Auburn Hills, Mich. – June 21 – Volkswagen is recalling vehicles for one of its popular product lines due to seat belt buckle and miscommunication issue that may increase the risk of an injury in the event of a collision.
On June 15, Volkswagen Group of America notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that some of its 2018 Atlas models are equipped with seat belts that may not function as they’re intended if seats aren’t used for their intended purpose, a problem that may affect more than 54,500 passenger vehicles.
According to documentation submitted to NHTSA, the vehicles subject to the recall include owner’s manuals with insufficient information regarding the child restraints attached to the seats in the second row. Some of the owners’ manuals fail to provide specifics about what size of child can fit in the center position without potentially compromising the adjacent seat belt buckles. If seat bases or boosters wider than 12.6 inches are installed, the seat belt buckles may fail to latch, potentially resulting in a passenger’s injury in the aftermath of a collision.
The affected cars have vehicle identification numbers ranging between 1V2NR2CA2JCT00090 and 1V2KR2CA8JC577159.
Timeline of Events
The German automaker first became aware of the issue back in May of last year, when a Volkswagen employee happened upon a damaged safety belt buckle in the second row of an Atlas vehicle, based on a chronology of events compiled by NHTSA . What at the time was believed to be an isolated incident proved otherwise, as by September, Volkswagen received numerous complaints from owners experiencing the same seat buckle issue. This spawned an investigation as to the source of the problem, which was determined through crash testing procedures and an internal review. The Volkswagen AG Product Safety Commission determined the defect and insufficient owner’s manual information warranted a recall as of May 30.
Motorists affected by the recall are urged to take their Atlas vehicles to their local Volkswagen dealership, cautioned the NHTSA recall document. Additionally, the German automaker says that no later than August 3, it will proceed with notifying all owners and dealers to inspect the second row center seat belt buckles for signs of a potential flaw and schedule a repair. Owners will not have to pay for the fix if they coordinate with their dealer. Alternatively, owners can get in touch with Volkswagen directly by dialing 1-800-5298 and use 69X1 as a reference code.
Seat belts have proven to save thousands of lives in the millions of accidents that occur in the U.S. each year. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, motorists’ buckling up saved an estimated 14,668 lives, according to NHTSA. An additional 2,456 lives would have been saved had everyone who was in an accident in 2016 strapped themselves in.
For more information on seat belt safety and the Volkswagen recall, visit NHTSA’s recall website.