VW Recalls Atlas for a Blocked Drain Tube That May Cause Airbag Deployment


Introduced in 2017 for the 2018 model year, the family-sized Atlas crossover is the largest Volkswagen based on the MQB modular vehicle architecture. It’s not without its faults, though, because Volkswagen’s build quality has been steadily going down in the past decade or so.

On July 27th, the Chattanooga assembly plant received information about a case in which the airbags of an Atlas deployed without an accident to the vehicle. Almost four months later, Volkswagen finally decided to recall certain 2021 vehicles along with 2020 and 2021 Atlas Cross Sport vehicles for a water drain tube of the air conditioning system that may be blocked.

If the water drain tube blocks up, water can accumulate and leak inside the vehicle. Some of that water may reach the airbag control module, leading to malfunctions that include unwarranted airbag deployment. Plain enough, that increases the risk of injury. Care to guess who’s to blame for this fiasco? The document attached at the end of this article reads: “Incorrect manufactured parts at a sub-supplier for the air conditioning system.” In other words, Volkswagen cheaped out on parts. The supplier is Air International Thermal Systems, which is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Customers will be notified of this problem on January 14th. Service technicians will first inspect the water drain tube, then replace the airbag control unit if a blockage is found. Because the affected vehicles are within the warranty period, Volkswagen America will not offer reimbursement.

A grand total of 54,429 vehicles are called back, split between 18,980 units of the Atlas Cross Sport and 35,449 units of the Atlas. The recalled vehicles were made at Chattanooga between May 20th, 2020, and March 4th, 2021.

Believe it or not, this is the 10th recall of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. The mid-size crossover was previously called back for improper welding, incorrectly aimed headlights, over cured tires, steering knuckle failure, rearview camera issues, incorrectly machined wheel lug bolt holes, damaged relays, as well as improperly tightened wheel bearing bolts.