SEOUL—South Korea urged owners of recalled BMW BMW -2.15% s to take their vehicles for urgent safety checks after dozens of vehicle fires were reported, which BMW has largely blamed on a faulty exhaust component.

Transportation-ministry officials, already investigating BMW over the blazes, announced new safety policies on Friday, saying the recalled vehicles posed a danger to the public. They said 36 vehicle fires potentially related to the defect had been reported in South Korea this year. BMW, the second-most popular foreign car maker in the country after German rival Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, last month issued a recall of around 106,000 vehicles spanning 42 different models, including the 520d model that has been involved in the most fires. No injuries have been reported.

On Monday, Kim Hyo-joon, chairman of the local BMW unit, bowed in apology before domestic news media and pledged to cooperate closely with authorities to conduct safety tests. The company said the car fires had been caused by a defect with the exhaust-gas recirculation cooler.

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