BMW is recalling about 156,000 vehicles equipped with 6-cylinder engines because a defect could cause stalling or engine damage, the automaker said in a news release Thursday. The action comes almost two years after the automaker began fixing the same models in China, according to a report the automaker filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
BMW said “in very rare cases the bolts holding the variable camshaft timing (Vanos) unit housing may become loose or, in extreme cases, break.” In such cases, the driver would be alerted by a check-engine warning light. Power to the engine could be reduced and “if ignored, the problem can become progressively worse, eventually leading to no-start conditions, stalling and engine damage.” Vanos is BMW’s variable-valve timing technology.
The models affected by the recall are the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 5 Series Gran Turismo, X3, X5, X6 and Z4 from the 2010-12 model years, as well as the 2012 6 Series.
The automaker is not aware of any accidents related to the problem, David Buchko, a spokesman for BMW, said in an email.
In its report to N.H.T.S.A., BMW said that in 2011 it had about a dozen warranty claims “for various malfunctions involving the Vanos system.” BMW received some additional complaints in 2012 – sometimes the vehicles stalled, sometimes they didn’t.
In June 2012, as complaints worldwide mounted, BMW began replacing the bolts in Vanos units in China. But the automaker decided not to do the same in the United States “due to the very low rate of occurrence.” However, as more cases of stalling were reported in China, authorities there insisted this month on a safety recall.
BMW says it then decided to conduct a recall in the United States as well. For that recall, it will replace the four bolts suspected of causing the problem on each unit.
The automaker said it was also offering an extended warranty on about 170,000 additional 2010-12 BMW vehicles equipped with 6-cylinder engines. Those “experience much lower rates of Vanos bolt failure, will receive an extended warranty to address this condition.”
A BMW spokesman could not immediately be reached to identify those models and detail the length of the warranty.
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