— A Volkswagen Atlas door wiring harness class action lawsuit alleges 2019-2023 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020-2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport SUVs suddenly brake on their own and the airbags won't deploy during crashes.
Massachusetts plaintiff Price McMahon leased a new VW Atlas in February 2021 and soon experienced problems with the wiring harness when the parking brake engaged while driving and warning messages appeared.
She took the Atlas to a dealership where she was told replacement parts weren't available, so she was provided several loaner vehicles for months which were smaller than the Atlas. This made using child seats difficult.
In March 2022, Volkswagen announced a recall of nearly 223,000 model year 2019-2020 VW Atlas, 2020-2023 VW Atlas Cross Sport and 2021-2023 VW Atlas FL SUVs in the U.S.
VW told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
"Micro-movement of the wire harness (terminal A-Pillar to front door) can result in damage to the wire terminal surface. Damage to the surface can results in fretting corrosion which may cause sporadic interruption in the electrical connection to the components of the front door."
Volkswagen also told NHTSA how the wiring harnesses could trigger the airbag warning lights and cause airbag failures in side-impact crashes. Additionally, VW says the Atlas vehicles could suffer from these symptoms.
"The airbag warning light may illuminate if a malfunction is detected. Other symptoms of a sporadic interruption of the affected electrical connection can be: inadvertent rolling down windows, inadvertent park brake engagement at low speeds (below approx. 3km/h or 1.8mph), warning regarding faulty door sensor."
The automaker says customers were complaining in 2020 about the door wiring harnesses, and VW found problems with fretting corrosion of the wires.
However, while the door wiring harness recall was announced, Volkswagen said it was trying to determine how dealerships were going to repair the vehicles.
Interim owner notification letters informing owners of the safety risk are expected to be mailed May 10, 2022. A second notice will be sent once the remedy becomes available.
Replacement VW Atlas Wiring Harnesses Defective?
According to the VW Atlas class action lawsuit, the vehicles are too dangerous to drive considering the airbags may fail, and any vehicle that suddenly stops without warning is an unsafe vehicle. Additionally, windows that open and close without warning are confusing, dangerous and distracting to drivers and others.
The plaintiff says Volkswagen asserts replacement parts aren't available when Atlas customers complain about the wiring harness problems, forcing customers to wait months for repairs. The class action also alleges some Atlas owners have no choice but to park their vehicles while waiting for replacement components.
However, replacing the Atlas wiring harnesses is allegedly useless anyway because the replacement parts are as defective as the original components.
According to the VW Atlas lawsuit, in November 2021 VW issued Technical Tip 97-21-02TT, entitled “Fault code U019900 or U020000 along with Various Warnings.” The tech tip applies to 2019-2022 Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf, Golf Wagon, Jetta, Tiguan and Taos vehicles.
“Various warning lights may illuminate, the windows may operate erratically, and several communication faults are stored. “A poor connection in/at the door wiring harness may cause fault code U019900 or U020000 to be stored along with many other faults. This may also cause unwanted activation of certain vehicle systems, such as the windows opening/closing by themselves."— Tech Tip 97-21-02TT
Volkswagen dealers were told to replace the wiring harnesses if needed.
In January 2022, the information was updated to include fault codes U019900, U020000, B101729, B101715, B103611 and B103629.
The VW Atlas door wiring harness class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey: Price McMahon, v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
The plaintiff is represented by Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello P.C., Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Goldenberg Schneider, LPA, and the Law Offices of Sean K Collins.