U.S. regulators probe BMW 7-Series rollaway issues

April 16 Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:04pm EDT

April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators escalated an investigation into push-button transmission control problems that may be present on about 120,000 BMW, 7-Series model years 2002-2008 sold in the United States, regulators said.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there have been five alleged injuries in 16 crashes among the 50 complaints to BMW or the safety regulator.

The investigation has been escalated into an "engineering analysis" by NHTSA.

Drivers have complained that the BMW vehicles with push-button control to stop and start the engine have rolled after the drivers have intended to place them in "park" by pushing the stop/start button.

NHTSA said many of these drivers believe they are in "park" when their vehicles are actually in "neutral" and prone to roll away.

"When parking the vehicle, the driver has the capability to manually shift the vehicle to park by pressing the 'Park' button on the end of the electronic gearshift lever. However, the instructions for engine shutoff provided in the owner's manual state that pressing the 'start/stop' button serves the dual function of switching off the engine and automatically shifting the transmission to park," said a notice from NHTSA.

Last month, BMW separately recalled about 1.3 million cars worldwide due to a possible problem with a battery cable cover in the trunk. That recall affected 5- and 6-Series BMWs built between 2003 and 2010, BMW said on March 26.

That recall affects about 367,000 cars in the United States and about 290,000 cars in Germany, BMW said.

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