Laguna Hills, CA – July 16, 2019 – Volkswagen Group of North America Inc. is recalling over 138,000 Audi vehicles of various models and years because of an air bag detection issue. The flaw may prevent the system from working in the event of a crash, thus increasing the risk of injury for drivers and occupants. All of the Audi models and body types subject to the safety recall were built between 2015 and 2019, including the A3 Sedan, A3 e-tron, RS3 and S3. Operators of these automobiles should receive a notice from the German automaker no later than Aug. 18 and are encouraged to take their vehicles back to the dealer so the passenger occupant detection system can be repaired free of charge.
According to documentation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation, Volkswagen is recalling approximately 138,896 Audi brand motor vehicles. There are several models involved and include the following:
2016 Audi A3 e-tron
2015-2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet
2015-2019 Audi S3 Sedan
2017-2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet
2019 Audi RS 3
Each of these models potentially suffer from the same issue: a faulty node that causes the passenger occupation detection system to malfunction, thus preventing the air bag from deploying should motorists experience a collision. This dramatically raises the likelihood of injury, depending on the severity of the crash in question. Frequently, when safety recalls are announced, it’s not a guarantee that the vehicles involved have the glitch, but in this case, NHTSA and Volkswagen believe that 100% of them have the flaw, behooving operators to make sure they take their cars off the road so the fix can be installed as soon as possible.
Timeline of Events
The errant air bags first came to the attention of the German automaker in the first quarter of 2018 after receiving several field reports from suppliers of the passenger occupant detection systems. This led to an injury that lasted seven months and ultimately led to the involvement of NHTSA’s product safety committee, where additional research and testing was performed. The investigation ultimately determined that the detection issue traced back to a flawed electrical contact that was preventing the system from communicating the air bag was in place.
While no injuries were reported to authorities, Volkswagen and NHTSA mutually determined that a voluntary safety recall was the best path forward, which the automaker made official on June 19, which was acknowledged by NHTSA a week later.
Air bags were deemed mandatory by the federal government back in 1984, and required automakers to install them in all models tracing back to April 1989. Based on the most recent statistics available from NHTSA, frontal airbags have saved nearly 50,500 lives, with nearly 2,800 traffic fatalities avoided in 2017 alone. In recent years, many of the automotive safety recalls have been related to various issues involving air bags and their proper deployment.
Volkswagen, in consultation with NHTSA, will inform registered owners of the models in question by first-class mail starting on August 18. Recipients of these mailers are encouraged to bring their Audi vehicles back to their nearest dealership so an optimized connecter and cable can be swapped out and replaced with one that is fully functional. As per usual, this repair will come at no expense to the owner.
For more information on this or any other safety recall, visit MotorSafety.org. Simply enter your VIN in the appropriate field to see if your car has an issue that requires fixing.