Volkswagen Atlas Recall Issued Over Airbag Deployment Problems

Water draining from the air conditioning system could cause accidental deployments

More than 50,000 Volkswagen Atlas vehicles are being recalled due to a defect which may cause the airbags to suddenly deploy, increasing the risk of a car accident or severe injury to occupants.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Volkswagen Atlas recall on November 23, after the discovery of problems in the vehicles’ air conditioning system, which could let water enter the airbag control module and inadvertently deploy the airbags while the vehicle is in in motion or while parked.

Volkswagen discovered the Atlas airbag problem in July, after a customer submitted a warranty claim reporting the airbags in an Atlas vehicle deployed without a crash or impact. The manufacturer opened an investigation and collected field parts, and ultimately determined the cause was improperly manufactured water drain tubes provided by its parts supplier, Air International Thermal Systems of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

The investigation found that faulty drain tubes in the air conditioning system may become blocked, causing water to accumulate and leak inside of the vehicle, and into the airbag control module.

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The VW recall includes approximately 54,429 model year 2021 Atlas and 2020 through 2021 Atlas Cross Sport vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., and were distributed to licensed dealers nationwide.

Customers are being informed that in the event of a blocked drain tube that causes water to reach to the airbag control module, drivers may notice an illuminated airbag warning light, or no warning at all prior to the airbags deploying. If the airbag warning light illuminates on the dashboard cluster, customers are being instructed to take the vehicles to a dealer immediately.

Volkswagen will be notifying customers of the recall by mailed notice with instructions on how to schedule a free inspection at a local dealer, where dealers will be instructed to inspect if a blocked drain tube is present, and replace the airbag control modules of those with blocked drain tubes.

The German automaker indicates that because the recalled Atlas vehicles are within the New Vehicle Limited Warranty period, Volkswagen will not offer a reimbursement program under this recall.

Customers with questions or concerns regarding the recall are encouraged to contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298 and reference the recall number 87H4.


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