NHTSA: BMW to recall 603,000 models for power failures

BMW is recalling 570,000 cars in North America for power failures and engine stalling, according to filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An additional 33,000 BMW models are being recalled in South Africa, where a significant percentage of 3-Series models are built and exported to the U.S. The 1M and M3 models are not included.

The battery cable supplying power to the fuse box has a terminal that can wear out over time, particularly due to road vibrations, BMW said. About 504,545 models of the 2008-2012 1-Series, 2007-2011 3-Series and 2009-2011 Z4 are affected in the U.S.

If the battery-cable terminal wears out, “variations in electrical resistance” could occur, which could cause the instrument panel to flicker or the engine to cut power. At worst, the engine could stall completely while driving, or if parked, may not start. Other systems, such as the power steering, would also be affected by the electrical failure.

BMW said it received two U.S. reports of “no-start” problems during July 2010 and additional problems through 2011, when the company switched its terminal coatings from tin to silver to better handle electrical heat. BMW said it continued to fix “occasional warranty claims” for the same issue even after the fix. In Canada in May 2012, BMW said it received multiple owner complaints of the same problem, including a collision allegedly due to an engine stalling.

Dealers will replace the battery-cable connector and secure it to the fuse box with a “vibration-safe method” beginning in March. Owners can contact BMW at 1-800-525-7417 or at CustomerRelations@bm?wusa.com.

In March 2012, BMW recalled 1.3 million cars worldwide to fix improperly mounted battery-cable covers that could cause dead engines, fires or other electrical problems. About 368,000 5- and 6-Series models were recalled in the U.S.

On Friday, BMW recalled 30,265 X5 models to fix brake vacuum lines that could cause the power assist to fail.