BMW is recalling 188,670 U.S.-market X3 and X4 SUVs because of the potential for the lower LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) anchors to break while in use. The manufacturer says the recall, which covers 622,000 SUVs worldwide, mainly impacts Europe because of the rigid-style LATCH connectors used by most child seats there. But some child seats in the U.S. are equipped with this rigid-type connector as well, such as the Clek Foonf and Olli, and the Nuna Pippa.

BMW says that “this issue is unlikely to occur using LATCH-type flexible-style connector child restraint systems.” However, Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports’ director of auto safety, advises parents not to take any risks. 

Rigid-style LATCH connectors
Rigid-style LATCH connectors, such as these on the Clek Foonf, are available—but less common—on U.S. child seats.

“Even for seats with flexible LATCH connectors, to err on the side of caution, parents with these vehicles should stop using the LATCH restraint and secure their child seats using the safety belts,” says Stockburger. “Follow the instructions that came with the child seat, and use the belts to secure the child seat until you are able to have the recall performed.”

The recall involves X3s built between July 2010 and April 15, 2016, and X4s built between April 2014 and April 15, 2016. According to BMW, the lower anchor bars could become damaged over time. To secure the bars, a reinforcing bracket will be welded to the lower anchor bars and vehicle body.  

Documents in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall database note that the rigid-type connectors put excessive stress on the vehicle's lower anchor bars over time. Factors such as the type of restraint system, the size/weight of the child, how often the anchors are used, how the vehicle is driven, and road conditional also play a part in the stresses placed on the anchors.

Flexible LATCH connectors
An example of flexible hook-style LATCH connectors.

When contacted for a statement, a BMW representative said, "BMW is unaware of any injuries involving these vehicles associated with this safety recall. BMW owners can check their vehicles’ recall status online or by contacting BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-525-7417 or email CustomerRelations@bmwusa.com."

Owners of affected vehicles will receive a letter in July advising them of the recall and instructing them to make an appointment with their BMW dealer to have the repair completed.