As of March 29, 2023, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is officially recalling 143,000 of its big Atlas SUVs in the United States. According to a report filed by Volkswagen(VW) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), due to a faulty sensor located on the front passenger side of specific vehicle models, they can switch the airbag system off under certain conditions. Most modern vehicles have weight sensors located in the front passenger seats in order to detect if a smaller passenger, like a child, is seated there. Airbags that inflate forcefully in the event of a crash can injure small children or smaller individuals.
The sensor installed in the seat is important because in the case that there is an accident, the sensor would notice the weight, will be switched off, and not inflate. The issue behind the faulty sensors is that in some Atlas SUVs, the so-called "passenger occupant detection system" has been noted to indicate that there is a system issue, proactively deactivating the airbag in the passenger seat.
So, in the of a crash or accident, this error could leave front seat passengers without the protection of the airbag. VW investigators have noted that while it's still unclear what's causing the problem, they have been able to determine that the issues happening in Atlases are isolated to the SUVs built during two specific time periods. The Atlases affected, with a seven-seat SUV that was designed specifically for the US market and are built at VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory.
According to the report, the VW vehicles that have been named in the recall are the following SUVs:
- Atlas year models 2018-2021
- Atlas Cross Sport SUVs year model 2020
While the report says the problem is "highly sporadic," VW is urging that drivers avoid allowing people to ride in the passenger seat until the issue can be corrected. According to VW spokesperson Mark Gillie, as of now, Volkswagen is unaware of any injuries that may have resulted from the airbag problem. Owners of the SUVs in question are warned that if the problem does occur, a warning light will illuminate inside the vehicle. While VW has not determined how to solve the problem yet, according to documents VW filed with NHTSA, once the issue is resolved, they claim any repairs needed to correct the airbag sensors will be done free of charge.
Volkswagen says that the owners of recalled Atlas SUVs will be notified via mail by May 26, 2023. Then once a repair is available, they will resend letters to owners. Until then, those concerned VW owners can also contact the NHTSA's auto safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236. We also urge that owners of the recalled SUVs contact an attorney for more information on the recall. The Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69FB.
It Seems As Though Airbags Are Being Recalled Left and Right
The Volkswagen recall is one in a long line of recalls made by the NHTSA. Over the last two decades, airbags have been recalled due to malfunctioning designs or faulty parts. In the early 2000s, multiple car manufacturers have recalled vehicle after vehicle equipped with defective airbags. More famously, those cars recalled have been fitted with the Takata airbags––which come with a history of reports claiming the airbags deploy abnormally.
However, authorities and manufacturers only began to recognize the grand scale of issues surrounding the airbags in the late 2000s and early 2010s after a series of Takata airbag injuries and fatalities occurred. Then again, nearly a decade later, in 2019 and 2020, more Takata airbags were recalled separately from the original safety recalls due to similar concerns.
These newer recalls have informed drivers that their airbags may explode or fail to inflate correctly due to defective inflators. Unfortunately, multiple injuries and deaths have been linked to the faulty airbags over the years. According to the NHTSA, vehicles with potentially faulty inflators include those from car makers like BMW, Audi, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Isuzu.
Victims of either the Volkswagen airbags or any of the previously mentioned vehicle companies may be eligible for compensation for their injuries. For more information on the Volkswagen airbag recall or the recent recalls for the Takata airbags, you can check back with us here for updates.
If you believe you or someone you know has been injured due to a recalled VW SUV, we may be able to help you. For more information, you can connect with one of our attorneys today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.