Pleasanton, CA – Aug 27, 2020 – Volkswagen (OTCMKTS: VWAGY) has recalled 4,854 vehicles with faulty front-seat backrests that may break in the event of a crash. The recall includes:
- 2020 Volkswagen Jetta compact cars
- 2020 Audi Q5 and SQ5 compact SUVs
- 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SUVs
- 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport SUVs
- 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan SUVs
The seat-back adjustment mechanism on these vehicles’ front seats was not “welded properly” and may break if the car is rear-ended.
Volkswagen discovered the issue in July during a road test but it is not the first time the company faces backrest woes.
If the backrest breaks during a rear-end crash, the occupants of both the front and back seats may be hurt by the instability.
The breakage is especially perilous for children in the backseat who could suffer the worst of the injuries and even be killed. In a 2016 verdict, Volkswagen’s Audi unit was ordered to pay $124.5 million to the parents of Jesse Rivera Jr. after a weak driver’s seat broke during a crash and collapsed into the seven-year-old, leaving him with permanent brain damage.
The company argued that neither the driver – the boy’s father – nor the child wore seat belts, a fact that the family denied.
A 1960s standard
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standard for seat back strength has not been updated since the 1960s and – as of 2016 – the bar was set so low that even a cheap banquet chair could pass.
Despite that, several manufacturers have increased the seat strength and the NHTSA may be moving in the same direction. Last July, the agency released a study showing that the seat back rotation should be reduced to “prevent injury to the seat occupant and occupants seated directly behind it.”
Where to put children
The backseat is still the safest place for children, though safety experts now recommend putting children behind unoccupied seats or the lightest front seat passenger.
Not all the recalled vehicles are certain to have defective backrests, but owners may be able to tell that there’s something wrong if the backrest is unstable or makes noises. Regardless of whether anything appears wrong, it is recommended that owners contact their dealer without delay.
Volkswagen will inspect the front seats to see if they’re defective, and will replace any seats if needed, free of charge. This remedy is currently available, and should take less than half a day, but may take longer if a replacement seat is needed.
Is your vehicle part of this recall?
Over 4,000 vehicles are part of this Volkswagen recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.