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BMW Korea Raided For Car Fire Cover-Up

BMW Korea is under fire (pun intended) again for sketchy sales practices. Prosecutors allege the automaker covered up issues leading to cars catching fire. BMW Korea’s various locations were raided by the authorities as well as an internet server. 

Fire on the mountain

Carcomplaints reports that BMW Korea sold $56 million of defected cars, according to the Korean authorities. 

A burnt BMW emblem of a vehicle that fell down in a fire is lying in a parking lot of a supermarket
Burnt BMW badge | Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

BMW Korean has been closely watched since 2018 when they had significant issues with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems. BMW Korean recalled 1.6 million cars due to a glycol coolant leak in the EGR system that led to cars catching fire. 

Skating on emissions regulation

Exhaust gas recirculation is a system meant to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. But the coolers needed for this system can create particles that smolder within the cooler, leading to melting intake manifolds and eventually fire. 

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The massive recall made its way to the states including many models: 2013-2018 BMW 328d, 2013-2018 BMW 328d xDrive, 2014-2018 BMW 328d, 2014-2018 BMW 328d xDrive, 2014-2016 BMW 535d and 535d xDrive, 2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive, 2015-2017 BMW X3 xDrive28d, 2014-2017 BMW X5 xDrive35d, according to Carcomplaints.

After this recall, South Korea banned many of the recalled models from the road after 40 fires were reported for these cars. 

They got a rap sheet

This isn’t the first investigation into BMW Korea concerning this issue. After the 2018 recall, BMW was investigated after multiple cars that received the recall repairs still ending up catching fire.

Although three reports came out of cars catching fire after recall repairs, the investigation concluded that the fires were not related to the EGR system. However, the fires were not caused by the EGR this time. Other problems with the turbocharger and diesel particulate cap and other such malfunctions were proven to be the issues in these cases. That doesn’t seem better, but it wasn’t illegal, so BMW Korea was in the clear. 

BMW has a history of this sort of thing, though. In 2019 BMW Korea was fined $19 million (14.5 billion won) and saw six of its officials arrested over emissions fraud. They used fraudulent documents to import 29,000 vehicles that didn’t meet South Korea’s emissions standards. They get hit with a $54 million fine in 2017 for a similar, falsified document infraction. 

So, that brings us back to now. We will have to wait and see how this new investigation goes with BMW Korea. The history of coverups and fraudulent behavior has plagued the last few years of the auto group, but maybe this time it’s different.