NHTSA Steps Up Investigation into VW Tiguan Seatbelt Failure
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has intensified its probe into seatbelt failure in the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan after the seatbelts tore apart in two routine crash tests the agency conducted. According to an article in Consumer Reports, the tests were conducted less than a week apart at two different locations. During the tests, the driver’s seatbelt separated and frayed, completely splitting at the point where the belt is inserted into the buckle, the article states.
Problems Are Cause for Concern
These crash test results led NHTSA to open the an investigation into a potential safety defect and now the agency has stepped it up to an Engineering Analysis, which is the next step in the process. Consumer Reports says that engineering analyses by NHTSA have been few and far between in the last several years. Only four were done in 2017. This investigation could potentially lead to a recall. So far, there have been no complaints to NHTSA about these potential seatbelt defects and no reports of crashes, injuries or fatalities. The 2018 Tiguan has been on sale for about a year.
Volkswagen has been quick to challenge NHTSA’s test saying their vehicles were designed to “meet or exceed safety standards” and that they have done well in internal testing and in other third-party tests such as ones conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The SUV won top ratings in IIHS’s evaluations. Volkswagen believes NHTSA’s testing equipment may be to blame for the seatbelt failures.
However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also concluded that the seatbelts failed because of force during the test that pulled them in opposing directions, and not because of cuts or abrasions. NHTSA has also posted a “Safety Concern” for these vehicles on its website because it also found in addition to the seatbelt issues that during a side-impact test, the left driver door unlatched and opened. NHTSA officials called this “worrisome.”
Investigation Seems to Be Warranted
When you combine NHTSA’s warning after the side-impact test and the seatbelt ripping apart during two separate crash tests, our product defect attorneys agree that it’s more than enough to warrant further investigation. Automakers are going to defend their products and do everything in their power to prevent a recall because recalls are expensive and a PR nightmare for these corporations. However, NHTSA and other federal agencies should do their jobs and put consumer safety first. If you have been injured as a result of a defective auto, contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.