Class-Action Lawsuit Alleges BMW Cupholders Might Trigger Airbags

It claims the X7’s cupholders can leak moisture directly onto vital electronics.

byDec 20, 2021 12:28 PM
Class-Action Lawsuit Alleges BMW Cupholders Might Trigger Airbags
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BMW is facing a lawsuit concerning the cupholders in its X7 SUV. The automaker is being sued because liquid spilled in the region of the cupholder can allegedly leak through the center console and cause electrical problems. Not just any electrical problems, mind you—the liquid can supposedly leak onto the airbag control module and wiring related to the shifter. The resulting damage can, according to the lawsuit, cause the airbags to inadvertently deploy and cost owners thousands in repairs not covered by warranties.

The initial complaint was filed on Thursday of last week in a U.S. District Court in Orange County, California. Its core claim is that the cupholders primarily equipped on—but not limited to—the automaker's 2020 X7 M50i are "not properly designed to hold cups filled with liquid." Because of this claimed defect, the lawsuit claims that when something spills onto them, "the wires for the SRS (airbag) control module, which sits directly underneath cup holder, get wet and are damaged."

BMW

The lawsuit cites a few different cases to substantiate this claim beyond the primary defendant's personal experience, some of which were public forum postings. A few examples, posted on the X7 section of Bimmerpost, allege that after liquid was spilled on their cupholders—one of which was reportedly heated and cooled—they received a "restraint system failure" notification on the dashboard. 

A similar failure claim was also posted to the website Car Problem Zoo, which was likewise cited in the lawsuit. "Driving my vehicle and on my screen popped up driver seat restraint malfunction, also rear seat restraint malfunction," the complaint states, dated July 30, 2021. It goes on to allege that when the vehicle was taken to the dealership for repair, a representative claimed that liquid had leaked onto the SRS control module, which caused the fault. Reportedly, BMW considered this failure not inherent to the cupholder's design, and therefore would not cover the cost of the repair under warranty. "I do have [a] warranty however BMW [is] stating that this is an outside interference and will not be covered under warranty."

There are other instances cited to support the plaintiff's case; however, not all of them ended with BMW refusing to cover the repairs. In select examples, the automaker reportedly paid for the repairs after tedious communications between dealerships and BMW North America. The plaintiff in the lawsuit states this was not her experience, nor has it been the experience of other BMW owners. "At all times relevant, Plaintiff is informed, believes, and based thereon alleges that BMW has refused to provide the free repair, replacement, or retrofitting of the cup holders to owners of the affected vehicles and has refused to reimburse consumers who have paid to have the cup holders repaired in their vehicles."

BMW

We've reached out to BMW for comment on the lawsuit. Speaking to Courthouse News, the plaintiff's attorney, Hovanes Margarian, said tons of vehicles could potentially be affected. "We believe there are thousands of vehicles which have this same design, which is defective," he said. "The way it is arranged the cars are prone to malfunction when either there is a spill in the cupholder or condensation on the cup."

No injuries have been reported as a result of the alleged issue.

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