BMW will pay a $3M fine for failing to report known safety defects within the legally required time-frame.

BMW of North America has agreed to pay a $3 million fine to settle U.S. government charges that it did not notify regulators about recalls in a timely fashion.

The government charges stem from a National Highway Traffic Safety investigation into 16 BMW recalls launched in 2010. The investigation found a number of instances where the automaker failed to report known safety defects and recalls within five days, as is required by federal law.

As part of the settlement, BMW of North America and its parent company, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, have agreed to make internal changes to their recall decision-making process to ensure timely reporting to consumers and the federal government in the future.

"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that defects and recalls are reported in short order," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in a statement. "NHTSA expects all manufacturers to address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner."