Feds Looking into Whether VW Should Recall More Models for Defective Airbags
Federal regulators are tightening their focus on a probe into whether a 2015 VW recall covered enough vehicles and a fixed problem involving defective airbags that may not deploy in the event of a crash. According to Forbes news report, the action covers about 1.2 million 2010 to 2014 models including the CC, Passat, Eos, Golf, GTI, Tiguan, Jetta and the Jetta Sportwagen. In 2015, the automaker recalled about 415,000 vehicles for clock-spring failure, which could keep the airbag from working.
Volkswagen reportedly knew about the problem for years, according to chronology it provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The automaker first learned about the possible defect in December 2011. In May 2012, VW’s safety committee had examined the matter and concluded that the clock-spring failure rate was low and that it has no impact on vehicle safety.
Intensifying the Investigation
In March 2015, NHTSA began its investigation after getting nine complaints from vehicle owners, which led to the 2015 recall. But, last November, NHTSA officials said they continued to get complaints from owners of other models including failures on some vehicles that were supposedly fixed. Other owners said the clock-spring failed, but VW refused to pay for a repair because their VIN number was not covered by the recall.
One owner wrote to NHTSA in 2015 that the problem he had in his vehicle was identical to what other recalled vehicles faced and was a safety issue, but that the automaker would not fix it for free. The agency then conducted what is known as a “recall query” to see if VW recalled all the necessary vehicles. Now, NHTSA officials are saying that the recall query found reason enough to intensify the probe into an “engineering analysis,” which is only one step away from a full-blown recall.
Responsibility of Automakers
Automakers have a responsibility to manufacture vehicles that are safe for consumers. When vehicles have safety defects, manufacturers have the added, important responsibility to report those defects to NHTSA in a timely manner and recall all affected vehicles so they can be repaired. These repairs should be made at no cost to consumers, under federal law. As auto defect attorneys, we hope NHTSA pursues this investigation to the end and requires VW to issue a complete recall including all vehicles with defective airbags, which are currently putting occupants in danger.