NHTSA probes BMW 7-series cars for roll-away issue

DETROIT Tue Aug 9, 2011 9:12am EDT

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DETROIT (Reuters) - Safety regulators have opened an investigation into an estimated 120,000 BMW 7-Series sedans for a potential issue with the car not shifting into park and then rolling away.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has opened a preliminary probe of the BMW cars from model years 2002 through 2008 after receiving a complaint that a 2006 model rolled away after the consumer parked and exited the vehicle.

Reports involving similarly equipped cars also describing roll-away incidents were submitted by BMW, according to the NHTSA website.

A BMW spokesman said the automaker is cooperating with the NHTSA and is not aware of any reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue.

A preliminary investigation is the first step in a process that could lead to a recall if regulators determine that a safety issue needs to be addressed by a manufacturer.

According to the complaint filed with NHTSA, the car was equipped with BMW's electronic access and ignition system, and an electronic transmission shifter with a gear selector mounted on the steering column.

The shifter is designed to automatically shift the vehicle to park under a variety of conditions, including when the driver turns off the engine, according to the NHTSA website.

The NHTSA said no cause has been identified for any of the incidents.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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