— A BMW fire lawsuit alleges a 328i caught on fire while it was parked because electrical problems were never repaired during numerous previous visits to BMW dealers.
The BMW fire lawsuit was filed by California resident Mehvish Mona Shaikh, who leased a new 2013 BMW 328i on July 5, 2013, for a total price of $36,622.75. Everything with the car seemed to be fine until January 2014 when the BMW 328i started allegedly having electrical problems.
The iDrive system used to control various systems of the car shut off while Ms. Shaikh was driving, causing her to contact a BMW dealer for an inspection of the car. After the vehicle was inspected and diagnostics were performed, Ms. Shaikh was told the vehicle only required a software update and the issue had been resolved.
Ms. Shaikh says the iDrive system shut off on her way home from the dealership, so she called the dealer and told them that she refused to wait for an appointment this time. The plaintiff took the BMW to a different dealership in February 2014 and after the car was at the dealer a few days, technicians told the plaintiff there was nothing wrong with the car.
However, the plaintiff says the car continued to experience electrical problems and the iDrive continued to shut off on Ms. Shaikh while she was driving over the next couple of days.
The lawsuit says the BMW was again taken to a dealer on February 26, 2014, and this time the plaintiff was informed the entire iDrive system needed to be replaced due to an electrical problem. After it was replaced, the car allegedly continued to experience electrical problems, so the plaintiff contacted BMW customer relations and filed a complaint.
On May 30, 2014, Ms. Shaikh received an email from Rachael Schultz from BMW’s customer relations department indicating that “Molly” had been previously assisting her, and that Molly would be in touch regarding her concerns.
Not only had Ms. Shaikh allegedly never had any interaction with Molly or anyone else at BMW prior to the email from Ms. Schultz, but neither Molly, nor Ms. Shultz or anyone else ever followed up to assist her.
According to the lawsuit, in September 2014, the passenger front seat malfunctioned and would no longer move forward or back. On September 30, 2014, Ms. Shaikh brought the vehicle in to have this electrical issue fixed and less than two weeks later, the check engine light came on sooner than would be expected for an oil change.
Ms. Shaikh brought the vehicle in on October 10, 2014, and the dealership replaced a faulty O2 electrical sensor.
Then on January 18, 2016, the supposedly repaired iDrive system failed yet again and Ms. Shaikh smelled what appeared to be burning wires while she was driving. The plaintiff says the burning smell scared her and she immediately took her foot off the accelerator and pulled to the side of the road.
The smell dissipated from the passenger compartment after several minutes, however, the iDrive allegedly shut down about 30 minutes later.
Ms. Shaikh made plans to get the BMW 328i back to a dealership, but before she could do that, she was awakened by a loud siren at around 1 a.m. on January 25, 2016. A short time later there was a knock at her door. It was a neighbor there to inform Ms. Shaikh her BMW 328i was on fire.
According to court documents, Ms. Shaikh ran down to her underground parking garage only to see the garage flooded with water and the building surrounded by fire trucks and police vehicles. When she was finally able to see what was left of her BMW 328i, it had been completely destroyed by fire.
A report was prepared at the scene, and a supplemental report was completed following a thorough investigation as to why the car caught fire. The investigator determined that no external factors caused the BMW to catch fire, stating “[t]here is no indication of an intentional fire, nor was there any indication of vandalism or negligence which could have resulted in this fire.”
After the fire, Ms. Shaikh called BMW and asked the automaker to forgive the remaining lease payments since she no longer had the car, and because the fire was allegedly caused by the vehicle’s faulty electrical system.
The plaintiff says even though the car was burned, BMW continued to charge her monthly lease payments which ultimately went into collections and ruined her credit.
Blaming BMW for the alleged electrical problems and fire, Ms. Shaikh says she had no choice but to contact her insurance company for help to pay off the vehicle, even though she did nothing to cause the fire. As a result, she faced increases to her insurance premiums of over $2,500 per year, which will continue for at least the next five years.
The BMW fire lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division - Mehvish Mona Shaikh v. BMW of North America, LLC, et al.
The plaintiff is represented by MLG Automotive Law.
BMW Car Fires
BMW has faced recent scrutiny concerning car fires after an ABC News report in May looked at reports of BMW fires occurring while the vehicles were parked. ABC says it's a "mystery" why the cars catch on fire, but the automaker responded to the report by saying it investigated the reports and could find no pattern to the fires and no defects.
The ABC report says "more than 40" BMW fires have been reported over the past five years, but didn't say which models were among the bunch. In one part of the report, ABC says a "2003 BMW" caught on fire and then described another fire in a "2011 BMW." The one model mentioned was a 2008 BMW X5, so it's clear that fires occurred over a span of model years.
Car fires occur to every automaker, and BMW told ABC that with nearly 5 million vehicles on U.S. roads, car fires for the automaker are rare and can occur from numerous causes such as faulty maintenance, aftermarket parts installed on the cars and even nests created by rodents. One BMW owner said he believed the fire may have been related to a new battery that was installed days before the fire.
The ABC report emphasized how fires occurred in parked cars, but an expert interviewed explained a car is never fully shut off. Once the engine is shut down, the electrical system never stops, something that will never change as vehicles run on computers that are always sending electrical current throughout the cars.
CarComplaints.com will update our website with results of the BMW fire lawsuit.