Volkswagen recalls more than 246,000 SUVs due to unexpected braking issue
Volkswagen has issued a safety recall for more than 246,000 SUVs in the US and Canada due to faulty wiring harnesses that can make them brake unexpectedly, sometimes while in traffic, which can lead to accidents. The recall includes certain Atlas SUVs from the 2019 through 2023 model years as well as Atlas Cross Sport models from 2020 through 2023 model years.
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As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documents, electrical contacts on a wiring harness in either of the front doors can corrode, interrupting electrical connections. This can cause the side air bags to deploy late in a crash while the parking brake can come on unexpectedly. The recall comes three days after a report mentioned that that 47 people had complained to US safety regulators about the problem.
Some of these people also reported nearly being rear-ended by other vehicles. Many also reported that warning lights and alarms would go off while the driver's side windows would roll down and the SUVs would suddenly brake while in traffic. The affected Volkswagen SUVs can brake at speeds below 1.8 miles per hour or three kilometers per hour.
For a driver from Mansfield, Ohio, the sudden braking happened multiple times at speeds of 25 to 70 miles per hour, as per complaint filed with NHTSA. A clinical social worker from Kansas said her 2021 Atlas Cross Sport tried to stop multiple times while she was driving on roads, often while it was decelerating.
As the the documents filed with the US safety agency, Volkswagen is working on a repair. Owners will get letters telling them of the safety risk starting May 10, and a second one will be sent when the solution is available.
Documents filed by Volkswagen with the government show that the company started getting complaints about the braking issue in 2020 but the company initially handled the problem as a regular quality issue. In 2021, the company started analyzing parts taken from vehicles, and it found the corrosion problem in a lab. Then in February 2022, NHTSA asked for a meeting after seeing consumer complaints where Volkswagen decided to issue a recall on March 4, “out of an abundance of caution," as per the documents.
(with inputs from the AP)