Volkswagen Recalls Nearly 250,000 SUVs in the US & Canada: Here’s Why

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Volkswagen will recall nearly 250,000 SUVs in North America due to faulty wiring that may cause vehicles to brake unexpectedly in traffic. The company made the decision after The Associated Press reported that 47 drivers had told U.S. safety regulators about the issue.

At a Glance

  • Volkswagen recalls 246,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada after drivers reported dangerous brake issues.
  • Some people claimed their vehicles would stop in the middle of traffic and nearly cause accidents.
  • In some cases, warning lights would flash and alarms would sound during the malfunctions.
  • Drivers have been complaining about the issue since late 2020.
  • Last year, VW engineers learned that wire corrosion was causing the problem.

Volkswagen set to recall SUVs After Driver Report Strange Brake Malfunctions

On March 15, The AP wrote that people had been complaining about the strange problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since late 2020. But nothing had been done. 2020 and 2021 VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs were affected.

When the glitches occur, SUVs stop with no warning. In some cases, alarms sound and warning lights flash. And often, the driver’s side window will roll down on its own.

“It literally feels like the car is possessed,” Volkswagen owner Kendall Heiman said. “I’m not feeling like I’m driving my car. My car is driving me.”

So far, the malfunction hasn’t caused any injuries. However, some people have shared that there were some close calls.

Three days after The AP reported the issues, Volkswagen made the announcement. On Friday, the company recalled certain 2019 through 2023 Atlas SUVs and 2020 through 2023 Atlas Cross Sports.

In documents given to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company wrote that the electrical contacts on a wiring harness inside the front doors can corrode, which interrupts electrical connections. When that happens, the parking brake can activate unexpectantly and side airbags could deploy late in a crash.

VW added that the vehicles can stop without warning while driving slower than 1.8 mph. However, most people who’ve experienced the glitch were going much faster. One person from Mansfield, Ohio, said that their SUV came to jarring stops while driving at speeds of 25 to 70 mph.

When people took their vehicles to service centers, VW did not have the parts to fix the problem. And in some cases, the SUVs sat at shops for over two months. Some dealerships handed out loaner cars. But not all drivers were so lucky.

Initially, the company treated the malfunction as a quality issue. But after various reports with the NHTSA, engineers looked into the problem and learned about the corrosion threat.