VW Atlas Fuel Injector Issues: Investigation Closed

Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport investigation focused on fuel injector leaks.

VW Atlas Fuel Injector Issues: Investigation Closed

Posted in Investigations

— VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport fuel injector issues caused a federal investigation that has now been closed after safety regulators found no evidence of fires, crashes, injuries or fatalities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal investigation in March 2021 after complaints about 2018-2020 Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs.

Atlas owners complained about fuel leaking from the fuel injectors in the 3.6-liter engine compartments.

NHTSA noticed warranty data for the VW Atlas fuel systems which involved fuel injectors leaking fuel near hot engine compartment components. Atlas owners said they knew there were problems based on fuel leaks, fuel odors and illuminated check engine warning lights.

Volkswagen responded to the federal probe by explaining how the 3.6L Atlas fuel injectors work.

There are two types of injectors with different designs installed. Cylinders 1, 3 and 5 use "long" injectors and cylinders 2, 4 and 6 use "short" injectors. Unlike the "short" injectors, the "long" injectors require an "extension pipe" necessary to reach cylinders 1, 3 and 5.

Volkswagen found the potential root cause for a leaking injector is typically either a damaged, misaligned or missing supporting ring or a damaged O-ring. VW says these rings help in connecting the injector to the "extension pipe."

However, the O-ring can have difficulty withstanding fuel pressure over time.

According to VW, Atlas warranty data show allegations of leaking fuel injectors were almost always related to "internal" leaks which allow fuel to leak into the cylinders and cause misfiring in the cylinders.

However, this would not cause fuel to enter the engine compartment, and Volkswagen says the condition isn't an unreasonable safety risk.

NHTSA says all the data indicate a low failure rate at about 14,000 miles of in-use miles of the VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. And only two failures occurred outside the warranty coverage period. In addition, the failure rate was less than one failure per thousand vehicles.

The government closed the investigation without taking further actions based on these factors:

  • No fires, crashes, injuries or fatalities
  • A low fuel injector failure rate
  • Failures that do occur are early in the life of the Atlas
  • A low potential safety hazard to consumers.