Is Any Automobile Safe? BMW Recalls 350,000 Luxury Cars

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File picture shows the logo of German luxury carmaker BMW is pictured behind a red traffic light at the company's headquarters in Munich October 28, 2008. German carmaker BMW is recalling own brand and Rolls-Royce cars powered by V8 and V12 engines in Britain, the United States and other markets because of a potential braking problem. "In extreme cases, a loss of power-assisted steering may occur but mechanical braking is still available," a spokesman said on October 1, 2010. Picture taken October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File (GERMANY - Tags: TRANSPORT)

It’s not exactly been a stellar year for the auto industry. Detroit seems in constant freefall. Toyota has arguably had more recalls than sales. And now German manufacturer BMW — a byword for reliability if ever there was one! — has got in on the act, recalling the best part of 350,000 luxury cars worldwide because of a problem with brakes.

The recall affects V8 and V12 engine cars in the BMW 5, 6 and 7 ranges as well as the Rolls-Royce. Yes, that’s right: the sacred Rolls-Royce! Here comes the technical bit: “In the affected vehicles, a leak may develop in the power braking system, potentially causing a vacuum loss and consequent reduction of power braking assistance,” said the company in a statement, though it did maintain that the cars aren’t unsafe. A spokesman told the BBC that the problem came to light via feedback from routine servicing, and the recall is voluntary.

But the bad news does come less than 24 hours after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was investigating a potential power steering problem with the Mini, which is also owned by BMW. Quite the day for the company who extended its chairman’s contract by six years. Perhaps Norbert Reithofer will decide to start driving a different car. (To see TIME’s worst cars of all time, click here.)

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