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Volkswagen recalls 7 models for airbag connections

Faulty steering wheel electric connection could result in airbag failure

Published: August 14, 2015, 11:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:45 PM

Volkswagen GTI - The sixth-generation Volkswagen GTI paid homage to the very first GTI with its golfball-sized shifter, plaid seats and distinctive red stripe highlighting the grille. And despite 35 years of weight gain, VW’s front-drive “hot hatch” recaptured the friskiness of the original thanks to its turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine, good for 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. It featured Audi’s stratified direct fuel injection system, which squirted gasoline precisely into each cylinder for better combustion, economy and a cooler running engine that, in turn, permitted higher compression.

Volkswagen is recalling seven models from model years 2010 through 2014 to correct a steering problem that could render the steering wheel airbag non-functional, possibly endangering the driver’s life in a crash situation.

Volkswagen - 165 PP100 – Volkswagen and its affiliated brands, including Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Skoda, may be vying for world domination (it’s currently the second largest automaker behind Toyota), but in North America it’s still working to address some longstanding reliability issues. Over the past decade, Volkswagen vehicles have fared poorly in the J.D. Power dependability studies, often ranking among the bottom three or four brands – but its stock in trade is slowly rising.

Affected are Volkswagen CC models from model years 2010-14, Eos (2010-13), Golf/GTI (2011-14), Jetta (2010-13, including SportWagen from 2011-13), U.S.-built Passat (2010-14, as well as 2010 Passats built in Germany) and Tiguan (2010-14). Approximately 461,300 vehicles are affected by the recall, with 41,300 in Canada and 420,000 in the U.S.

The recall involves the steering wheel clock spring – the coiled electrical connection to the airbag and horn that allows the steering wheel to wind and unwind without fear of pinching the connection – which could become compromised by hairs or other long fibres that could bind and cause the internal guide loops to become displaced.

Volkswagen Golf (Jetta) Wagon

If that happens, they could apply tension to the internal flat cable and cause it to tear, which could lead to a loss of electrical connection to the horn and, more importantly, the airbag. That would cause the airbag to fail in a front-end crash situation, when it’s needed most to protect the driver.

2013 Volkswagen EOS - Front 3/4 view

The first indication that there might be a problem with the connection is that the airbag monitoring light will illuminate (indicating there is a failure in the airbag system). If that happens, the owner is requested to immediately contact the nearest Volkswagen dealer to have the vehicle inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

Otherwise, owners of potentially affected vehicles will be contacted by the company in order to have vehicles checked and repaired.