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BMW recalls 85,000 X3 SUVs for potential airbag problems

The issue isn't with the airbag system itself, but a component connected to it.


Have you ever encountered the situation where a heavy-enough item on the passenger seat causes the seat belt warning to go off? That's the component behind BMW's latest recall.

BMW has issued a recall for 85,302 examples of the 2006-2010 X3 SUV. It applies to the 2.5i, 3.0i and xDrive30i variants, with build dates between Nov. 20, 2005, and Aug. 31, 2010. BMW estimates that only 9 percent of recalled vehicles will have the defect in question.

In the meantime, just don't get into any collisions. Easy peasy, right?


The defect occurs in the front passenger seat occupant detection mat. This is used to determine whether or not a human is occupying the passenger seat. It will disable the airbag if there's nobody riding shotgun, as well as the annoying seat belt chime. In this case, the X3's mat may grow defective over time, eventually failing to register humans in the seat.

If that happens, the airbag might not deploy in a crash, which could greatly increase the risk of injury. Thankfully, occupants will know this ahead of time, as the airbag warning light will illuminate, as well as the light that lets the driver know whether the passenger airbag is active or inactive.

Fixing the problem is pretty straightforward. Dealers will replace the seat mats on affected vehicles for no charge. Those who have already paid for this remedy can file for reimbursement with the automaker. Owners will be notified by first-class mail starting on Nov. 20.