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BMW recalls 312,000 cars in UK

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BMW is to recall just under 312,000 cars sold in the UK over an electrical issue that can leave them without any power.

BBC1’s ‘Watchdog’ consumer programme has this week highlighted cases of BMWs cutting out suddenly while being driven, while the issue has also been linked to the death of a motorist on the night of Christmas Day 2016 when he swerved to avoid a broken-down BMW that was displaying no lights.

The recall affects BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 and X1 models, both petrol and diesel, and all built between March 2007 and September 2011. It is an extension of a recall first issued in February 2017 for 36,410 cars.

According to BMW, the affected cars are fitted with “a design of wiring that means vehicle vibrations could potentially cause frictional corrosion on the plug of the power distributor.”

Effectively this means the car’s battery and fuse box being cut off from each other, with the result that all electrical power is disabled. The car can break down and the driver not be able to use lights or hazard flashers to warn other motorists of their issue.

An inquest into the death of former serviceman Narayang Guran, aged 66, heard that his Ford Fiesta hit a tree in Guildford, Surrey after trying to avoid the BMW.

Issue dates from 2011

The inquest received information that BMW had first been alerted to an electrical issue in 2011, which led to the UK Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency issuing a request to ensure the safety of BMW cars in February 2016. However while there were recalls in the US, Australia, Canada and South Africa, no cars were recalled in the UK until after the accident to Gurung.

BMW told the inquest that a recall had not initially been issued for the fault as it was not considered a critical safety defect, because in most cases owners would be given a warning, such as a car not starting.

However the Gurung family’s lawyer insisted it was a safety issue, pointing out that a total electrical failure would rob the driver of the means to use hazard or head and tail lights to warn other users of their problem.

BMW has now issued a statement in which it says “there may have been some cases of similar power supply issues in vehicles not covered by the original recall. In order to reassure customers with concerns about the safety of their vehicles, we are voluntarily extending the recall.”

Affected owners will be sent a letter within the next three weeks advising them how to have their cars rectified. The replacement of a part will take around two hours and the work will be carried out at no charge.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.