BMW to replace air bags on 3-series cars

BMW adds to earlier recalls, saying passenger side airbags might explode on deployment.

The automobile airbag crisis continues.

BMW expanded a May 2013 recall announcement, calling back all of its 3-series cars built between 2000 and 2006. The recall affects as many as 1.6 million vehicles worldwide, 574,000 of them in the United States.

The company fears that a flaw in the passenger-side protection system may cause the airbags to break apart on deployment, resulting in injuries. BMW said it had informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the recall, which originally focused on 42,000 3-series vehicles.

The company said the airbags had "potential problems," occurring in "rare cases."

Nevertheless, BMW said it would replace the passenger-side airbags in all the affected vehicles and would notify owners by mail.

BMW is one of a group of automakers, including Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler and Mazda, that use airbags made by Japanese parts producer Takata Corp. That company's defective airbags have now resulted in the recalls of more than 3 million motor vehicles in the U.S. alone.

As the Times has reported, the air bag problem is associated with the protection system's inflator apparatus, and is used in millions of vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW.

NHTSA said a canister in the system can explode, spraying metal shards throughout the cabin.

Honda said last month it will replace inflators on 2 million vehicles, mostly in Florida, Puerto Rico and other regions with high humidity. Nissan is calling back about 228,000 vehicles in the U.S. Toyota recalled 766,000.

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