Sudden braking in 2 VW SUV models draws regulatory scrutiny


DETROIT (AP) — First arrived the beeping alarms and the dashboard lights warning that a little something had gone haywire. Then the driver’s aspect windows abruptly and mysteriously rolled down. Kendall Heiman’s Volkswagen SUV then pulled the scariest stunt of all: It abruptly braked for no motive.

Heiman, a scientific social worker in Lawrence, Kansas, was driving her 15-calendar year-previous son to a course on Jan. 5 when her 2021 Atlas Cross Sport went bonkers. The malfunctions turned a ordinarily schedule two-mile spherical journey into a white-knuckle ordeal.

“It literally feels like the vehicle is possessed,” Heiman reported. “I’m not feeling like I’m driving my motor vehicle. My motor vehicle is driving me.”

Heiman’s encounter, it turns out, was not unique. Considering the fact that late 2020, 47 VW proprietors have complained to the Countrywide Freeway Website traffic Basic safety Administration about the exact glitches in their 2020 and 2021 VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. Some motorists claimed that they narrowly escaped collisions, even though a overview of the problems uncovered no stories of crashes.

In a assertion, NHTSA explained it has been accumulating info from VW about the difficulty and is checking issues and other facts sources. The agency has not opened a formal investigation. And it would have to obtain and evaluate more knowledge right before it could seek out a remember.

Issues about surprising braking involving the VW SUVs began in September of 2020, 8 months right before Heiman purchased her SUV, NHTSA’s records clearly show.

In a statement, Volkswagen explained it is doing the job on the dilemma but stopped small of stating it’s recalling the affected motor vehicles.

“VW is knowledgeable of concerns involving faulty door wiring harnesses in particular Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport motor vehicles,” the enterprise reported. “We are doing the job intently with NHTSA relating to the future measures in direction of determining the affected autos.”

Immediately after her SUV’s unanticipated braking on Jan. 5, Heiman originally stored driving, figuring that the problem was a “bizarre fluke.” The SUV and a VW app flashed malfunction alerts, she stated, but neither shown a information to cease driving the car.

Her Cross Activity braked unexpectedly a several much more times that working day, but she was in a position to override it with the fuel pedal. Heading into a roundabout on the way home with her son the exact working day, the SUV abruptly braked and came to a entire stop, Heiman reported, and one more SUV narrowly skipped rear-ending her. She shut the motor off and restarted it to override what she thinks was a malfunction of automated crisis braking.

Jan. 5 was the to start with time she experienced encountered the difficulty with the Cross Sport, which she acquired new in May well 2021.

As soon as dwelling, Heiman known as her dealer’s assistance office and received an appointment the following day. On the way there, she stated, the SUV braked mysteriously once more though exiting a two-lane highway.

“They did not tell me it wasn’t secure to push to the supplier,” she claimed.

In the store, a mechanic detected a dilemma with a wiring harness in the driver’s door, but she was instructed there weren’t any sections to correct it. (Electrical shorts in wiring harnesses can induce several issues in automobiles, like brake activation.)

Soon after speaking about the protection hazards with her, the dealership organized for a rental car or truck, Heiman reported, and sooner or later the use of a new all-wheel-generate VW SUV.

The exact same working day, Heiman described the challenge to VW in an on the web chat and was referred to a regional supervisor who was of minimal enable, she reported.

VW declined to comment on Heiman’s assertions.

On Jan. 12, Heiman complained to NHTSA but reported she never ever listened to again from the company. (NHTSA says it opinions all problems but in most scenarios does not answer straight to them.)

For extra than two months, Heiman stated, her burnt orange Cross Sport, which experienced 12,600 miles on it and had value $45,000, sat at the dealership waiting for the section. But late past week, just after a reporter contacted the dealership, Heiman acquired a contact telling her that the portion had come in and that her motor vehicle experienced been repaired.

Others who submitted complaints with NHTSA wrote that dealers advised them they had been out of loaner automobiles and that they really should retain driving their cars.

“They also could not warranty that my parking brake would not interact all over again even though the automobile was in travel, but did not want to offer you me a rental automobile since Volkswagen does not think about it a ‘safety situation,’ ” just one unidentified proprietor from Sidney Heart, New York, wrote in a grievance.

Heiman’s working experience with Volkswagen produced her worry about other individuals who have encountered the exact same problems with the identical VW types. She wonders why the automaker and govt basic safety regulators haven’t recalled them.

If there is a recall, it’s not distinct how many autos would have to be repaired. In 2020 and 2021, VW offered 203,000 of each versions mixed.

Many entrepreneurs wrote in complaints that the automatic unexpected emergency braking system experienced abruptly stopped their Atlas and Atlas Cross Activity SUVs for no motive. Protection advocates say the new technology, which uses cameras and pcs to detect obstacles and quit or gradual down if a driver doesn’t respond, demonstrates fantastic assure to reduce crashes.

But the technological innovation is also creating worries for automakers. NHTSA a short while ago opened investigations into unexpected braking by the devices in some Honda and Tesla motor vehicles. It has been investigating Nissan Rogue modest SUVs because 2019.

In paperwork about the Honda investigation, NHTSA explained that 6 people complained of crashes with small injuries.

“Inadvertent or unexpected braking activation whilst driving can trigger unexpected speed reductions that can lead to improved vulnerability to rear close impact collisions,” the agency wrote.

Investigations typically guide to recalls. But they can just take months or even decades to total.

NHTSA is working on building regulations that will need automatic crisis braking system on all new light automobiles and significant
trucks. In addition, automakers have agreed to make the method regular on most of their versions by September of this 12 months.

“We all want to have know-how,” stated Michael Brooks, main counsel for the nonprofit Centre for Vehicle Protection. “But if it doesn’t function and it truly results in other security issues like phantom braking, then it suggests they have to have a little bit of a overall performance typical for all of these AEB devices.”


AP Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

Next Post

Best Car Rental Companies (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Leasing a vehicle can be an encounter akin to a root canal for a lot of individuals, specifically with the value of car rentals currently on the rise. You can devote several hours investigating the many businesses and their offerings, only to be frequently baffled about which delivers the greatest […]

Subscribe US Now