Financial news

‘How can my BMW burst into flames despite regular servicing?’

By  | 

Via Yahoo Finance

An NHS doctor has warned other diesel BMW owners to buy the best fire extinguisher they can after his four-year-old car became the latest BMW to spontaneously burst into flames as he drove home from work.

Dr Siddappa Lakshmaiah says he is thankful the rest of his family were not in the car in September when the engine died in the outside lane of a dual carriageway near Sandwich in Kent, and smoke started billowing from under the bonnet.

The consultant radiologist watched in horror as his 2 Series Gran Tourer, for which he paid more than £39,000, was engulfed in flames, leaving a burnt-out wreck.

“You just don’t expect your car to start filling up with smoke. I abandoned everything and was forced to run for the hard shoulder. I was lucky the road was quiet and no one drove into me. While I feel very lucky to be alive, I don’t want to think about what could have happened had my wife and two children been with me. It was horrific,” he says.

He is by no means alone. In July, a seven-month pregnant woman and her partner were forced to flee from their BMW 5 Series car in similar circumstances. Smoke started pouring out of the engine bay, and the fire went on to destroy the car completely.

In both cases, BMW denied liability. The cars were badly enough damaged to make identifying the cause impossible, and BMW claimed that in both cases no manufacturing fault was identified.

Lakshmaiah, who had a full BMW service history and just 35,000 miles on the clock, says he is shocked at the carmaker’s response.

READ ALSO  Uber launches appeal against London licence refusal

In 2018, following a spate of fires around the world, BMW issued a recall of most of its UK diesel models built between 2011 and 2017 – although the exact dates vary according to the model. Fluids were leaking from the engine’s exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler and in rare circumstances it was found they could ignite.

Following 30 engine fires in 2018 alone, the South Korean government threatened to ban about 20,000 unchecked BMWs from using its roads. Most of the fires there were in 5 Series 2.0 litre diesel models – the same engine as in Lakshmaiah’s car.

In the UK, BMW initially recalled 268,000 diesel cars, and last month added 27,000 to the recall. The problem only affects diesel models.

Guardian Money understands that BMW has prioritised the cars at greatest risk, but that more than 150,000 cars that are subject to the recall are still being driven around and yet to have the work done.

Four fires in UK BMWs have been attributed to the EGR problem but that does not include Lakshmaiah’s case, as BMW ruled that the cause could not be properly attributed.

In a statement, it said: “We were sorry to hear of Dr Lakshmaiah’s experience and understand that it must have been a very frightening situation for him. Vehicle fires can be linked to a variety of causes and any incident like this is investigated by BMW as soon as we are informed by the owner or insurer. A thorough inspection of the car was carried out by BMW in the presence of an independent expert appointed by Aviva, Dr Lakshmaiah’s insurer. Due to the extent of damage to the car, it was not possible to establish the root cause of the fire.”

READ ALSO  Harvey Weinstein accusers divided over £19m deal to end dozens of lawsuits

In relation to the fire in July, it said the company had concluded that the particulate filter was the most likely cause.

When Vauxhall faced a series of fires in its Zafira people carriers in 2009, the company initially rejected liability. But in August 2015 it launched an investigation. More than 280 cars had caught fire. In April Vauxhall had to recall the model for the third time after it emerged that electronic components in the heating system were still posing a fire risk.

A Vauxhall Zafira burns in south-west London. Photograph: Laura Kerr/PA

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the government body responsible for vehicle recalls, told Money that Lakshmaiah’s car was not subject to a recall – but only after consulting BMW, which it said was managing the recall process.

It said that while his car has the same 2.0 litre diesel engine that is in most of the recalled models and was built at the same time, the engine in his MPV is installed at 90 degrees to those, “making it very different” to the affected models, and not a risk.

BMW said it had replaced the EGR valve on Lakshmaiah’s car in 2017, although this was not a safety issue. And it updated the engine management control unit software, also related to the EGR, which was done in June 2018, it said.

The episode has left Lakshmaiah angry at the way he has been treated, given what he spent buying the car and the hundreds more on servicing.

“How can a car that has been serviced at least every year by the main dealer just burst into flames? I have been offered £18,000 by my insurer, have lost my no-claims bonus, had to pay the excess on my policy and face higher premiums going forward. And BMW have contributed nothing. They are now demanding the replacement car back. I don’t think I will be buying another BMW,” he says.

READ ALSO  Huawei critics in China inspired by Hong Kong protests
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hold dit netværk orienteret