Airbags for Our M3

Jan 6, 2017 update to the BMW M3 project car

Our BMW M3 recently visited Fields BMW of Daytona for its airbag replacement.
Our new airbag looks just like the one it replaced.
In the nicely stocked waiting room, we were greeted with all sorts of reading materials.
Klondike bars, too!
We were good, though, and just had a homemade muffin and some water.

When we bought our M3, the seller–an old friend of ours–mentioned that this car had been caught up in the recent Takata airbag mishap. The passenger airbag had already bee replaced, he said, but so far the driver side only received the interim update. He gave us a letter detailing the final update.

And then we lost the letter.

Fortunately BMW is smarter than us, and they have a website for recall info. We just entered our VIN and learned that, yes, we were due for an airbag replacement. Call the dealer to schedule an appointment, they said.

So we did.

Parts had to be ordered, they said, so they asked us to schedule the appointment a week or so out.

So we did.

The airbag replacement would take an hour or so, the nice lady at our local dealer explained, so we could wait for it.

So we did.

We arrived at our scheduled date and time and were greeted at the entrance to the service department. They were expecting us, going as far as greeting us by name.

About 90 minutes later, they returned the car to us—washed, too, we might add. Obviously there was no charge for the visit.

As the service advisor explained afterward, the “interim” airbag was just a newer example of the original part number. The final airbag is a redesigned piece. Either way, hopefully we never have to use it.

So, this whole Takata airbag thing: What’s your take on it? Is it a nothing story, minor inconvenience or a big deal? When we heard that a friend’s friend succumbed to airbag injuries, we became a bit more interested in the matter.

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Reader comments:

conesare2seconds
Jan. 6, 2017 2:21 p.m.

Hadn't heard about Riff, hate that happened to him. The airbag deal is no joke.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
Jan. 6, 2017 2:39 p.m.
conesare2seconds wrote: Hadn't heard about Riff, hate that happened to him. The airbag deal is no joke.

A friend's car has been at the dealership since August waiting on an airbag. Since he needs it for work, they put him in a rental. So, yeah, he's been in a rental since summer.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver PowerDork
Jan. 6, 2017 3:03 p.m.

Airbags that throw shrapnel at you in a manner that is often fatal when they are supposed to be protecting you is a bit of a big deal. If not addressed, it undermines a safety system that has been proven to save lives.

Takata has an issue with the type of propellant they used. Here is one of the more informative articles that I have come across. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/takatas-switch-to-cheaper-airbag-propellant-is-at-center-of-crisis.html?_r=0

Plus they made a TON of them, so ramping up production to cope with both new cars and replacing the millions of old ones (somewhere around 30 million units in the US alone and growing) is a challenge to that industry. Plus, you take a design that used one propellant to allow it to be smaller and try to design with a different propellant... Now add that they are looking at some other airbags from ARC...

An inconvenience, but at least your airbags will protect you in a crash rather than having a chance of sending a hunk of metal through your face/neck/chest.

Plus, some of them stand a pretty good chance of hurting you when they should be saving you. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-30/nhtsa-says-313-000-honda-vehicles-have-high-risk-takata-air-bags

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
Jan. 6, 2017 3:11 p.m.

Thanks for another reminder that I should schedule an appt for the my 330. Got the letter that they finally have part availability.

Didn't think about it until the other day when a car turned left onto a divided highway, where there isn't a cut-through, directly into my lane. Head on at 65mph would have hurt even without the shrapnel.

Driven5
Driven5 Dork
Jan. 6, 2017 3:19 p.m.

Since, to the best of my knowledge, it's a combination of actual age and environmental induced aging that determines the likelihood of failure, I think it currently spans the full spectrum from minor inconvenience to big deal. I did get the "exploding shrapnel device" replaced on our Fit. But since life is nothing but a series of calculated risks, I decided that the probability of a newer car in a lesser aging climate having such a failure was low enough that it wasn't worth altering my usage of the car up until a fix was made available. So more of a 'minor inconvenience' for me. That being said, my wife still didn't appreciate when I referenced it as "the death trap" in conversation.

NEALSMO
NEALSMO UltraDork
Jan. 6, 2017 4:18 p.m.

Good reminder. I still need to bring my wagon in for the recall.

dyintorace
dyintorace PowerDork
Jan. 6, 2017 4:20 p.m.

Thanks for the reminder! It hadn't occurred to me that my new to me 325iT might be under the recall. I used the BMW link you provided and, sure enough, both front airbags are subject. I just called the local dealer, they have both in stock and can see me Monday morning!

Driven5
Driven5 Dork
Jan. 6, 2017 5:30 p.m.

...And am I the only one who took the bait on thinking 'Why the berk would GRM stance an M3?"

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
Jan. 6, 2017 5:54 p.m.

My buddy has a E46 wagon on bags. They're actually pretty awesome.

dyintorace
dyintorace PowerDork
Jan. 6, 2017 8:17 p.m.

Tyler - did you get my request for pics of your ARC-8s? I'm thinking about that wheel for my Touring.

GTwannaB
GTwannaB HalfDork
Jan. 6, 2017 8:30 p.m.

Took at least 6 months for the parts to come in for my Legacy. Upside was when they put the dash back together they fixed a rattle in the dash that has been there for seven years. But the radio reception now sucks. No free lunch.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
Jan. 6, 2017 9:24 p.m.
dyintorace wrote: Tyler - did you get my request for pics of your ARC-8s? I'm thinking about that wheel for my Touring.

Sent you a message. Great wheel. 18x9 et30 is an aggressive offset for an e46 non-m, but perfect for e9x.

PT_SHO
Jan. 13, 2017 2:00 a.m.

FWIW Subaru told me months ago that: Yes, my 06 STI was part of the recall; The passenger airbag is the one that poses the danger; I really shouldn't let anybody sit in the passenger seat until the recall is done; AND The parts won't be in until sometime in 1Q 2017. If this wasn't my autocross car which has nobody else in it other than an occasional ride-along at an event, I would be /very/ upset that Subaru was depriving me of the use of my car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
Jan. 13, 2017 2:18 a.m.

Got my 2002 M5 done last month. They gave me a loaner X1 for the day, then it turns out they forgot to order a part for some related work I requested. So I got to keep the loaner. Not a great trade, honestly.

That night, it snowed like crazy in Denver. It would have been a hassle in the M5 to put it mildly, but the X1 is good at donuts in 8" of snow. Then I drove the 260 miles back to Grand Junction over a few 10,000' passes through some weather. And kept driving the X1 for a couple of weeks until the dealership drove the M5 over to me and picked up the loaner.

Not bad service for a 15 year old car. Folks, go to Schomp BMW in Denver.

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