— A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against BMW alleging millions of cars have a defect that allows the sunroof drain tubes to clog and send water into the trunk, drowning vital electrical components.
Plaintiff George Catalano says he was driving his 2007 BMW 530xi when he received a warning of complete electrical failure before the BMW shut down on a busy highway.
Once at the dealership, Catalano learned there was two inches of water covering the electronics located under the spare tire area. Mechanics said the water accumulated from clogged sunroof drain tubes, and the repairs to the electronics cost $2,000. Catalano says the car should have been covered under the certified pre-owned warranty, but BMW made Catalano pay for the repairs.
The lawsuit alleges BMW told Catalano the electronic compartment isn't watertight and nothing with liquid should be placed near the spare tire area. The spare tire compartment houses important electronic components such as the RCDC, SDARS and PDC modules.
The BMW lawsuit alleges BMW knew, or should have known, placing sensitive electrical parts in the trunk could cause catastrophic failure of the car. In addition, the lawsuit alleges the automaker should have known how the clogged sunroof drains could waterlog the trunk.
Saying the cars are "especially prone to water damage that can be caused through the normal and ordinary use of the vehicle,” the plaintiff claims BMW failed to inform customers of the risk of driving the cars.
The plaintiff says the manual for the car doesn't include information warning about the dangers of water near the trunk and how the electronics can be damaged if the car is in the rain. The lawsuit also alleges BMW should have warned consumers about sensitive electrical equipment placed at the bottom of the trunk area.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S., but BMW owners outside the U.S. have complained about the same water damage in the trunk.
An Australian BMW X5 E70 owner said his car was just past its warranty period when a day of rain arrived. The BMW owner said he tried to get into the car but couldn't, no matter what key he tried. The next day he got the car started and took it to a dealership, but on the way he kept receiving warning messages indicating the car was getting ready to stall.
BMW technicians said water was unable to drain from the sunroof drain tubes and flooded the area of the truck that held the spare tire.
"...water flooded into the tire recess and flooded the electrics; all of this was not readily visible. BMW have advised I need to deal with the issue through my insurance and seem unconcerned that an expensive supposedly well engineered car could have such a basic issue." - 2008 BMW X5 owner / Melbourne, Australia
The BMW sunroof drain tube lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York - George Catalano v. BMW of North America LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by the Law Office of Robert L. Starr, Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff LLP, Wexler Wallace LLP, the Law Offices of Stephen M. Harris, P.C., and the Law Offices of Joseph R. Santoli.