BMW Recalls 1.6m Diesels That Just Might Burst Into Flames

Loads of seemingly alright BMWs and MINIs built since 2010 could actually be ticking time bombs.
By Daniel Smith
Cover photo: via Tony Webster.

Do you have a BMW or MINI diesel made in the last eight years? Have you always had a strange feeling that its exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) module was putting it at risk of suddenly being on fire for some reason? Good news, BMW's got the recall for you.

Of course, South Korean onlookers probably won't be too surprised. So many BMWs in the country have been bursting into flames that the government launched an investigation, then forced a recall, then banned affected cars from the roads, then had police raid both BMW's local office and the HQ of a parts supplier. BMW owners responded by launching legal action against the company and its local distributor for, you know, selling them a potential fireball. Bad times.

BMW has always maintained, though, that the problem isn't unique to Korea, even though no other countries seemed to notice all these flaming cars (no, that ABC investigation from last year doesn't count, that was about a different fire risk). So when Korean cars were still catching fire after being recalled, it was only a matter of time before we'd start hearing about fresh recalls.

The running total at the moment is 1.6 million across Europe and Asia, an extra million or so on top of those that had already been recalled earlier in the year. BMW's current explanation is that glycol coolant can leak into the EGR module, combine with other substances (presumably exhaust particles, unless everything's leaking into there) and become combustible at high temperatures. The affected vehicles cover at least 52 different BMW and MINI models built between August 2010 and August 2017.

There's no word yet of whether or not this recall is going to expand to the US. The EGR software used in American vehicles differs from that used in other parts of the world, which could mean they're safe, but if this turns out to be a hardware issue, expect to see the number of cars recalled grow yet again.

Non-diesel cars are fine, by the way.

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