BMW and Mini Vehicles Recalled to Fix Child Car Seat Problem

The problem, which involves a faulty seat belt component, also affects Rolls Royces and the Toyota Supra

2021 BMW 3 Series Photo: BMW

Over 21,000 vehicles from multiple BMW-owned brands are being recalled to fix faulty passenger seat belt retractors that could pose an issue for anyone trying to install a child car seat.

The recalled vehicles are all from the 2021 model year and include models from BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and Toyota. (Mini and Rolls-Royce are part of the BMW Group, and the Toyota Supra is based on a BMW design.) On the majority of these vehicles, only the front passenger seat belts are affected, and it is not recommended to install a child seat in the front passenger seat. 

However, the 2021 BMW 2 Series convertible and M2 Competition Coupe, 3 Series and M3 sedans, and 5 Series sedan may have faulty automatic locking retractors (ALR) in the rear seats. Because the ALR locks a seat belt tight for a snug car seat installation, a faulty ALR would make it difficult to securely install car seats using a seat belt.

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BMW says that the emergency locking retractor (ELR)—which activates during a crash—should still work properly even on the recalled vehicles, so even a belt with a faulty ALR will still restrain a car seat during a crash. However, a belt with a faulty ALR may not allow for a tight enough car seat installation in the first place, which would allow for more movement of the car seat, says Emily Thomas, Ph.D., automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports.

“When installing a car seat with a seat belt on one of these vehicles, you won’t be able to keep slack out of the seat belt system during an installation to get a secure fit,” she says. 

A fix—which a BMW spokesperson tells CR takes about an hour to complete—is currently available, so owners should contact their dealership as soon as possible to check to see if their car needs a new retractor and have it installed if necessary. In the meantime, BMW says that lower LATCH anchors are not affected by the recall. So Thomas recommends using those anchors to install car seats in the affected vehicles if possible.

“Check the LATCH limits on your car seat. If your child is under the weight limit, install the seat with the lower anchors. If that’s not an option, make sure the top tether is attached for all forward-facing car seats,” she says. “And most importantly, make sure the child is properly harnessed inside the car seat.” A BMW spokesperson told CR the company is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to this recall.

The Details

Vehicles recalled: 

Certain 2021 model year vehicles from four different brands are being recalled, including some of the following:

• BMW 2 Series coupes and convertibles  

• BMW 3 Series and M3 sedans 

• BMW 4 Series and M4 coupes 

• BMW 5 Series sedans

• BMW X1 and X2 SUVs

• BMW Z4 convertibles

Mini Cooper hatchbacks and convertibles

Mini Clubman hatchbacks

• Mini Countryman SUVs

• Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUVs

• Rolls-Royce Ghost and Phantom sedans

Toyota Supra coupes. 

Only a small percentage of these vehicles actually have the faulty retractor.

The problem: Part of the seat belt mechanism called the automatic locking retractor (ALR) may not engage properly, which could prevent the proper installation of a car seat.

The fix: Dealerships will inspect and, if necessary, replace the retractors, free of charge. The fix is currently available.

How to contact the manufacturer: Owners should receive a recall notification by the middle of September 2021. They can also contact BMW at 800-525-7417, Mini at 866-825-1525, Rolls-Royce at 877-877-3735, and Toyota at 888-270-9371.

NHTSA campaign number: 21V554

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

Stay informed about recalls that might affect your vehicle using our Car Recall Tracker. Create a free account now to become a CR member. 


Head shot photo of CRO Cars CIA editor Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Despite my love for quirky, old European sedans like the Renault Medallion, it's my passion to help others find a safe, reliable car that still puts a smile on their face—even if they're stuck in traffic. When I'm not behind the wheel or the keyboard, you can find me exploring a new city on foot or planning my next trip.