Amidst the fallout surrounding the terrible dieselgate admission that it purposely rigged the emissions control systems of certain diesel-engined cars to circumvent tough emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe, German automaker Volkswagen has quietly announced a recall of some 993 cars to fix a faulty Passenger Occupant Detection System (PODS) module which could result in incorrect operation of the airbag system of affected cars.
According to papers filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on October 7, the recall affects three different 2015 model-year Volkswagen Models made between 2 April 2014 and December 3, 2014: the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta, 2015 Volkswagen Golf and 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
A total of 721 Jetta models are believed to be affected, along with 268 Golf models and just 4 e-Golfs.
Connected to a sensor embedded in the front seat of modern cars, PODS is designed to detect if there is a passenger located in the front seat of the car, as well as determine the weight of that passenger. When functioning normally, PODS then programs the air bag deployment system parameters to ensure that it correctly deploys in the event of a collision without significant injury to the passenger.
If the system cannot properly detect the presence of an occupant in the front seat, the airbag system may fail to deploy at all. If it fails to correctly determine the weight of the front seat passenger, it may deploy the air bags with too much or too little force, resulting in additional injury to the front-seat passenger.
In the case of the malfunctioning PODS in affected Volkswagen Jetta, Golf and e-Golf cars, Volkswagen says in its official recall documentation that “an electromagnetic coil inside the PODS control module was manufactured with improper insulation between the coil layers which can cause the characteristics of the coil to change over time. In turn, the PODS control module may not properly classify a front passenger seat occupant, or it may completely fail.”
“Should this occur, vehicle occupants will be alerted of a problem by illumination of the airbag monitoring light or by false indication of the Passenger Airbag OFF indicator,” it continues. If that happens, it warns, “a front passenger seat occupant risks injury in a crash because a malfunctioning PODS system may not make the correct airbag deployment decision for the type of occupant seated there.”
Volkswagen says it was first notified by its parts manufacturer IEE S.A. of Luxembourg that there was a problem with the part back in July this year, prompting a risk evaluation to take place during August and September. By the end of September, it determined the appropriate action to take and notified NHTSA of its recall.
At the time of writing, Volkswagen says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries sustained as a result of this manufacturing defect, and will be contacting all affected owners in the near future. Inspection and replacement of the affected part will happen at an authorised Volkswagen dealership free of charge, with repairs expected to take place next month.
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