Volkswagen (VW) Recalls and Malfunctions
Today, Volkswagen (“VW”) is one of the largest car manufacturers in the world. In German, “Volkswagen” translates to “the people’s car.” The company has dark origins as it was started in 1937 in Germany by the Nazi trade union organization. The company was created in order to design a simple car that everyone could afford. The outbreak of the war brought the company to the brink of dissolution, but subsequent mergers with famed companies like Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Ducati Bugatti, and Lamborghini helped the company reach its modern day success, despite recent scandals.
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Volkswagen Defects and Recalls
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to intentionally programming engines in some models that allowed the vehicles to cheat emissions testing, preventing compliance with the Clean Air Act. The company issued 11 million cars worldwide—500,000 cars in the U.S.—that cheated emissions test from noticing that the affected cars emitted 40 times the amount of greenhouse gasses than what the vehicles displayed during testing. Volkswagen admitted that it had knowingly cheated emissions tests for 16 years. In addition to the large fine, VW was required to pay compensation to owners of the cheated vehicles.
Volkswagen vehicles have been the subject of a variety of recalls over the years. This is a compilation of some of the largest Volkswagen vehicle recalls, however, it is not a complete list of all the recalls that Volkswagen has issued. To search for recalls related to your vehicle, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Volkswagen’s website.
The following are some of the more common issues that a Volkswagen owner may face:
VW was one of the many vehicle manufacturers affected by the Takata airbag defect recalls. Last year, Volkswagen recalled about 850,000 vehicles with Takata air bags. But unlike most vehicle manufacturing companies, Volkswagen refuted the scope of the recalls issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Volkswagen claimed that it used Takata airbags manufactured in Germany, which were not defective like air bags manufactured in other Takata plants. Still, Volkswagen submitted to the massive recalls.
The most recent Takata recall came in July of 2016. Volkswagen recalled about 15,000 vehicles for faulty airbags that could deploy with excessive force, causing injuries.
In January 2017, Volkswagen recalled an additional 230,000 vehicles for faulty air bags. Some 2011-2017 Audi models had a defective drainage system for the sunroof, allowing water to reach the foam surrounding the side head air bag inflator. The Inflator canister can corrode from the water leaks, causing sudden deployment of the air bag. If the canister breaks, it could propel metal fragments into the vehicle, causing serious injury.
Volkswagen has had several serious brake recalls over the last two years.
The company recalled over 135,000 vehicles in December 2016 for serious brake defects. Some models manufactured between 2009 and 2010 were recalled due to a failure in the Antilock Brake System that can malfunction during the Electronic Security Control activation, resulting in loss of vehicle control.
In March 2016, Volkswagen recalled about 47,000 vehicles for missing pedal pivot pins. Brake pedals in the affected vehicles could dislodge due to the missing pin, preventing the driver from using the brakes at all.
The company also recalled almost 92,000 vehicles in October 2015 for brake assist problems. The vehicles had a defective camshaft lobe, the part that drives the brake vacuum pump, that could shear off, preventing the brake assist system from operating.
In January 2017, Volkswagen recalled over 340,000 vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2016 for possible engine fires. The affected vehicles had 2.0I Turbo FSI engines with an electric coolant pump that can become clogged by fragments and debris from the cooling system, causing overheating. Overheating in the pump increases the risk for engine fires.
In late 2016, VW issued three large recalls relating to defects in the fuel system of various models. Each recall affected different vehicle models.
Volkswagen recalled about 143,000 vehicles for malfunctioning fuel caps. The caps were liable to crack, causing fuel leakage and an increased risk of a vehicle fire.
Around the same time, the company recalled about 110,000 vehicles for issues with the suction pump in the fuel tanks. The affected vehicles can allow fuel to run into the evaporative emissions system and leak out of the filter element. This leak increases the risk of engine fires.
The company also recalled over 28,000 vehicles for problems with the fuel hose to the engine. The hose could leak fuel near the engine, increasing the risk of a vehicle fire.
Volkswagen recalled about 91,000 vehicles in March of 2016 for a flawed electrical system. The affected vehicles had TDI engines with improperly assembled wire seals, allowing water and moisture to corrode the underbody sensor and cause a shortage. Electrical shortages in vehicles increase the risk of vehicle fires.
In April 2015, VW recalled over 20,000 vehicles for faulty key fobs. The fobs could be jarred into the “off” position while driving, causing crucial safety systems to go offline including power steering, brakes, and airbag functions.
Volkswagen Safety Ratings
Despite the recent recalls and emissions scandal, Volkswagen has remained solid in its safety ratings. About 35% of all VW’s receive a five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and 38% of the company’s vehicles receive a top safety pick rating with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. VW’s lowest rating come from customer satisfaction with the quality of the cars and the repair services at VW’s dealerships. The company is also behind in implementing modern safety features into their cars, like blind spot monitoring, rearview cameras, and adaptive cruise control.