Volkswagen had been a trusted brand for decades. But it is still recovering from its $14.7 billion settlement in 2016 for cheating on its clean air certifications for its diesel engines. The fallout from that settlement will be felt for years as the German manufacturer continues to pay plaintiffs.
Now the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced another recall involving the physical ignition keys in the Beetle (2012-2019 models), Golf (2015-2016 and 2018-2019), Golf SportWagon (2017-2019), GTI (2015-2019) and Jetta (2011-2018). As with the July 2018 recall, which only included 33,168 SportWagon models, the keys can be removed from the ignition without putting the cars' shift in park. This recall impacts a total of 679,027 vehicles.
Design flaw allows keys to come out
According to the NHTSA, the problem is electrical and related to a switch contact in the gear selector housing for cars with automatic transmissions and flip-out metal ignition keys. A silicate film or layer can form on the contact, thus preventing the switch from detecting whether the vehicle is in park or gear. Unless the hand brake is used, the car can roll on its own if it is in gear.
The good news is that there have been no reported injuries due to this flaw. The bad news is that the solution for fixing this problem is elaborate:
- Change the switch in the gearshift lever housing
- Disable the old switch without removing it
- Connect the new circuit board with wiring harness not part of the original design
Look for those letters
The manufacturer will begin to send out notices this month. However, there is no guarantee that the proposed fix is a long-term remedy. Car owners who have the dealers make these fixes may end up going back again and again.