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Volkswagen Atlas Recalled Because Water May Trigger Airbags

Consumer Reports logo Consumer Reports 9/7/2018 Keith Barry

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Volkswagen is recalling 9,685 of its 2018 Atlas SUVs because the airbags may deploy unintentionally, which could injure the vehicle’s occupants.

The issue stems from an improperly installed air-conditioning drain tube that can leak excess condensation from the SUV’s air- conditioning system onto an airbag control module (essentially the computer chip that determines when airbags should be deployed) instead of draining outside the vehicle. If the airbag control module gets wet, the vehicle’s airbags could deploy unintentionally, Volkswagen says.

Volkswagen said that it received one report of curtain airbags deploying “without cause” on June 14, 2018.

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Because the twisted tube may also leak water into the passenger compartment, drivers of affected vehicles may notice a foul odor or a wet carpet inside the vehicle. Warning lights, including those for the airbags, may be illuminated on the dashboard, Volkswagen said.

This is the seventh recall for the Atlas, a vehicle that is in its first model year. Other recalls address issues with the airbags, brakes, car seat anchors, and fuel tank.

Volkswagen did not respond to a request for comment.

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The Details

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Vehicles recalled: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUVs manufactured between Nov. 17, 2016 and Aug. 18, 2017.

The problem: An improperly installed air conditioner drain could leak water into the passenger compartment and onto an airbag control module, which could set off the airbags unintentionally.

The fix: VW dealers will inspect the drain tube. If it is twisted, dealers will replace both the hose and the airbag control module at no charge to owners.

How to contact the manufacturer: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the recall will begin on or before Oct. 14, 2018. Owners may contact Volkswagen directly at 1-800-893-5298.

NHTSA campaign number: 18V-537. Volkswagen’s own number for this recall is 87F9.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug in the 17-digit vehicle identification number into the NHTSA’s website and this recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see if your vehicle has had a recall issued.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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