Sifting through the mail, you come across it, a note to you directly from BMW. As you extract the lengthy notice written on fancy company letterhead from its paper vessel, your heart beats a little quicker. What could be the reason for this?

As it turns out, these days many things can lead to a recall, and not all require you to bring the car into the shop — in fact, many are voluntary. While BMWs are not known for being recall-ridden, you should keep your ears pricked in case of a situation that requires you to act, lest your car suffer some horrible fate.


The Age of Recalls

It used to be that for a recall to take place a car had to burst into flames. Just look up the Ford Pinto recall, and you’ll see. That’s not the case anymore, though. Consumers have better access to information, so companies are being more diligent about attending to any potentially harmful issues.

Which may be why 6.5 recalls are issued each day — that’s in addition to vehicles.

While not all recalls will have the tremendous impact of others, like the Firestone episode from 2000 or the recent Takata airbag recall, which does affect some BMWs, it’s essential to know how to take advantage of the benefits offered by manufacturers in the event of a recall.

The History of BMW Recalls

In case you’re curious, there have been some more high-profile BMW recalls over the years. These include the rod bearing replacement from 2001 to 2006 for the M3, M Roadster and M Coupe models, which could cause catastrophic failure of the six-cylinder engine if left untreated. A more recent recall was for a PVC heater valve, which affected more than 700,000 vehicles.

To find out if your BMW is ever affected by any recent recalls, visit the BMW USA safety recalls website. You can enter the VIN of your vehicle and any recalls currently issued will be displayed.

BMW dealers also have access to an inventory of all vehicle VINs, plus information about which cars are under recall. In many cases, you’ll be able to get this information online, but you can always call your dealer and double-check to ensure that your vehicle or one you’re looking to purchase is safe.

The Process of Recall Repairs

If you discover an outstanding recall on your car, make an appointment with your local dealership to have the issue fixed. They should be able to accommodate you in a reasonable amount of time and provide repairs free-of-charge. If they need to hold on to your vehicle for a prolonged period, don’t feel awkward requesting a donor vehicle.

Remember that recalls are issued as a precaution, not because your car is guaranteed to burst into flames or suddenly plop down on the road and call it quits. The manufacturer will communicate it to you if you shouldn’t be driving your car, but in most cases, just follow their instructions, bring the car in and enjoy free new parts — as well as a joy ride in a newer model.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?