Own a 2011-2013 BMW X5 or 2011-2014 BMW X6? Your driveshaft most likely has a recall.
BMW has recalled a total of 145,000 X5 and X6 SUV’s in the US and Canada over front driveshaft failures.
Vehicle owners may have received a letter regarding this, provided they are the original owner/haven’t moved/etc. (For our millennial readers, letters are those white envelope shaped items that go from your mailbox to your recycle bin.)
In case you missed it or never got the notice from the manufacturer, the BMW X5 recall states,
“The universal joints in the front driveshaft may wear out prematurely. A worn universal joint may lead to undesirable vibrations and to an increased noise level in the vehicle interior. In individual cases, the universal joint on the front drive shaft may break. The drive torque for the front axle can then no longer be transmitted from the transfer case to the front wheels.”
This sounds fairly mundane, a little vibration maybe, and in the occasional, rare “individual case”, it may break and you’d need a tow truck, right?
BMW X5 Recall is More Serious Than it Sounds
As a European auto repair shop with a specialty in BMW repair and service, we have seen multiple cases of catastrophic failure firsthand and we can tell you, one of those U-joints breaking like what’s described above can actually be quite serious. What the recall should state is, “if the driveshaft becomes disconnected by a breaking U-joint, especially at highway speeds, it will literally rip everything within its path in half.” Yikes.
These photos are of a client’s car this exact scenario happened to. In the first photo, note the damage to the metal oil pan in the back and that the flex disc is broken. In the second photo, here you can get a better view of the large section from the oil pan for the engine that is missing after having been shattered by the impact with the driveshaft after it came loose.
Beyond the obvious fact that now the oil pan will need to be replaced, damage like that to the oil pan of a running engine will cause a sudden and total loss of engine oil. Oil-starvation in a running engine, even if it’s just momentary, is a disaster. There is no faster way to completely ruin an engine, top to bottom, than to starve it of oil (which is why mechanics and auto shops are constantly reiterating the importance of keeping up with your oil changes).
We have seen several of these failures within the last few months, and it can be extremely frightening when it happens. It is not as rare of an incidence as the recall makes it sound. If you own one of these vehicles, find out if it has been repaired, please. If it hasn’t been, have it repaired ASAP! This BMW X5 recall repair work must be performed by BMW dealerships.
The specific recall number is 17V-138. To see if your X5 or X6 falls within the affected range and to get more details, here is the NHTSA pdf of the actual recall.