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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

BMW 7-Series under Investigation for Defective Transmission Controls

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a step closer to a recall of the BMW 7-Series luxury vehicles. An investigation that began in August followed 50 complaints, including 6 accidents and 5 injuries that appear to be the result of a transmission control problem. The investigation covers nearly 122,000 BMWs from the 2002 through 2008 model years.

The problem arises from the push-button start and electronic transmission controls; owners may think the vehicle is in park when it is actually in neutral causing the vehicle to unexpectedly roll.

In one case, the driver said his vehicle was parked when it rolled about 40 yards and crashed into a parking lot embankment. Another driver reported that his 2006 750 Model BMW was supposed to automatically shift to park when he touched the stop-start button to turn off the vehicle, but after exiting the vehicle it rolled backward about 100 feet and hit a lamppost. Fortunately, in both these cases no one was injured.

BMW is cooperating in the investigation, but said that there are circumstances in which the vehicles are designed to go into “neutral” instead of park. Unfortunately, these situations are not described in the owner’s manual. Here are the scenarios presented by BMW. If the transmission is in Drive or Reverse while the engine is running and the driver presses the start-stop ignition button two or three times “within a 0.3 second to 0.5 second interval,” the engine would stop but the transmission would move into Neutral. If the driver set the vehicle in Park with the gearshift stalk at the same time the stalk was moved up or down, the transmission would either shift into Neutral.

Why is this information omitted from the owner’s manual? To those owners of the BMW 7-Series, if you knew this information would it help? Are the control systems in many vehicles becoming too complicated at the risk of safety? Is the effort to make vehicles more convenient making them more dangerous?

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.