Outcry on safety forces VW recall

VWAlmost 26,000 Volkswagen vehicles will be recalled in Australia after the German car company finally responded to growing safety concerns.

Volkswagen Australia confirmed on Tuesday night it would conduct a recall across its Golf, Jetta, Polo, Passat and Caddy models made between June 2008 and September 2011. The recall will affect 25,928 vehicles within this range.

The move will mirror other recalls in Japan, Singapore and China, where concerns have been raised about a number of issues related to Volkswagen’s direct-shift gearbox (DSG). The recall will target a particular version of DSG, the seven-speed DQ200.

Volkswagen Australia said it would contact the customers involved, and inspect and replace the mechatronics unit in the DSG for no charge to the motorist.

It is not yet clear whether the recall will address all issues related to the DSG, which is the automatic transmission in late-model Volkswagens. One symptom of a faulty DSG was a sudden deceleration while driving. Some motorists have also reported shuddering in the vehicles.

The move follows a wave of anger from Volkswagen customers sparked by the death of Melissa Ryan, a 32-year-old Melbourne woman who died in 2011 on the Monash Freeway while driving a 2008 Golf. Ms Ryan’s family and the truck driver who rear-ended her believe the car dramatically lost speed shortly before she was hit.

Ms Ryan was driving a petrol manual and most of the Volkswagen complaints to Fairfax Media – now more than 300 – involve automatic vehicles with the DSG transmission or a known fault with the diesel injectors.

But reports of the coroner’s inquest into Ms Ryan’s death acted as a trigger for Volkswagen drivers who have experienced sudden deceleration. The customers were furious Volkswagen has not issued recalls in Australia that had been established in other countries.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport, which has not answered Fairfax Media’s queries since Thursday, now faces serious questions about why it did not push Volkswagen to issue a recall in line with other countries.

Some of the DSG issues were addressed in the United States as early as 2009.

The department, which recommends safety recalls to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, also did not act on the diesel injector problem, despite its British counterpart, the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency, pushing Volkswagen to contact customers and repay motorists for thousands of dollars spent repairing faulty injectors.

Volkswagen knew about the injectors as early as the British investigation in 2011, yet only recently released a ”silent” campaign in Australia to fix the problem.

When one of the injectors fail, the whole car shuts down – often while driving – including the power steering. The so-called ”service campaign” fixed the problem only when a customer took their car in for service – and paid for the fix.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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