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2011-2014 BMW X5, X6 recalled over powertrain failure: 122,000 vehicles affected

This morning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted information concerning a recall of nearly 122,000 BMW four-wheel-drive utility vehicles from the 2011 to 2014 model years. 

The recall stems from a problem with the vehicles’ powertrain–specifically, the front driveshaft’s universal joint, which was supplied by IFA Rotorion North America, based in South Carolina. 

Because that component may not have been made to the proper specifications, the seal on the universal joint might not function as intended, allowing water and/or dirt into the joint. If that happens, it can result in excessive wear and corrosion, eventually causing the joint to break.

NHTSA’s defect bulletin explains what that might mean for drivers:

“Should the universal joint break, the drive torque is no longer transmitted to the front wheels. However, the rear drivetrain remains operational and transmits all drive torque to the rear axle comparable to rear wheel drive BMW vehicles. In an extreme case, after prolonged operation of the vehicle with a broken universal joint, damage could occur to adjacent components, which, under certain exceptional circumstances, could eventually render the vehicle inoperative.”

Depending on the severity of the damage and when/where the breakage takes place, the issue could dramatically increase the risk of a crash.

If all that sounds a tad familiar, it’s because recalled over 21,000 vehicles for the same issue last June. Further investigation by BMW led to the realization that additional vehicles were affected by the same problem.

The updated recall affects the following models:

  • 2011-2013 BMW X5 xDrive35i
  • 2011-2013 BMW X5 xDrive50i
  • 2011-2013 BMW X5 M
  • 2011-2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d
  • 2011-2014 BMW X6 xDrive35i
  • 2011-2014 BMW X6 xDrive50i
  • 2011-2014 BMW X6M
  • 2011 BMW x6 ActiveHybrid

All told, the recall includes 121,737 crossovers registered in the U.S. If the universal joint on those vehicles breaks, owners will notice noise and eventually vibration coming from the front drivetrain area. Before the component fails, the noise and vibration will likely increase.

BMW says that it will mail recall notices to owners on or before April 24 of this year. At that time, owners will be able to take their cars to their local dealers, who will replace their front driveshaft at no charge.

If you own one of these vehicles and have additional questions, you’re encouraged to contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417. You can also call NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #17V138000.

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