Just like a pathogen can infect a tiny cut in your skin and end up wreaking real havoc on your body, if a bit of water starts getting into the wrong place on your car it could set off a chain of events that leaves you with a car that won’t move.
BMW announced this week that it would expand a May 2016 recall of SUVs to include 121,737 additional model year 2011 to 2015 X5 and X6 vehicles that may contain a defective driveshaft.
According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, water and debris may enter the front driveshaft’s universal joint, causing excessive wear and possibly resulting in the joint’s failure.
If this occurs, the front wheels would no longer receive any torque, effectively turning the SUV into a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
BMW warns that continued driving of the vehicle with the broken front universal joint may cause damage to other components, increasing the risk of a crash and — in extreme cases — leaving owners with SUVs that won’t drive at all.
The carmaker says in NHTSA filings that it decided to expand the recall after noticing an increase in the number of warranty claims involving cases where vehicle components adjacent to the front driveshaft were damaged, in some cases eventually rendering the vehicle inoperative.
Engineering reviews completed in the fall and winter of 2016 found that the front driveshaft sealing systems were made out of specification.
The carmaker says it is unaware of any injuries or crashes related to the recall. BMW will notify owners of the affected vehicles beginning in April, and dealers will replace the front driveshaft free of charge.