On September 6, 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledged a recall of the 2018 edition of Volkswagen’s Atlas SUV.
Why the recall? Some Atlas’ airbags may deploy randomly, potentially injuring its occupants. According to Volkswagen, they received one report involving curtain airbags being deployed randomly. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is recalling about 9,600 vehicles. Each of them was manufactured at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
The cause of this error is because of improper part installation. During production, the air condition evaporator drain tube contorted into an irregular position. This resulted in water drain into the airbag control module rather than outside of the car. A wet airbag control module can result in an unintended airbag deployment. Random airbag deployment can increase the risk of both injury and accident. The twisted tube may also leak water into the passenger compartment, which can cause a foul smell or a wet carpet inside the car. A warning light may show up on the dashboard.
How the Recall Works
According to the NHTSA, the recall will begin around October 14, 2018. Volkswagen will notify owners of the defect by then and will provide instructions on how to schedule a free repair at their local dealership. The dealership will be instructed to inspect both the drain tube and airbag control module and replace both if necessary. VW Atlas owners can contact Volkswagen directly at 1-800-893-5298. They can also enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) at the NHTSA website. Doing this can indicate whether or not their specific vehicle has any recalls that need to be addressed. The VIN can identify both when and where the car was manufactured.
Prior Volkswagen Atlas Recalls
This has not been the first time that this year’s edition of the Volkswagen Atlas was recalled for faulty parts. Both it and 2018 Passat vehicles were recalled for the same brake issues in June and August. Their brake caliper pistons were improperly coated.
In addition, their brake system components were not tightened correctly. According to VW, if the caliper moves, this can affect the car’s ability to brake and may lead to an accident. However, replacing and properly torquing the bolts will fix this issue.
Around November 2017, VW recalled 58 of its 2018 Atlas SUVs because the fuel tank had thin walls that could leak fuel. This could cause the car to catch fire if an ignition source hit the tank. VW announced at that time that they would allow owners of these recalled cars to have their fuel tanks replaced. In May of this year, another 218 Atlases were recalled for the same issue.
In June, Volkswagen also recalled 54,537 of its 2018 Atlas SUV because child booster seats might interfere and damage seatbelt buckles in the center seating position of the second row. This may result the seat belt releasing on its own, which can increase the risk of injury during a car accident for the occupant in the center seating position. There was also no information in the car’s manual that noted measurement restrictions of a child restraint device for the center seating position of the second row. Volkswagen noted that damaged safety belt buckles will be replaced. In addition, they have updated their owner’s manual supplement that includes child restraint device restrictions.
VW Atlas and Tiguan vehicles were also recalled because the airbags of the front passenger seat may not unfold properly or even tear during deployment. The NHTSA reported that this can increase the risk of injury to the front seat passenger during a crash. The issue could be solved by replacing the passenger frontal airbag.
This most recent recall involving the 2018 VW Atlas is its seventh since its release.