BMW Recalls More Than a Million Cars, Most for the Third Time, Over Engine Fire Risk

The luxury carmaker says a "remedy is being developed."

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Dan Avery

More than 900,000 BMWs in the US are being recalled over an issue that could cause an engine fire.

Josef Cubes

German carmaker BMW is recalling more than a million vehicles worldwide, citing an issue with its engine ventilation system that can cause it to catch fire.

Approximately 917,000 sedans and SUVs in the US are being recalled, along with an additional 98,000 cars in Canada and 18,000 in South Korea, a BMW spokesperson told Bloomberg.
According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the cars are vulnerable to an electrical short in their positive crankcase ventilation valve heater. That irregularity can, over time, lead to overheating and even cause a fire -- whether the car is parked or being driven.

BMW didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The company indicated in documents that a "remedy is being developed," likely ready by mid-2022. 

The recall, announced Wednesday on the NHTSA website, covers many 3 Series, 5 Series, 1 Series, X5, X3 and Z4 vehicles produced between 2006 and 2013 -- most of which were subject to prior recalls.

According to BMW, if a driver smells smoke or burning plastic -- or sees smoke wafting from the engine -- they should pull over to a safe location, shut off the engine and exit the vehicle.

The first fire was observed in 2019, but it was assumed to be an isolated incident, according to the NHTSA recall report. By early 2021, six more incidents had been reported. 

The automaker says that although fires have been rare, it began a voluntary recall last week. Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by letter starting April 25.