Altered Software Suspected of Causing BMW Fires

  • By Gwak Rae-geon

    August 29, 2018 11:07

    Alterations made to software that opens a bypass valve while a car is being driven could be the cause of BMWs spontaneously catching fire, a consumer group alleged Tuesday.

    BMW blames defects in the exhaust gas recirculation module that reduces emissions in diesel cars.

    But the Korea Consumer Association, which has filed a class action lawsuit against BMW, at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday accused the German automaker of changing the software setting on the electronic control unit so that bypass valves open too often while driving.

    To minimize the accumulation of debris, diesel cars send exhaust gases into the EGR module for cooling before they are sent back to the engine. But if the bypass valves open, the exhaust that enters the EGR is sent back to the engine without being cooled.

    A bypass valve from a BMW is shown at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    Lee Ho-keun, a professor at Daedeok University who leads the lawsuit, said, "We tested seven BMWs and found that the bypass valves on the cars that are not subject to the recall remained shut, but the valves in the ones that are being recalled opened 25 to 65 percent of the time when slowing down from 140 km/h to 70 km/h."

    This happened particularly frequently in models meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard and manufactured after 2015, when the EU tightened exhaust regulations.

    Park Sung-ji at the Daejeon Health Institute of Technology said, "The valve is controlled by the ECU [engine control unit], and BMW set the ECU at a level beyond which the engine can withstand the heat."

    A BMW spokesman here said it has asked headquarters in Germany to answer the claims.

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