’s.....?

Completely agree Peter. I’ve had a new 3 and 5 series for a total of 5 years. Both were 100% reliable with no faults at all. Dealer service was garbage in Aberdeen unfortunately. One off comments or occasion lemons are not statistically significant, so look to JD Power, AA, etc for a full picture of a brand and model. Of course some people have horrendous lemons, but likewise some do not service cars as they require.

I’ve also rebuilt many cat D cars, and BMWs are a joy to work on as clips and part fit are very good, so the engineering is better than Ford, Peugeot, and Audi that I’ve experienced. 

2 May 2018

Let's put this in to perspective - BMW doesn't care about it's UK customers.

 

As I found out with mine when there's a common fault the US customers will get it fixed, but the British ones won't.   A very simple fix but BMW weren't interested.

 

And BMW knew of the problem for years and did nothing.

 

9 May 2018
Roadster wrote:

As if we didn't need reminding how unreliable and poorly designed & engineered BMWs are, this incident now shows that BMWs are inherently dangerous. And what's more shocking is that they knew there was a problem but failed to act on cars in the UK therefore treating the UK public, and their buyers, with contempt. Yet another reason to stop buying their unreliable, rubbish and, now, dangerous cars.

 

Recalls occur all the time.  Which negative experiences from BMW ownership have you suffered from exactly? Any?

9 May 2018

The defect list on my 2008 335i coupe - 

1 - required injectors replacing twice

2 - turbos had to be replaced with a design fault that imbalances the second turbo

3 - charge tube as part of air intake is constantly breaking but then its cheap plastic

4 - 5 replacement wheels as the OEMs as provided were not fit for purpose on anything other than a perfectly smooth racetrack.

5 - various sensors that are supposed to last the life of the vehicle have to be replaced

6 - the UK dealer network that thinks when it says 24000 miles to a break service in the car, what that really means is that the car needs its brakes fixing immediately.

7 - the wheel set up that wears out the inner tread on tires way, way before it should.

1,2 and 4 were mostly done under warranty, although I had to part pay for the wheels because Germany would not do a recall on the wheels in the UK.

This is my 9th BMW. It will be my last as the quality of the vehicles and their build has franklly collapsed into the same state as the British car industry was in when the Allegro was in production. Equally the dealership network, particularly in Scotland is embarassingly crap.

 

9 May 2018
underdog wrote:

The defect list on my 2008 335i coupe - 

1 - required injectors replacing twice

... Equally the dealership network, particularly in Scotland is embarassingly crap.

 

 

You're lucky not to also need to replace the high pressure fuel pump.   It's a known problem with the 335i.   It and the injectors are warranted out to 10 years in the USA so your car would have been covered.

 

Wheels, yes, they're a problem.   The alloy is too stiff for British roads so are liable to fractures.

 

I found the dealer great when the car was under warranty, but I was visiting so often that the service manager is now on my Facebook friend's list!   Sadly out of warranty those repair bills are far to high and far too often.   All my previous cars put together spent less time in the garage than my one and last BMW.

 

2 May 2018

I'm not usually one for advocating suing, but I certainly hope BMW gets its pants sued off on this one.  As it was brought to their attention, and as they recalled cars in other counries, any lawyer is going to make mincemeat of them in court!

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