BMW Car Fires: More fires reported in parked cars while engines off

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There are new questions surrounding mystery fires involving some BMW's and Mini Coopers; both made by automaker BMW.

There are new questions surrounding mystery fires involving some BMW's and Mini Coopers, both made by automaker BMW. The ABC 7 I-Team and ABC News uncovered new cases of parked car fires, without fire-related recalls.

ABC 7 Consumer Investigator Jason Knowles and ABC News first told you about the fires starting in parked cars in 2017. But what is the manufacturer doing to address what looks like an ongoing problem?

"I was trying not to freak out because I was nine months pregnant," said Maggie Latona. She watched in shock as her 2016 Mini Cooper turned into a fireball.

The car was parked in her parent's Naperville driveway in March of 2018. She said it was not running. A Naperville Fire Department report said the blaze appeared to have started in the engine. The report states that, "due to the severity of the damage...investigators were unable to determine the exact cause of the fire."

Latona said BMW gave her a discount to get a different model BMW which she cashed in on, but her family's Naperville home was also damaged and the strong blaze spread to two other nearby vehicles.

"None of this was our fault," she said.

Latona's father Edward showed the I-Team a "release letter" from BMW offering the family a payout of almost $2,000. The family said the amount would cover insurance deductibles for the home and the two other cars. But, they said, they would prefer BMW to cover the cost of everything so they didn't have to file insurance claims, which can raise rates or risk insurance eligibility.

The family said they won't sign the release letter because of a confidentiality clause which would prevent them from publicly sharing their story.

"My family kinda got the short end of the stick with this," Latona said.

The family also turned down another $3,500 in credit towards another BMW vehicle to help them replace one of the other cars, also a Mini Cooper, which was damaged in the driveway.

ABC News and the ABC 7 I-Team have uncovered more than 50 BMW fires where the owners said their cars were parked with their engines off. Latona and those other families are upset because none of those cars had been recalled for any fire related issues at the time of the incidents. However, BMW has issued over 10 fire-related recalls in the past decade.

"BMWs have these fire problems for a very long time," said Jason Levine, executive director at the watchdog group The Center for Auto Safety. "They've taken a very long time to respond to them. And it doesn't seem that they're getting to the bottom of the problem."

Levine said BMW and the government should be doing more.

"I think what is particularly scary is that there's no watchdog out there that BMW is afraid of," he said. "The way this should work is, they should be concerned about their bottom line being safety for consumers and NHTSA coming after them if they need to."

NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has over 90 complaints of parked BMW fires filed on its database. The organization said they have no current investigation into the fires. Instead, NHTSA said it's "in close contact with BMW in its oversight of the automaker's recalls that involve a potential fire risk, and will take appropriate action if warranted."

BMW representatives declined interviews but in statements they have said that with over 4.9 million cars on the road "fire incidents involving BMW's are very rare," and that "BMW takes every incident very seriously..." And they stated that "vehicle fires can result from a wide variety of external reasons unrelated to product defects."

"I would have never gotten that car if I would have known this could happen," Latona told the I-Team.

In the months following ABC 7's investigation 2017 investigation, BMW issued three fire related recalls affecting over 1 million vehicles. Latona's Mini Cooper model was not one of them. This past December, BMW notified users of another recall but despite these recalls, fire have continued.

Click here to watch ABC's Nightline investigation here

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Customers with questions may contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-525-7417, or email CustomerRelations@bmwusa.com.
RECALL Subject: PCV Heater may Short Circuit
Report Receipt Date: OCT 30, 2017
NHTSA Campaign Number: 17V683000
Component(s): ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING
Potential Number of Units Affected: 740,561
Manufacturer: BMW of North America, LLC
SUMMARY: BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain 2008-2011 128i and 2007-2011 328i, 328xi, 328i xDrive, 525i, 525xi, 528i, 528xi, 530i, 530xi, X3 3.0si, X3 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive30i, Z4 3.0i, Z4 3.0si and Z4 sDrive30i vehicles. The heater for the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve may short circuit.
CONSEQUENCE: An electrical short can cause the parts within the PCV valve to melt, increasing the risk of a fire, even when the vehicle is not in use.
REMEDY: BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the PCV valve heater, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 18, 2017. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.
NOTES: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
Check if your car is included in the recall by entering your VIN number here.
RECALL Subject : Blower Motor Wiring may Overheat
Report Receipt Date: OCT 25, 2017
NHTSA Campaign Number: 17V676000
Component(s): ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
Potential Number of Units Affected: 672,775
Manufacturer: BMW of North America, LLC
SUMMARY: BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain 2006-2011 323i, 325i, 325xi, 328i, 328xi, 330i, 330xi, 335i, 335xi and M3, 2007-2011 328i xDrive, 335i xDrive and 335is and 2009-2011 335d vehicles. The wiring and electrical connectors for the system that controls air flow for the heating and air conditioning system may overheat.
CONSEQUENCE: Wiring that overheats could cause the electrical connectors to melt, and increase the risk of a fire, even when the vehicle is unattended.
REMEDY: BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the wiring and electrical connectors, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 18, 2017. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.
NOTES: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
Check if your car is included in the recall by entering your VIN number here.

If you are part of the recall, dealers will replace parts free of charge.

If you own a BMW you should also look out for a notice in the mail.

May 2018 recall
According to the automaker, there is an auxiliary water pump that could fail on the affected vehicles, causing a circuit board to overheat. As a result, the overheating circuit board could lead to a fire. Dealers will replace the electric auxiliary water pump at no charge, but replacement parts are not currently available. BMW says it will begin notifying owners of affected vehicles starting June 11, 2018 and a second notification will be sent out when replacement parts are available. In the meantime, the automaker is recommending that affected owners park their vehicles outdoors until the recall work can be performed.
SEE ALSO: BMW M2 Competition Gets Some Radical M Performance Parts

Affected BMW vehicles include certain 2011-2012 550i, 550i xDrive, 550i Gran Turismo, 550i Gran Turismo xDrive750i, 750Li, 750i xDrive, 750Li xDrive, 760Li, X5 xDrive50i, X5 M, X6 xDrive50i, X6 M, and ActiveHybrid7, as well as certain 2011 X6 Hybrid and 2012 650i Coupe, 650i xDrive Coupe, 650i Convertible, and 650i xDrive Convertible.
The affected MINI models include certain 2011-2012 Cooper S Convertible, John Cooper Works (JCW) Convertible, Cooper S Countryman, Cooper S Countryman ALL4, Cooper S, JCW Cooper S Clubman, JCW Clubman, Cooper S Roadster, JCW Roadster, Cooper S Coupe, and JCW Coupe. Certain 2011-2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost vehicles are also affected.
Related Topics:
automotiveI-TeamconsumerBMWcar fireNaperville
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