Although the Volkswagen Atlas has only been in production for three years, it has already gained a reputation for being a problematic vehicle. The 2018 model Atlas, for example, has ten recalls and hundreds of manufacturer communications. (Automobile manufacturers are required to submit copies of their communications to dealers and owners about defects, to the NHTSA.) These documents can be useful to owners because they identify known problems.
Manufacturer communications for the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas show that the electrical, engine and braking have issues.
The top complaint of the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is braking. The vehicles’ automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to reduce crashes, but poorly deigned or calibrated systems have become a safety issue. Drivers say while crossing lanes of traffic or after leveling out from a down slope, the AEB will automatically activate leaving them with no control over the movement of the vehicle. In order to move again, they have to shift the transmission into neutral and restart the engine.
The second biggest complaint about the 2018 Atlas is the engine start-stop technology. Start-stop technology advertises cost savings and environmental benefits, however, repeated engine starts while supplying power to systems when the engine is off, requires powerful batteries and complex systems to run smoothly. These systems are vulnerable to problems, the biggest being batteries that prematurely die and leave drivers stranded.
Air conditioning defects are the third top complaints of the 2018 VW Atlas. If your a/c is blowing warm air, it is most likely low refrigerant pressure. Leaks and blocked condensers can result in worn compressors, failing blower motors and expensive repair cost. In a recall affecting the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, an improperly installed HVAC drain tube allowed moisture to enter the airbag control unit, causing the airbag to unexpectedly deploy. This dangerous driving condition had thousands of owners returning to their dealers for repairs.
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Ford will be contacting the owners of certain 2019 Ford Fiesta vehicles regarding a problem affecting the braking system in their cars.
According to the defect report filed with the NHTSA, the brake calipers were incorrectly labeled at the manufacturer and may have been filled with an incompatible brake fluid. This incompatible lubricant could cause to the seals to swell and develop leaks, which could lead to reduced braking, brake drag and overheating of the brake pads. If the brake fluid becomes low, drivers will be alerted through an illuminated low fluid warning light.
Ford will notify owners instructing them to return to their dealers to flush the brake fluid and replace the front brake calipers. Ford’s number for this recall is 19S27 and the NHTSA campaign number is 19V629000.
Ford will also be contacting the owners of certain Ford and Lincoln vehicles because of a problem affecting steering. The vehicles affected include:
- 2015-2016 Ford Edge
- 2013-2016 Ford Edge
- 2016 Lincoln MKX
- 2013-2016 Lincoln MKZ
According to the defect report, an improper application of anti corrosion wax on the steering gear motor attachment bolts may result in corrosion of the bolts. As a result, the steering gear motor could become loose or detaching from the gear housing and power steering assist would be lost.
Owners will be asked to return to their Ford or Lincoln dealers to have the wax sealer applied to the steering gear motor bolts. Ford’s number for this recall is 19S27 and the NHTSA campaign number is 19V629000.
Toyota will be contacting the owners of certain 2019-2010 Toyota and Lexus vehicles regarding a problem affecting the braking and stability control systems. The vehicles involved include:
- 2019 Lexus ES300H
- 2019 Lexus LC500
- 2019 Lexus LS500
- 2019 Lexus LS500 H
- 2019 Lexus U250 Hybrid
- 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid
- 2019 Toyota Prius
- 2019-2020 Toyota Prius Prime
- 2019 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid
The affected vehicles have a brake booster pump with an accumulator and a pump motor which contains a plastic brush holder to hold the motor brushes. It is possible that the plastic brush holder may have been manufactured improperly, causing one of the brushes to become stuck in the brush holder. If this happens, the brush would be unable to maintain an electrical connection inside the motor and may cause the pump motor to stop operating.
If the pump motor stops operating, multiple warning lights and messages will illuminate, and/or audible chimes will sound. Depending on brake fluid pressure in the accumulator and brake pedal stroke amount, braking assist could be lost completely and the Vehicle Stability Control system will become deactivated. A sudden and complete loss of braking assist while driving could increase the vehicle stopping distance and may increase the risk of a crash. Further, deactivating the Vehicle Stability Control system may cause the subject vehicles to not meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 126, paragraph S5.1.2.
Owners receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealers to have the brake booster pump inspected and replaced as necessary. Toyota’s numbers for this recall are K1L/K0L. Lexus’ numbers for this recall are K2F/KLF. The NHTSA Campaign Number is 19V544000.
General Motors has decided that a defect relating to vehicle safety exists in certain 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab trucks. There is a chance that the retainer ring inside the passenger airbag module was damaged during the assembly process and may allow gas to escape during an airbag inflation. This would reduce the amount of gas available to fill the airbag, increasing the risk of injury to passengers during certain crashes.
Dealers will correct the problem by replacing the passenger side air bag module. GM’s number for this recall is N182198820 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-868.
Daimler will be contacting the owners of certain 2015-2019 Mercedes Benz rear drive model vehicles for a problem affecting the steering. The vehicles affected by this recall include:
- 2015-2019 Mercedes Benz C300
- 2018-2019 Mercedes Benz C350E
- 2017-2019 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG
- 2015, 2018 Mercedes Benz C63S AMG
- 2019 Mercedes Benz CLS450
- 2018 Mercedes Benz E300
- 2018 Mercedes Benz E400
- 2019 Mercedes Benz E450
According to the defect report, a production deviation of the rear wheel drive steering rack lock nut could result in internal material cracks that reduce the nuts strength. If a large lateral force, such as hitting a curb could cause the lock nut to break and the steering to become fixed in one position. There is no advanced warning that the lock nut could fail.
Owners receiving recall notices will be asked to return to their dealerships to have the steering rack replaced.
If you are the owner of a 2017-2018 Audi R8 Spyder or R8 Coupe, you may be receiving a manufacturer defect notice for the power train of your vehicle. According to the defect report filed with the NHTSA, during extreme maneuvers the transmission fluid could expand and foam up beyond the expansion volume in the gearbox, causing the transmission fluid to leak out of the gearbox ventilation hose. The fluid could contact hot engine parts, causing smoke and a possible fire.
Dealers will correct the problem by adding a double ventilation hose that has a higher oil expansion volume. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 34J1 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-639.
Kia Motors will be asking the owners of certain 2018 Stinger cars to return to their dealerships to repair a problem affecting the electrical system of their vehicles. According to the defect report filed with the NHTSA, a wire harness within the engine on the passenger side could contact a burr on the fender body panel, causing insulation damage and a potential short. The short could generate sufficient heat that it could result in an engine fire. Drivers will be alerted of a problem through an illuminated malfunction indicator lamp or the activation of “limp home mode”.
Dealers will inspect the wiring harness for damage and replace it as necessary. A fender plug and wire harness cover will be installed to prevent future damage. Kia’s number for this recall SC170 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-754.
Ford will be contacting the owners of certain 2012-2018 Focus 2.0L GDI and 2.0L GTDI vehicles for a problem affecting the fuel system. According to the defect report, the power-train control module may not detect a malfunctioning Canister Purge Valve (CPV) stuck in the open position. Excessive vacuum in the fuel vapor management system could deform the the fuel tank, giving inaccurate fuel gauge readings and drivability problems.
Note: Owners are advised to keep the fuel tank at least halfway full until the vehicle has been serviced.
Dealers will correct the problem by reprogramming the Powertrain Control Module. They will also check for fault codes and replace the CPV, the carbon canister, fuel tank and fuel delivery module as necessary. Ford’s number for this recall is 18S32 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-735.