The German automaker BMW AG, concerned front passenger seat airbags may not deploy, has recalled an estimated 200,000 X3 sport compacts in the United States made between 2004-2006. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported on its  web site that small cracks could develop in a seat detection mat and deactivate the front passenger air bags.

NHTSA said the air bag warning lamp and the passenger air bag “on-off” light would remain on. The head protection system, however, would not be affected, the government said.

According to BMW spokesman Tom Plucinsky no injuries or accidents from the reported issue have occurred.

If the seat detection mat fails to sense a person is sitting in the passenger seat, it deactivates the air bag. Plucinsky said customers alerted the company when they noticed the air bag light indicated a deactivated air bag even when a passenger was sitting in the seat.

NHTSA opened an investigation in September 2007 and upgraded its probe in January. In addition to the vehicles under Wednesday’s recall, the ongoing investigation includes the 2004-2006 Z4, 2006 X5, 2006 6 Series and some 2004-2006 7 Series vehicles.

BMW said it would extend the warranty to 10 years without any mileage limit for the following vehicles: 2006 6 Series, 2006 3 Series with standard seat, 2004-2005 Z4, 2004-2006 7 Series, 2006 X5 and 2004-2006 5 Series with comfort seats.

Under the extended warranty program, BMW said the detection mat in a vehicle with the air bag system problems would be replaced to customers at no charge.

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