BMW Recall: 50,000 Sedans, SUVs, and Sports Cars Have Dangerous Braking Defect

Recalls are the worst. This newest BMW recall is a mighty wide-reaching one that is affecting basically every segment. BMW is recalling over 50,000 cars and SUVs from 2019-2021 to address a software issue that is affecting BMWs braking system. 

BMW badge on one of the many cars caught up in the BMW Recall
A BMW logo | Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Which models are affected by the BMW recall? 

According to Consumer Reports, around 50,000 cars and SUVs are wrapped up in the BMW recall. The list of affected models is as follows:

  • 2020 BMW 540i, 540i xDrive, 5,375 vehicles
  • 2020-2021 BMW 745Le xDrive, 470 vehicles
  • 2020 BMW M340i, M340i xDrive, 10,877 vehicles
  • 2020 BMW X3 M40i, 14,006 vehicles
  • 2020-2021 BMW X4 M40i, 4,130 vehicles
  • 2019-2021 BMW Z4 M40i, 2,151 vehicles
  • 2020-2021 Toyota Supra, 13,014 vehicles

Why are so many BMWs being recalled? 

There is an issue within these models’ software that is interfering with the car’s ability to implement braking assists. BMW notes that the problem doesn’t affect the car’s mechanical braking, it just keeps the computer assists from stepping in. This essentially brings BMW braking back a few decades. This problem affects BMW vehicles as well as the Toyota Supra, which is mechanically similar to the BMW Z4 roadster

Drivers may find that the brake pedal is simply not as responsive as they are used to be. This will require harder braking for BMW recalled models. Obviously, this is not ideal or safe as it will lead to longer braking distances. 

As noted by the BMW recall, the problem can be triggered by certain starting conditions. For instance, pressing the engine start/stop button two times in rapid succession or depressing the brake pedal very briefly while pressing the engine start/stop button. Either of these actions can cause the engine management software to damage the oil/vacuum pump supplying the vacuum that enables the brake assist (also called brake boost) function. 

How quickly does this brake assist failure happen? 

2020 Toyota Supra against a red back drop is also included in the BMW recall
A 2020 Toyota Supra | TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

The BMW recall literature says that these software issues can ultimately lead to complete brake boost failure, the vacuum lines that supply the brake boost pressure might retain their pressure for three or four braking actions after the malfunction. 

After a dramatic increase in warranty claims in early 2021, BMW did an internal investigation to find that the problem was likely to affect over 50,000 BMWs as well as the adopted BMW, some Toyota Supras. The fix comes by bringing an affected car back to the dealership to have the engine management software updated. As with all recalls, this work is free of charge to all owners but must be done within a certain time frame. Official BMW recall letters are expected to be sent out by October 1,  2021. Customers who have questions about the BMW recall can call BMW customer service at 800-525-7414. 

How do you know if your car is a part of the BMW recall? 

The NHTSA’s website has a section for looking up cars with open and former recalls. If you go to the site and plugin your BMW’s 17-digit VIN, it will tell you whether or not it falls into that 50,000 with the issue. This website is should be a valued resource by all drivers. 

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