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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Volkswagen will be contacting the owners of certain 2018 Atlas and 2017-2018 Passat vehicles, to notify them of a problem affecting the vehicles braking system. According to the defect report, the brake caliper carrier (bracket) bolts may have been torqued incorrectly, could loosen and cause the break caliper to move on the steering knuckle (Atlas front brake) or on the axle (Passat rear brake). If this happens, drivers may notice increased stopping distances and reduced vehicle control.

Dealers will inspect the brake caliper bracket bolt for tightness, replacing and re-torque the bolts as necessary. Additionally brake caliper fasteners, bleeder valve, and brake hose bolts will be checked and torqued to the correct specification, if necessary. For Passat vehicles, dealers will also inspect the parking brake cable for proper connection. Owners wanting more information about the problem are asked to contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 46H6 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-536.

Volkswagen will be contacting the owners of certain 2013-2015 Audi A8 and S8 vehicles because of a problem affecting the fuel system.

According to the NHTSA defect report, the high pressure fuel pump supply line could become porous and deteriorate from the inside. The resulting fuel leak may lead to a fuel smell withing the vehicle cabin and a potential fire in the presence of an ignition source.

Audi will be asking owners to return to their dealers to have the fuel line replaced. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 20AV and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-430.

Volkswagen will be asking the owners of certain 2018 Tiguan long wheel base (LWB) vehicles, to return to their dealership to have their rear shock absorbers inspected.

According to the defect report, a mechanical misalignment of the arc welder torch used to fasten the loop to the base assembly, could result in a weak weld between the two parts. If these welds break and the parts separate while the vehicle is operated, drivers could unexpectedly lose control.

Owners experiencing unfamiliar noises coming from the rear suspension of their 2018 VW Tiguan vehicles are asked to return to their dealerships immediately to have the rear shock absorbers inspected and replaced as necessary.

For more information contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 42i7 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-262.

Volkswagen will be contacting the owners of certain later model VW cars, regarding airbags affected by phase three of the Takata airbag recall. The vehicles involved include:

  • 2009-2014 Volkswagen CC
  • 2010-2011 Volkswagen EOS
  • 2010-2014 Volkswagen Golf
  • 2007-2010 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2007-2010 Volkswagen Passat Wagon

As reported by Takata, due to high temperatures and humidity, airbag propellant could degrade over time and cause the airbags to deploy with too much force. In the event of an airbag rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, seriously injuring or killing occupants.

Those receiving notices will be instructed to return to their dealers to have the driver’s frontal air bag inflator replaced. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 69Q9 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-148. Note: This recall partially supersedes recall 16V-078.

Volkswagen will be contacting the owners of certain 2013-2016 Audi A4, A5 & Q5 vehicles regarding a problem affecting the electrical connector to the auxiliary heater. According to the defect report, the connector is susceptible to contact corrosion which may cause the auxiliary heater to fail and/or cause the wires to overheat and melt. The problem could result in an electrical fire.

Owners receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealers to have the auxiliary heater replaced, as necessary. Owners wanting more information about the problem can contact Audi customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s numbers for this recall are 80C5 and 80C6 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-622.

Volkswagen will be asking the owners of certain 2017-2018 Audi A3 vehicles to return to their dealerships to correct a problem affecting the engine control unit (ECU). According to the defect report, the engine air/fuel mixture software is not robust enough. During engine start up or idling, the system may misinterpret the rotation of the dual mass flywheel as a knocking condition. The defect will result in loss of lose motive power when beginning to move from a stop or during a slow acceleration. Drivers will be alerted of a problem through an “Engine Stop While Driving” warning light.

Dealers will correct the problem by reprogramming the ECU software. For more information about the recall, owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 24DF the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-508.

Volkswagen will be contacting the owners of certain 2017 Volkswagen Passat cars regarding a problem that could result in loss of braking power. Improperly manufactured end flares on the brake lines could cause improper sealing that may allow brake fluid to leak and a low fluid waning light to illuminate. If the driver does not notice the warning, braking will worsen over time, increasing the chance of a collision.

Those receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealers to have the affected brake lines replaced. Owners wanting more information about the problem are asked to contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 47N3 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-075.