Super-luxury brand Rolls-Royce is recalling almost every car sold in Australia over the past 10 years - with a combined value of close to $100 million - in one case because the brakes could fail, in another because the car could catch fire.
The recalls are a major embarrassment to the iconic brand so paranoid about its image it once insisted its cars be covered if ever put on a tow truck. The recalls affect approximately 74 of the company's flagship Phantom sedan, coupe and convertible models sold between 2003 and 2009, and approximately 36 of its Ghost sedans sold between 2009 and 2011.
According to a bulletin issued overnight by Product Safety Recalls Australia, the $645,000 Ghost is being recalled because: "If the turbo cooling pump cracks, the pump electronics may smoulder, possibly causing an engine compartment fire or a vehicle fire."
Meanwhile, at the same time the agency recalled the Phantom range - each model priced between $1 million and $1.35 million - because of "the possibility of oil entering the brake booster, there may be a reduction in power braking assistance and an increased chance of an accident occurring".
The Phantom recall sounds eerily similar to a recall issued for the BMW 7-Series in 2010. That vehicle shares many of its components with the Phantom (BMW bought Rolls-Royce in 1998).
But as yet there is no explanation for the 18-month delay in notifying Rolls-Royce customers of the similar problem. The 24 April 2012 statement from the federal government's recalls agency about the Phantom problem says: "Engine oil from the brake vacuum pump may enter the brake vacuum line, possibly allowing oil to enter the brake booster".
The 4 October 2010 statement from the recalls agency about the BMW 7-Series problem says: "Engine oil from the brake vacuum pump may enter the brake vacuum line. In some cases, it is possible that after a period of time oil may enter the brake booster".