Volkswagen AG is recalling more than 80,000 SUVs and hybrid sedans for electrical issues that could cause headlight and taillight failures.
The first of the two recalls, filed through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers approximately 78,000 Tiguan SUVs from the 2009 through 2011 model years sold in the US and Canada that may contain faulty fuse boxes that could overheat and melt, leading to an unexpected loss of exterior lighting.
This sudden loss of lighting can cause a significant accident threat for drivers at night. Without headlight function, drivers can become unable to see the road ahead, and without taillight function, vehicles following behind may not recognize braking until it is too late to avoid a rear end collision.
The recall comes at the conclusion of a federal investigation launched earlier this month after the NHTSA received 26 complaints from owners detailing a partial or complete loss of head and tail lights. “The reports suggest the problem worsens over time with additional exterior lighting malfunctioning as the problem progresses. Most of the complaints report finding an overheated and melted fuse box in the under-hood fuse box,” says the safety agency.
In one complaint filed in October, an owner of a 2011 Tiguan SUV reported an intermittent loss of exterior lighting when driving beyond 60 miles per hour. A dealership replaced the fuse box of the vehicle, which had covered just 35,000 miles. Another complaint citing exterior lighting failures said that a dealership required $630 to repair the vehicle, and that the dealership could not guarantee that the problem would not reappear.
Volkswagen will begin notifying owners of the recall starting in December, when they will be offered a free replacement of the fuse box with an upgraded unit better designed against overheating.
A smaller, secondary recall covering just 3,837 2013-2014 Jetta Hybrid cars was also announced over issues with the internal gearbox lead frame, which could rust as a result of transmission fluid additives. This rusting then has the potential to gather in between electrical wiring, which can lead to a shorting of the power supply, resulting in blown gearbox fuses and a failure of the gearbox hydraulic pump. In some cases, vehicles may lose power, but they can still be brought to a coasting stop, says Volkswagen.
No instances of the failure have yet been reported in the United States, though some reports have been submitted in foreign markets. Volkswagen will again notify owners starting in December. To repair the issue, dealerships will replace the standard synthetic gearbox oil with a new mineral based oil that will not rust the gearbox frame.
As a vehicle owner, responding quickly to a recall notice is essential to ensuring your safety on the road. When a recall is announced, a widespread defect has been identified that could cause harm, even in otherwise normal driving conditions. In virtually all cases, repairs are offered at no cost, and will return your vehicle to proper working condition, helping to keep you safe from the threat of accidents.