The roughly 90,000 vehicles were built between 2000 and 2015 and were outfitted with defective airbags made by Takata and have a high likelihood of not activating in the event of a crash. (Related: Two American vehicle companies recall over 600 electric trucks due to safety issues.)
"These vehicles are seven to 22 years old, and the risk to vehicle occupants is dire," wrote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a statement after it published its own "do not drive" warning.
"These are some of the oldest Takata airbags under recall and have an extremely high probability of failure during a crash," continued the NHTSA. "If the inflators rupture, the metal fragments ejected toward the driver's face could kill or leave them with devastating, life-altering injuries."
"These inflators are two decades old now and, with every day that passes, they become even more dangerous as they can rupture even in a minor crash," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman.
BMW emphasized that replacement parts are available and the repairs will be done for free. The company said it can have affected cars picked up at the owner's home or office and taken to their local BMW dealerships free of charge, repaired and immediately returned.
Alternatively, remote technicians can be sent to wherever the vehicle is located and repairs can be completed on site. BMW claims repairs can be completed in under an hour.
"We cannot state strongly enough just how urgent it is for our customers to take this warning seriously. We know these airbags only become more dangerous over time, which is why we are taking yet another step to get these parts out of our vehicles," said BMW North America Vice President of Aftersales Claus Eberhart.
"Customers must park these vehicles immediately and take a few moments to check if their vehicle is safe for them and their family members to drive," he added. "Repairing these vehicles is quick, easy to arrange and is completely free of charge."
BMW's "do not drive" order affects three sedan and four SUV models – the 1, 3 and 5 Series, all built anywhere between 2000 to 2013, and the X1, X3, X5 and X6 crossover SUVs, all manufactured from 2000 to 2015.
BMW is asking affected owners to check if their vehicles are affected by the "do not drive" order, and if they are, to stop driving their vehicles immediately and to schedule a free service appointment with their local BMW dealership.
The airbags from Takata had inflators that used volatile ammonium nitrate to inflate the airbags in the event of a crash. The NHTSA and BMW both noted that the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to heat and humidity, increasing the chances of the airbag not inflating properly or, worse, blowing apart the metal canister and hurling shrapnel that can harm or kill drivers and passengers.
Since 2009, Takata's defective airbags have caused at least 33 deaths worldwide, with 24 of those deaths occurring in the United States. Most of the deaths and approximately 400 injuries have happened in the U.S., but several incidents have also been recorded in Australia and Malaysia.
Learn more about cars and their possible defects at RoboCars.news.
Watch this clip from Next News Network as host Gary Franchi discusses BMW's reaction to climate protesters vandalizing an iconic vehicle.