really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,678 miles

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problem #1

Mar 262006

740 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,678 miles
Two days after purchasing a 2000 BMW 740il with 45,000 miles on it from a friend, I left my driveway and activated the driver's side heated seat. After driving several hundred yards, I began to smell smoke. I stopped the vehicle to try to determine the source of the problem. My wife was following in another vehicle and pulled along side me. I rolled down the window and wife said "there is smoke coming out of the window!". I turned off the seat and opened the door and looked at the seat. There was a burnt spot approximately the size of a dime high on the outboard bolster of the driver's seat. I touched the spot and it was extremely hot to the touch. My one and a half year old daughter was strapped in her car seat in the back. Before exiting the vehicle, I unlocked all the doors in case I had to go around and pull her from the car. After turning off the seat, the fire stopped. I have researched this issue on several BMW E38 websites and have found several other complaints of this occurrence. One individual said that a service bulletin had been sent to BMW dealers to alert them of this problem in several lines of BMW cars, including some newer models. Fortunately, I had not yet utilized the auxiliary climate control timer function that allows the owner to have the car turn on it's heated seats and steering wheel at a pre-set time before the owner enters the car. Seeing how quickly the seat caught fire, I have no doubt that if this function had been used, it would have resulted in a catastrophic vehicle fire that could have consumed the seat, since presumably the owner would be inside the home or office and could not witness the fire.

- Charlotte, NC, USA