In early April 2023, Volkswagen of America announced a recall of 143,053 SUVs, specifically the 2018-2021 Atlas and the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport models, due to a defect in the front passenger airbag system.

The issue involves a potential malfunction in the occupant detection system, resulting in incorrect passenger detection and subsequent deactivation of the airbag. This defect poses an increased risk of injury to the front seat passenger, as the airbag may not deploy in the event of a crash.

Approximately 3% of all Atlas and Atlas Cross Sports currently on the road are affected by this recall. Volkswagen informed officials at the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSTA) that they are currently developing a fix and will notify owners as soon as a remedy becomes available.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or accidents associated with the airbag defect at this time. As a precautionary measure, Volkswagen advises owners of recalled models not to allow anyone to occupy the front passenger seat until the issue is resolved.

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    VW Airbag Recall Overview

    Owners are alerted if the front passenger airbag has switched off through an error message and an audible warning from the vehicle’s instrument panel light. Drivers may also experience a Volkswagen airbag light. As a precautionary measure, NHTSA is advising owners to avoid having front-seat passengers until the issue is resolved and the necessary repairs are completed.

    It is worth noting that approximately one year ago, Volkswagen issued a recall for over 246,000 SUVs in the United States and Canada due to faulty wiring problems.

    These wiring issues caused the vehicles to unexpectedly brake, including instances of sudden braking while in traffic. The severity of the problem was underscored by nearly 50 complaints filed by concerned individuals with safety regulators, including NHSTA. Some drivers reported near collisions, as other vehicles were caught off guard by the abrupt braking.

    What causes the VW Atlas airbag error?

    According to the NHTSA recall report, the root cause of the Volkswagen Atlas airbag error lies within the vehicle’s passenger occupant detection system, known as Body Sense.

    This system is connected to the seat’s heating system via a wire located underneath the front passenger seat. Specifically, the detection sensor, which is situated within the bottom cushion of the passenger seat, is linked to the heated-seat system through this wire.

    When a person occupies the seat, Body Sense is designed to activate a sensor that readies the airbag for deployment in the event of a crash. If the sensor is not properly connected, however, the driver will notice an airbag warning light illuminated on the dashboard, accompanied by an error message displaying “Passenger Airbag OFF.”

    Please note that this issue is not present in newer Atlas vehicles manufactured after October 2022. Volkswagen has addressed the airbag problem in newer vehicles by implementing a new shielded cable.

    Which years are included in the Volkswagen Atlas recall?

    The 2023 Volkswagen airbag recall includes 2018-2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vehicle models.

    Do any other Volkswagen vehicles experience airbag issues?

    It is worth noting that drivers of various other Volkswagen models have reported airbag issues to the NHTSA. These reports have identified potential problems with the airbag systems in the following 2018-2022 vehicles:

    • Jetta
    • Passat
    • Taos
    • Tiguan

    What should I do if my VW experiences airbag issues?

    If you are experiencing airbag issues with your VW vehicle and you have presented it to an authorized Volkswagen dealership for repairs, you may be eligible for remedies under the California Lemon Law.

    If your case qualifies, pursuing an individual lemon law claim can prove to be a beneficial option. Through an individual lemon law claim, you can seek legal recourse and potentially obtain compensation for having a vehicle with a faulty airbag system.

    The California Lemon Law is specifically designed to protect consumers who have purchased or leased vehicles with persistent defects, ensuring that they are not left with unsafe or unreliable vehicles. The Lemon Law establishes a legal framework that empowers you to seek resolution and hold the auto manufacturer accountable for producing vehicles that do not meet safety and quality standards.

    There are a few remedies available with a successful California Lemon Law claim. The potential remedies include having the manufacturer repurchase or replace the defective.

    A lemon law repurchase is where the manufacturer reimburses the consumer all monies spent towards the ‘lemon’ vehicle including the down payment, monthly payments (minus a usage fee), reimbursement of all incidental expenses related to the lemon such as tow or rental car expenses and pays off any remaining loan balance or lease payments.

    A lemon law replacement is where the manufacturer replaces the lemon vehicle for one that is substantially similar to the lemon.  With this option, the consumer may be responsible for any difference in price and any applicable usage fee.  By pursuing a lemon law claim, one can alleviate the financial burden and inconvenience of owning a defective vehicle, and get into a safer and more reliable new car.

    To properly pursue a lemon law claim, we recommend seeking the assistance of an attorney who specializes in lemon law cases. They will guide you throughout the process, evaluate the viability of your claim, and offer personalized advice tailored to your specific circumstances. With their expertise, you can navigate the legal complexities and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable resolution to the airbag issues.

    Be sure to gather and document all relevant evidence, such as repair records, communication with the manufacturer, and expert evaluations, if you are interested in pursuing an individual case. This documentation will strengthen your case and support your claim for compensation.

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    Contact the Volkswagen Lemon Law Experts

    If you are experiencing airbag problems with your VW vehicle in California, it is crucial to seek professional assistance to navigate the complexities of the lemon law. In such circumstances a top lemon law firm like the Lemon Law Experts can help you.

    With our expertise and extensive experience in handling lemon law cases, we have proudly assisted thousands of California consumers over the past decade. We possess a deep understanding of the intricacies of the law and how it applies to VW airbag issues, ensuring that your case is handled with utmost proficiency and accuracy.

    Our team of skilled lemon law attorneys has a wealth of experience in dealing with VW and other automakers. We are well-versed in the tactics employed by manufacturers and can effectively counter their strategies to protect your rights as a consumer.

    With meticulous attention to detail, we will diligently evaluate your case, gather relevant evidence, and construct a compelling legal argument to support your claim.

    Do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free, no-obligation consultation if you have any questions about your situation. Our dedicated team is here to provide guidance and support, helping you navigate the complexities of the lemon law and pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.