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Automaker announces safety recall focused on air bag problem

Heads up if you're an Illinois motorist who drives a BMW 3 Series car manufactured between 2000 and 2006. You're likely to get -- if you haven't already received -- a recall notification from the dealership where you purchased your vehicle informing you of a potential air bag problem.

And not just any problem. The German-based automaker is recalling about 1.6 million vehicles to attend to a safety issue and product liability concern involving front-seat passenger-side air bags that could be deadly in some instances.

The maker of the airbag is the Japanese companyTakata Corporation, labeled as "troubled" in a recent New York Times article discussing the recall. Takata makes air bags for a number of global vehicle manufacturers, and many of those automakers have been forced to issue large-scale recalls in recent years. In f act, manufacturing issues owing to Takata's workmanship have reportedly led to more than 10 million recalls.

The most recent BMW recall will obviously add substantially to that total, with about 574,000 cars being recalled in the United States.

Here’s the problem. According to BMW, an explosive propellant that operates inside air bags to inflate them upon impact could in some instances be too powerful. The result could be that fragments -- described as “metal shards” -- might be released with such force that they blow through an internal metal casing and strike passengers.

The BMW recall is focused only upon passenger-side air bags, although there is a history of problems also associated with driver-side bags. At least two motorists were reported as killed in the United States when the air bags in Honda cars they were driving malfunctioned, with shard fragments striking them.

Source: The New York Times, “BMW recalls 1.6 million cars over defective Takata air bag part,” Christopher Jensen, July 16, 2014

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