More than 150,000 Audi A3 vehicles from recent model years are being recalled due to problems with a sensor that may fail and turn off the passenger side air bag when someone is occupying the seat.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Audi A3 recall on March 22, indicating the passenger occupant detection system (PODS) may malfunction and deactivate the front seat passenger airbag, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash.
The manufacturer, Volkswagen, first became aware of the defect in early 2019, following several warranty claims indicating the “passenger airbag off” warning light on the instrument panel came on by itself while someone was in the seat.
Following an internal investigation, the German automaker determined an electrical connector can malfunction and deactivate the front passenger-side airbag, and subsequently issued a recall for 138,000 model year 2015 through 2019 A3 cars in June 2019. However, following new reports of airbag problems with the previously recalled Audi A3 vehicles, even after the repair remedy was performed, Volkswagen determined an additional issue exists within the PODS system beyond the issue addressed by the 2019 recall.
NHTSA officials warn that in the event of a automobile accident in which the airbag does not deploy, passengers could be at an increased risk of serious injury or death.
While the root cause of the problem is still unknown, Volkswagen announced it is recalling 153,152 model year 2015 through 2020 Audi S3 Sedan, A3 Sedan, 2016 through 2018 A3 Etron, 2017 through 2020 RS3 Sedan, and 2015 through 2019 A3 Cabriolet vehicles due to the airbag problem.
Volkswagen recommends occupants of recalled vehicles avoid using the front passenger seat while the investigation into the problem continues.
The automaker announced it will begin notifying customers of the recall with an initial notice by May 21, and will provide a second notice when a remedy becomes available. Customers with additional questions or concerns surrounding the recall are encouraged to contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834 and reference the recall campaign number 69BY.