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Maintenance problems and age are causes of BMW fires

Dec 04,2019
Six BMWs that caught fire recently ignited for a variety of reasons, none of which were related to the original suspected cause.

Defective exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) components, which were responsible for earlier BMW blazes, were not responsible in these cases.

A 328i and a 5GT caught fire in late October. Through Nov. 3, four more similar incidents occurred. Half of the six vehicles had been recalled for EGR system faults.

A preliminary investigation found that the EGR was not to blame, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Tuesday.

The 328i was a gasoline model that didn’t even have an EGR system installed, while other vehicles had no EGR problems.

In the case of the 328i, poor maintenance of the catalytic converter was to blame. According to the ministry, the owner of the car used an independent maintenance center rather than an authorized BMW service center.

Several of the vehicles, including the 5GT, are suspected of having problems with the diesel particulate filter trap, while others had problems with their turbochargers.

The findings were similar to those reported by BMW Korea early last month.

The German automaker’s Seoul office released a statement where it stressed that the models in question were not only old but also poorly maintained. It mentioned repairs at unauthorized shops.

The company noted that the 328i was a 2009 model, had been driven more than 180,000 kilometers (112,000 miles) and had 10 different owners. It also stressed that there was evidence that some welding was not done by BMW-trained technicians, which could lead to high temperatures.

It added that other vehicles that recently caught fire were also improperly maintained, including the 5GT, which had been driven more than 300,000 kilometers, was in five accidents and had been repaired by unauthorized shops, while a 640d was repaired after it was submerged in water during a typhoon and was supposed to be scrapped.

BMW Korea said 37 BMWs caught fire in the first 10 months of the year, which is a 57 percent drop from the same period last year. It added that the 37 cases only accounted for 0.93 percent of the 3,967 vehicle fires in Korea.

In the summer of 2018, 40 BMWs caught fire, and 170,000 cars were recalled, while consumers sued company executives, including BMW Korea Chairman Kim Hyo-joon, for allegedly covering up the faulty emissions reduction system.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]