BMW faces up to 70 court actions over potentially 'catastrophic' engine fault
A solicitor is preparing 70 cases against carmaker BMW after it admitted that hundreds of its vehicles may need to be checked for a potentially "catastrophic" design fault.
Dublin-based Dermot McNamara has received written submissions from BMW owners up and down the country, many of whose vehicles experienced engine failure while travelling at speed.
In one case, a driver claimed he lost all power, including his power steering, on a round-about while coming off the M50 and only just managed to avoid colliding with other cars.
Another driver said her car stopped working in the middle lane of a motorway in heavy 120kmh traffic, leaving her in fear of her life as other vehicles swerved around her.
BMW has admitted a design fault with chain tensioners - and potentially timing chains - in its N47 engines installed in vehicles made between February 2007 and June 2008.
The company dismissed claims of problems with cars built after that.
The engine was used in BMW's 1 Series, 3 Series and 5 Series vehicles.
The German carmaker is facing legal threats over its refusal to carry out the repairs - estimated at around €6,000 per vehicle - for free.
BMW carried out repairs to one vehicle after its owner issued legal proceedings.
However, the company could now face more legal action over its stated position to treat each customer on a case-by-case basis.
The timing chain links all the moving parts of an engine and its perfect operation is vital. Mechanics must remove the engine to check it.
"If a timing chain breaks, the driver loses all power from the engine with a resultant loss of braking and power steering," said Mr McNamara.
"Many of our submissions involve people who had been travelling with families on motorways when the failure occurred.
"One particularly harrowing case saw the BMW vehicle lose all control and mount a kerb, badly damaging a wheel but thankfully avoiding any pedestrians."
BMW has admitted problems, but refused to say if it would pay for repairs.
A spokesman said the motor giant is reviewing N47 engine vehicles produced between February 2007 and June 2008, but added that "any customer concerns are assessed on a case-by-case basis".