Volkswagen Atlas Airbags May Fail To Deploy Due to Wiring Fault in Front Passenger Seat: Recall

This is the third Volkswagen Atlas recall issued due to airbag problems, which could increase the risk of crash injuries to occupants.

More than 270,000 Volkswagen Atlas vehicles are being recalled, due to a risk that the front airbag may not deploy in an auto accident, increasing the risk of serious injury for front-seat passengers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Volkswagen Atlas recall on June 25, after discovering that the passenger occupant detection system (PODS) may experience a wiring malfunction that disables the front passenger airbag while the seat is occupied. According to various media reports, the malfunction is caused by a seat heater interfering with the PODS.

Also referred to as “Body Sense”, the passenger occupant detection system is connected to the vehicle’s seat heating system by a wire under the front passenger seat. The wire controls the activation and deactivation of the front passenger airbag.

An airbag failing to deploy in a crash can significantly increase the risk of injury for occupants. Without the cushioning effect of the airbag, passengers are more likely to suffer severe impacts with the steering wheel, dashboard, or other parts of the vehicle interior. This can lead to serious injuries such as head trauma, chest injuries, broken bones or death.

Additionally, the lack of airbag deployment can undermine the effectiveness of seat belts, as airbags are designed to work in tandem with them to provide optimal protection during a collision.

Volkswagen Airbag Problems

The recall issued this week is similar to a Volkswagen Atlas recall announced last year, affecting more than 150,000 vehicles from the 2018 through 2021 model years, which were found to experience a nearly identical issue related to the PODS system.

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Another Volkswagen Atlas recall was announced in 2021, affecting more than 50,000 vehicles that contained a defect where the airbags may suddenly deploy when water entered the airbag control module. An investigation revealed that improperly manufactured water drain tubes from the supplier Air International Thermal Systems were causing water to leak into the airbag control module.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Recall Over Air Bag Failures

This latest recall affects approximately 271,330 model year 2021-2024 Volkswagen Atlas vehicles, and model year 2020-2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vehicles.

NHTSA is advising that in the event of a malfunction, vehicle occupants will be notified of an issue with the PODS system through several alerts, including the airbag warning light will illuminate, an acoustic warning will sound, an error message will appear in the instrument cluster, and the status of the Passenger Airbag OFF indicator light will change.

Authorities are advising that in this situation, the vehicle owner should promptly bring their vehicle to a certified Volkswagen dealership for an inspection and necessary repairs.

According to the NHTSA, certified Volkswagen dealers will provide a free replacement for the PODS sensor mat and wiring harness. Notification letters are scheduled to be sent to owners on August 16, 2024.

For further assistance, owners can call Volkswagen’s customer service at 1-800-893-5298, referencing recall number 69PZ. Additionally, owners can reach the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or visit www.nhtsa.gov.

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