Air Bags on Volkswagen Vehicles May Not Properly Inflate, Prompting Recall

re: NHTSA campaign 20V056000

Laguna Hills, CA – Feb 6, 2020 – Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VW) is recalling certain 2000-2001 TT Roadster, 2000 TT Coupe, 1999 Audi A8, 1998-2000 Audi A6, and 1999-2000 Audi A4 vehicles. This recall involves air bag components. These vehicles are equipped with Non-Azide Driver air bag inflators (NADI) that, due to a manufacturing issue, may absorb moisture, which can cause the air bag to deploy improperly in the event of a crash. 

The potential number of units affected is estimated at 106,857.

The Defect:

The affected vehicles are equipped with Takata NADI inflators that lack phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN). The latest in a long line of recalls for these Takata inflators, Volkswagen has determined that these defective products are found in a collection of 1999-2001 vehicles. Due to an insufficient amount of aluminum tape being used, the seal can gradually degrade over time and let moisture into the interior of the inflator. Air bag inflators that are not properly desiccated are at risk of rupturing prematurely or inadequately in the event of a crash. This increases the risk of injury and death in the event of an accident, as the air bag may not be able to properly cushion the occupant. No specific incidents have been reported to Volkswagen as of yet, though the company believes the defect is dangerous enough to prompt a recall.

On October 21, 2019, German car manufacturer Audi, Volkswagen’s parent company, received reports from suppliers about issues with NADI inflators found during field tests. Audi’s safety board was notified a few weeks later in November, and talks with the supplier commenced. After confirming the risk, Audi notified the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the risk and the findings of their investigation so far, and Audi began an analysis of retrieved parts from the German and international markets in early January 2020. Simultaneously, Takata sent out a defect report detailing the issues with the NADI inflators and the danger they posed. Audi independently verified the risk on January 22, 2020, when their own test results showed that there was indeed a risk of slow or no deployment caused by the absorption of moisture. 

After confirming the risk, Audi began to review production records to find vehicles that were equipped with these inflators; a large collection of 1998-2001 vehicles were later determined to be the extent of the recall population. The 1998-2001 A4 vehicle was found to be the most affected, with an estimated 65,519 cars possessing the defective parts. On January 31, Audi and Volkswagen officially filed a notice of recall with the NHTSA, detailing the issue and the planned recall process. On February 5, 2020, the recall notice officially became public.

Solution:

Volkswagen will notify owners of the danger the air bag inflators pose periodically in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the recall. The company will procure replacement parts and ship them out to dealers. Upon commencement of the remedy period, dealers will replace the defective NADI inflators with non-defective ones, free of charge to owners. Due to the risk the defect presents, owners are advised to exercise caution when operating their vehicles. The recall is expected to begin March 27, 2020, though this date is subject to change.

For more information on this or other recalls past or present, visit MotorSafety.org.

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About MotorSafety.org

MotorSafety.org is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to vehicle safety and assisting consumers with the identification and resolution of vehicle manufacturing recalls and defects. Through education, awareness, government relations, repair facility referrals and strategic partnerships, MotorSafety.org hopes to remove every unsafe vehicle from the road, facilitate its proper repair, and ensure its prompt return to the owner once the vehicle has met the required safety and performance standards. For more information about MotorSafety.org, please email support@motorsafety.org.

Marshall EarleyAir Bags on Volkswagen Vehicles May Not Properly Inflate, Prompting Recall

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