Volkswagen Recalls Convertibles with Defective Safety Belts

Auburn Hill, Mich. – March 20, 2017 – Volkswagen Group of America has recalled more than 1,600 vehicles equipped with defective safety belts. The recall affects Audi A5 and S5 cabriolets produced between June and November 2016, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The Defect

Impacted vehicles have safety-belt pretensioners that could detach during a high-velocity crash. Consequently, the microgas generators contained within these fixtures may also disconnect and become airborne within the cabin, putting passengers at risk. While the pretensioners addressed in this recall are installed in a whole range of Audi models, engineers have discovered that microgas generators only come loose in A5 and S5 cabriolets. This is a result of ineffective crimping unique to these vehicles.

Timeline of Events

In December 2016, Autoliv, the OEM manufacturer that supplied the safety belt pretensioner assemblies, notified Volkswagen that its products were defective due to an assembly line oversight. It also communicated that a 573 report on its pretensioners and microgas generators was forthcoming. Members of the car maker’s Product Safety Committee discussed the matter over multiple sessions that took place throughout December 2016 and January 2017. The group ultimately decided there was not enough data to call for a voluntary recall and asked Autoliv to supply further information.

The parts producer submitted specific serial numbers for installed pretensioners and microgas generators in January. Volkswagen engineers reviewed the information and conducted field tests that lasted through the following month. On March 1, the auto manufacturer decided to initiate a voluntary recall for Audi A5 and S5 models, both of which performed poorly in trials.

The Solution

Volkswagen will order dealers to replace defective safety belt pretensioners and microgas generators. It does not plan to reimburse owners for these repairs. There are no timelines for dealer or owner notification.

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