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 cooling and braking systems have issues.


2018 VW Atlas Manufacturer Communications


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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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.

General Motors have announced that a defect affecting vehicles safety exists in certain 2018 GMC Terrain vehicles, and they will be asking owners to return to their dealerships to have the problem repaired.

According to the defect report, the sensing diagnostic module (SDM) used to deploy the airbags during a crash, may not power down correctly when the vehicle is powered off. If this happens, the SDM could become inoperative, and when the vehicle is started the airbags may not deploy in the event of a crash. Drivers will be alerted of a problem through an illuminated airbag warning lamp, a “service restraint system” message in the main display and an audible warning chime will sound.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the SDM with updated software. Owners may contact GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM’s number for this recall is 18179 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-340.

As the NHTSA launches phase three of the Takata air bag recall, an additional 3.3 million inflators will be added to the list. Approximately 34 million vehicles are currently under recall for approximately 46 million defective Takata air bags that can explode when the air bag deploys. The phased recall, which began in May 2016 and is expected to continue through December 2019, will affect a total of 65-70 million airbags.

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Nissan will be contacting a small number of 2018 Versa Note owners because their vehicles could fail to meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for side impact protection. According to the defect report, some vehicles may be equipped with an Autoliv side curtain air bag inflator that was manufactured out of specification. A component within the aribag could detach during deployment potentially causing injury to vehicle occupants.

Those receiving notices will be asked to return to their Nissan dealership to have the side curtain air bags replaced. For more information about the problem owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261. The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 17V-837.

Chrysler will be contacting the owners of certain 2018 Jeep Compass vehicles regarding a manufacturing problem affecting the passenger air bag (PAB). According to the defect report, certain PAB inflator mounting nuts withing the module assembly may have not been sufficiently tightened and could become dangerous projectile during an airbag deployment.

Those receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealer to have the passenger airbag module assembly replaced. For more information about the problem, owners are asked to contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T73 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-732.

Chrysler will be contacting the owners of certain 2012-2013 Chrysler 200, 2012-2013 Dodge Avenger and 2011-2012 Jeep Liberty vehicles for a problem affecting the occupant restraint controller (ORC). According to the defect report, electrical stress in the ORC could lead to an internal failure which will result in the inability to deploy active headrests during certain rear end crashes. If this happens, it may increase the risk of injury to front seat occupants.

Chrysler will ask owners to return to their dealers to have the ORC inspected and replaced as necessary. Owners wanting more information about the defect can contact FCA customer service at 1-800-853-1403. FCA’s number for this recall is T56 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-640.

Chrysler will be contacting the owners of certain 2011-2015 Dodge Journey SUVs regarding an electrical problem affecting the airbag system. According to the defect report, some vehicles may experience a trapped steering wheel wire harness between the steering wheel back cover tab and the edge of the horn plate. The wire insulation could become damaged, creating a short and an inadvertent airbag deployment. Drivers may be alerted of a problem through an illuminated airbag warning light; unintended wiper operation; inoperable steering wheel switch; inoperable speed control switch; or an inoperable multi-function switch.

Owners receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealerships to have the steering wheel wiring inspected and replaced as necessary. A protective cover will also be installed. For more information about the recall, owners can contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T47 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-432.