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Unraveling Volkswagen: A History of Recalls and Safety Issues

Volkswagens History of Recalls

Volkswagen, the German automotive giant, has been in the news for recall-related safety issues in recent times. From car emissions scandals to manufacturing flaws, there have been numerous issues that Volkswagen has been grappling with.

In this article, we will discuss Volkswagen’s history of recalls, the common reasons for the recalls, and the measures that Volkswagen is taking to address them.Driving a car is meant to make our lives easier and more convenient. However, as much as we love our cars, they’re also a source of danger.

Thousands of people are killed or injured in car accidents every year, despite strict safety regulations. Automakers have a responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are safe and reliable, and Volkswagen is no exception.

Unfortunately, Volkswagen’s history is mired in a series of recalls. Let’s explore some of the reasons why Volkswagen has had to recall its cars.

Common Reasons for Volkswagen Recalls

1. Emissions Scandal

Perhaps the most significant recall in Volkswagen’s recent history is the “Dieselgate” emissions scandal.

In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Volkswagen had installed software in over 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that could detect when the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test. During the test, the software would reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, making the diesel car appear to be cleaner.

However, once the test was over, the vehicle would switch back to its standard operating mode, emitting much higher levels of NOx. This was a deliberate attempt to cheat on emissions standards, and it resulted in hefty fines for Volkswagen around the world. 2.

Fuel Pump Failure

Volkswagen has had to recall many of its cars due to fuel pump failures. In many cases, the fuel pump controller would fail, leading to the loss of power while driving, and eventually stalling of the car.

This issue was prevalent in the 2015-2019 Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, and Jetta models, among others. In some cases, the fuel pump issue caused other problems, such as an overheating engine.

3. Airbag Defects

Like many other automakers, Volkswagen has had to recall models due to airbag defects.

In 2016, Volkswagen issued a recall of 850,000 cars due to issues with the Takata airbags. These airbags would deploy with too much force, causing metal shards to fly into the cabin of the car, potentially injuring the passengers.

This issue was widespread and was not limited to Volkswagen vehicles alone. 4.

Brake Issues

Volkswagen has also had to recall many of its cars due to brake-related issues. In 2019, Volkswagen recalled over 100,000 cars due to brake issues, including the Jetta, Beetle, and Golf models.

In this case, the master cylinder could fail, leading to a reduction in the braking capacity of the car. A faulty master cylinder could lead to a loss of brake fluid and pose a serious safety risk to the driver and passengers.

5. Transmission Defects

Volkswagen has had to recall many of its cars due to transmission problems.

For example, in 2019, Volkswagen had to recall nearly 60,000 vehicles due to defects in the direct-shift gearbox (DSG). These defects could cause the gearbox to shift into neutral while driving, leading to a loss of power and control over the vehicle.

This issue was widespread in the 2012-2017 Volkswagen Passat models.

Measures to Address the Recalls

Volkswagen has been working hard to address its recall issues. Firstly, Volkswagen has agreed to either buy back or fix cars that were affected by the Dieselgate scandal.

This will cost the company billions of dollars, but it’s a necessary step to earn back the trust of its customers. Secondly, Volkswagen has launched a continuous quality improvement program across all of its plants globally.

The program aims to improve the quality of Volkswagen’s cars and address the manufacturing issues that lead to recalls. Finally, Volkswagen has been working on developing new electric vehicles that are emissions-free and have fewer safety issues.

As electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, they tend to have fewer recalls, making them an attractive option for Volkswagen’s future.


Volkswagen’s history of recalls is an unfortunate reality. As customers, we expect our cars to be safe, reliable, and free from manufacturing defects.

However, carmakers like Volkswagen have a responsibility to ensure that their vehicles meet the highest safety standards. Volkswagen has been dealing with these recall issues head-on and is taking measures to mitigate them in the future.

By learning from the past, Volkswagen hopes to build a better and safer future for its customers. 3.

Cost of Volkswagen Recalls

Recalls are not only a safety issue for carmakers like Volkswagen, but they also come with a considerable financial cost. The cost of recalls can be broken down into several parts, including the cost of notifying customers, fixing the affected vehicles, and compensating customers for any damages or losses incurred.

In 2015, Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” emissions scandal led to the recall of over 11 million cars globally. The cost of this recall was substantial and included a $14.7 billion settlement with US regulators, fines for European regulators, and a loss in sales due to damage to the reputation of the brand.

Additionally, Volkswagen had to set aside $6.5 billion to cover the cost of fixing the affected cars. However, the cost of recalls is not just an issue for Volkswagen.

In 2019, General Motors had to pay $900 million as part of a settlement with the US government over its defective ignition switches, and Toyota had to pay $1.2 billion to settle a case related to unintended acceleration. These are just a few examples of the financial burden that recalls can place on automakers.

4. Impact of Volkswagen Recalls on Brand Reputation

The impact of recalls on an automaker’s brand reputation cannot be underestimated.

Brands like Volkswagen have spent billions of dollars over the years to build their reputation and establish customer trust. However, a recall can undo all of that hard work in a matter of days.

The “Dieselgate” scandal was a massive blow to Volkswagen’s brand reputation. The company was seen as an industry leader in fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability before the scandal broke.

However, after the scandal, Volkswagen’s reputation took a hit, and it lost the trust of many of its customers. This was due not just to the fact that they had cheated on emissions standards, but also because they then tried to cover it up.

According to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, Volkswagen’s reputation dropped more than any other automaker between August 2015 and September 2015, with consumer perception of Volkswagen dropping by over 50%. In addition to this, the company’s sales took a hit, with many consumers deciding to switch to other brands.

It was a tough journey of regaining customer trust, for Volkswagen. The impact of recalls on brand reputation is not limited to the automotive industry.

In 2019, UK airline British Airways was fined 183 million over a data breach that compromised the personal information of over 500,000 customers. The airline’s reputation took a hit, and many customers vowed never to fly with British Airways again.


Recalls have a significant impact on both the financial health and brand reputation of an automaker like Volkswagen. The financial cost of recalls can be significant, and the impact on brand reputation can be long-lasting.

However, as we have seen, Volkswagen has been taking steps to address these issues, from compensation for affected customers to launching continuous quality improvement programs. These are positive steps towards rebuilding trust with its customers and establishing a more robust safety culture within the company.

5. Types of Volkswagen Vehicles Recalled

Over the years, Volkswagen has issued recalls for numerous models of its vehicles due to a variety of safety and manufacturing issues.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of Volkswagen vehicles that have been recalled. 1.


The Golf is one of Volkswagen’s most popular models, and it has been recalled several times over the years. One of the most significant recalls for the Golf was in 2017 when Volkswagen recalled over 135,000 Golf and Jetta models due to fuel pump failure.

In some cases, the fuel pump controller would fail, leading to a loss of power while driving, and eventually stalling of the car. 2.


The Passat is another popular Volkswagen model that has been subject to several recalls. For example, in 2019, Volkswagen had to recall nearly 60,000 Passat vehicles due to defects in the direct-shift gearbox (DSG).

These defects could cause the gearbox to shift into neutral while driving, leading to a loss of power and control over the vehicle. 3.


The Jetta is one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models and has been recalled many times over the years. In 2019, Volkswagen recalled over 100,000 Jetta, Beetle, and Golf models due to brake issues.

In this case, the master cylinder could fail, leading to a reduction in the braking capacity of the car. 4.


Although the production of the Beetle has stopped, it remains one of Volkswagen’s most beloved models. The Beetle has been subject to several recalls over the years, including one in 2019 due to brake issues.

The master cylinder could fail, leading to a reduction in the braking capacity of the vehicle. 5.


The Touareg is Volkswagen’s luxury SUV model and has also faced several recalls over the years. In 2011, Volkswagen had to recall over 20,000 Touareg models due to fuel system issues that could lead to fuel leakage.

In 2016, Volkswagen had to recall nearly 22,000 Touareg vehicles due to a potential electrical short circuit that could lead to a fire. 6.


The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s compact SUV model and has been subject to several recalls over the years. In 2017, Volkswagen had to recall over 43,000 Tiguan models due to issues with the fuel system.

In some cases, the fuel pump could fail, leading to a loss of power while driving. 6.

Steps Volkswagen Takes for Recall Repair

When Volkswagen identifies a safety or manufacturing issue with one of its vehicles, it takes immediate steps to inform its dealers and affected customers. The company sends recall notices to customers by mail or email, calling on them to bring their vehicle to a Volkswagen dealer for repair.

Upon arrival at the dealer, the customer’s vehicle is assessed and any necessary repairs are carried out free of charge. The length of time it takes to repair the vehicle depends on the nature of the recall and the availability of replacement parts.

Some recalls may take just a few hours, while others could take several days or weeks. In some cases, Volkswagen may offer a buyback program for affected vehicles.

For example, in the case of the “Dieselgate” scandal, Volkswagen offered to either buy back affected cars or fix them to make them compliant with emissions regulations. To prevent future recalls, Volkswagen has implemented measures to improve quality control and safety standards in its manufacturing process.

This includes conducting regular inspections and root cause analysis of any issues that arise during the manufacturing process. Additionally, Volkswagen has implemented a continuous improvement program across all its plants globally.


Recalls are an unfortunate reality in the automotive industry, but it’s encouraging to see that Volkswagen is taking its responsibility seriously by informing customers and dealers promptly and carrying out repair work free of charge. While Volkswagen has faced significant financial and reputational costs due to recalls, the company has made a commitment to improving quality control and safety standards in its manufacturing process, which is a necessary step in the right direction.

7. How Volkswagen Notifies Customers of Recalls

When a safety or manufacturing issue is identified with a Volkswagen vehicle, the company takes swift action to notify affected customers.

Volkswagen has a comprehensive process in place to ensure that customers are informed about recalls and provided with the necessary instructions for getting their vehicles repaired. 1.

Recall Notices

Volkswagen sends out recall notices to affected customers to inform them of the recall and the steps they need to take. These notices are usually sent via mail or email, depending on the contact information provided by the customer at the time of vehicle purchase or registration.

The notice contains important information such as the reason for the recall, the potential risks or dangers associated with the issue, and instructions on how to proceed. 2.

Collaboration with Dealerships

Volkswagen works closely with its network of dealerships to facilitate the recall process. Upon receiving information regarding a recall, Volkswagen contacts its authorized dealerships and provides them with all the necessary details and guidance to handle the recall repairs.

The dealerships play a crucial role in communicating with customers and scheduling appointments for repairs to be carried out. 3.

Dedicated Recall Websites

Volkswagen maintains dedicated recall websites that customers can visit to check if their vehicle is subject to any recalls. These websites allow customers to enter their vehicle identification number (VIN) to determine if their specific vehicle is affected by any recall campaigns.

This provides customers with a convenient way to stay informed about any potential safety issues and the necessary steps to resolve them. 4.

Media Communication

To ensure that the recall information reaches as many customers as possible, Volkswagen widely communicates the details of the recall through various media channels. The company issues press releases, publishes information on its website, and may engage in interviews with the media.

This helps to raise awareness among both affected customers and the general public, ensuring that the recall information reaches a broad audience. 5.

Social Media and Digital Channels

In addition to traditional media communication, Volkswagen also utilizes social media and other digital platforms to notify customers of recalls. The company leverages its official social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to share information about the recall and provide updates.

This allows Volkswagen to reach a large audience quickly and efficiently, especially the younger demographic that is more active on these platforms. 8.

Volkswagen’s Response to Recalls

Volkswagen’s response to recalls is vital in maintaining customer trust and ensuring the safety of its vehicles. When a recall is issued, Volkswagen takes immediate action to address the issue and minimize the impact on customers.

1. Free Repairs

First and foremost, Volkswagen ensures that the necessary repairs for the recall are carried out free of charge for affected customers.

This includes both the cost of parts and labor. By covering the expenses associated with repairs, Volkswagen aims to alleviate any financial burden on its customers and prioritize their safety.

2. Extended Warranty

In some cases, Volkswagen may offer an extended warranty to provide additional coverage for customers affected by the recall.

This extra layer of protection gives customers peace of mind, knowing that their vehicle will be covered for an extended period beyond the initial warranty period. 3.

Buyback Program

In certain situations, such as the “Dieselgate” scandal, Volkswagen has offered a buyback program for affected vehicles. This allows customers to sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen at a fair market value or receive compensation.

The buyback program provides an alternative solution for customers who may prefer to part ways with their affected vehicle. 4.

Continuous Improvement

Volkswagen is committed to continuously improving its manufacturing processes and safety standards to prevent future recalls. The company invests in research and development to identify and address potential issues before they become major recalls.

By conducting regular inspections and implementing quality control measures, Volkswagen strives to deliver vehicles that meet the highest safety standards.


Volkswagen understands the importance of promptly notifying customers about recalls and taking appropriate actions to resolve the issues. From sending out recall notices to collaborating with dealerships, Volkswagen ensures that customers are informed of the recalls and provided with the necessary instructions.

The company’s response to recalls includes free repairs, extended warranties, and even buyback programs in certain cases. By prioritizing customer safety and actively addressing recall issues, Volkswagen aims to maintain trust and ensure the satisfaction of its customers.

9. Consumer Responses to Volkswagen Recalls

When a recall is issued, consumers play a crucial role in the success of the recall process.

Their responses can vary, ranging from concern and frustration to understanding and cooperation. Let’s explore the different ways in which consumers typically respond to Volkswagen recalls.

1. Concern and Frustration

One common response to recalls is concern and frustration.

Consumers may feel worried about the safety of their vehicles and frustrated that they now have to go through the inconvenience of getting their vehicles repaired. This is especially true when the recall involves significant issues such as the “Dieselgate” scandal, which not only affected emissions but also damaged Volkswagen’s reputation.

Customers may have concerns about the impact of the issue on their vehicle’s performance, reliability, and resale value. 2.

Proactive Action

Some consumers respond to recalls by taking immediate action. They understand the importance of addressing the safety issue and promptly schedule a repair appointment at an authorized Volkswagen dealership.

These individuals prioritize the safety of themselves and their passengers, recognizing that the recall is an opportunity to have the issue resolved by professionals. 3.

Delayed Response

On the other hand, some consumers may have a delayed response to recalls. They may have reasons such as lack of awareness, a busy schedule, or indifference towards the issue.

It is essential for Volkswagen and regulatory bodies to emphasize the urgency of recalls to ensure that all affected vehicles are repaired promptly. 4.

Loss of Trust and Brand Switching

Recalls can lead to a loss of trust in a brand. Some consumers may decide to switch to another brand altogether due to the negative experience or lack of confidence in Volkswagen’s ability to produce safe and reliable vehicles.

They may feel let down by the company’s failure to address the issue prior to the recall, or by the fact that they had inadvertently purchased a vehicle with a safety or manufacturing defect. 5.

Appreciation of Transparency and Recall Processes

Despite the concerns and frustrations, there are consumers who appreciate the transparency and recall processes put in place by Volkswagen. They understand that recalls are necessary to ensure safety and appreciate the company’s efforts to communicate with affected customers and provide free repairs.

This group of consumers sees recalls as an opportunity for improvement and view Volkswagen’s commitment to addressing the issues positively. 10.

Volkswagen’s Compliance with Regulatory Agencies during Recalls

Regulatory agencies play a crucial role in overseeing recalls and ensuring that automakers like Volkswagen comply with safety regulations. When it comes to recalls, Volkswagen strives to work closely with these agencies to meet their requirements and ensure the safety of its customers.

1. Collaboration and Reporting

Volkswagen collaborates with regulatory agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States, to ensure compliance with recall regulations.

The company provides detailed reports regarding the affected vehicles, the nature of the issue, and the proposed solutions. These reports are submitted within specific timelines defined by the regulatory agencies.

2. Transparency and Timeliness

Volkswagen places a strong emphasis on transparency and timeliness during the recall process.

The company works closely with regulatory agencies to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the progress of the recall. This includes sharing details on the number of affected vehicles, the repair progress, and any changes or updates related to the recall campaign.

3. Monitoring and Audits

Regulatory agencies may also conduct monitoring and audits to ensure that Volkswagen is complying with the recall requirements.

This can include inspections of facilities, review of documents related to the recall, and verification of repair actions. Volkswagen understands the importance of cooperating with regulators during this process and provides the necessary access and information to facilitate the monitoring and audit activities.

4. Penalties and Fines

In cases where a recall issue arises due to non-compliance or negligence, regulatory agencies have the authority to impose penalties and fines on automakers.

These penalties serve as deterrents and emphasize the seriousness of compliance with safety regulations. Volkswagen has faced significant fines and penalties as a result of the “Dieselgate” scandal, which demonstrated the consequences of non-compliance with emissions standards.


Consumer responses to recalls can vary from concern and frustration to proactive action or even brand switching. It is essential for Volkswagen to address customer concerns and prioritize transparency throughout the recall process.

Furthermore, compliance with regulatory agencies is critical in ensuring the safety of customers and maintaining trust. By collaborating with regulatory agencies, providing accurate reporting, and adhering to regulations, Volkswagen can work towards resolving the issues identified in recalls and continuously improve their safety standards.

11. Volkswagen’s Recall Management Process

When it comes to managing recalls, Volkswagen has a well-established process in place to ensure effective and efficient resolution of safety and manufacturing issues.

This process involves several key steps that Volkswagen follows to handle recalls promptly and ensure the safety of its customers. 1.

Issue Identification

The recall management process starts with the identification of potential safety or manufacturing issues. This can be done through various channels, such as internal quality control measures, customer complaints, or reports from regulatory agencies.

Once an issue is identified, Volkswagen initiates an investigation to determine the root cause and assess the scope of the problem. 2.

Investigation and Analysis

Volkswagen conducts a thorough investigation and analysis of the identified issue to understand its cause, potential risks, and implications. This involves examining the affected components, examining production records, and conducting extensive testing to determine the exact circumstances under which the issue may arise.

The findings from this investigation are then used to devise an appropriate solution. 3.

Regulatory Compliance

During the recall management process, Volkswagen works closely with regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with safety and recall regulations. The company cooperates with these agencies by providing them with detailed information about the issue, proposed solutions, and progress updates.

Volkswagen aims to align its processes with the requirements set by regulatory agencies to maintain a high standard of safety and compliance. 4.

Communication and Notification

Once a decision is made to recall vehicles, Volkswagen swiftly communicates with affected customers to inform them of the recall and the steps they need to take. This communication may be in the form of mailed letters, emails, or even phone calls, depending on the contact information available.

Clear and concise instructions are provided to help customers understand the issue, the potential risks, and the repair process. 5.

Repair and Free Remediation

Volkswagen ensures that affected vehicles are repaired free of charge by authorized dealerships. The company works closely with its network of dealers to ensure they have the necessary resources, information, and parts to carry out the repairs promptly.

Volkswagen also provides training and support to technicians to ensure that the repairs are done correctly and efficiently. 6.

Continuous Improvement

As part of its recall management process, Volkswagen puts a strong emphasis on continuous improvement. The company evaluates the recall process after each campaign to identify any shortcomings or areas for improvement.

Lessons learned from past recalls are used to refine and enhance their overall recall management strategy, aiming for more effective and efficient processes in the future. 12.

Volkswagen’s Safety Testing Protocol

In order to ensure the safety and reliability of its vehicles, Volkswagen follows a robust safety testing protocol. This protocol involves a series of rigorous tests and evaluations to verify that vehicles meet the highest safety standards before they are released to the market.

1. Crash Testing

Crash testing is a fundamental element of Volkswagen’s safety testing protocol.

Vehicles undergo comprehensive crash tests that simulate various types of impacts, including frontal, side, and rear collisions. These tests evaluate the vehicle’s structural integrity, airbag deployment, seatbelt effectiveness, and overall occupant protection.

2. Active Safety Systems Testing

Volkswagen also conducts extensive testing of its active safety systems, such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

These tests assess the functionality and effectiveness of these systems under various driving conditions, ensuring that they operate as intended and enhance vehicle safety. 3.

Durability and Reliability Testing

Volkswagen subjects its vehicles to rigorous durability and reliability testing to ensure they can withstand the demands of real-world driving conditions. These tests assess the vehicle’s performance, mechanical components, and systems over an extended period of time or under extreme conditions.

This allows Volkswagen to identify any potential weaknesses or issues that may arise during normal usage. 4.

Environmental and Emissions Testing

Environmental and emissions testing is a crucial aspect of Volkswagen’s safety testing protocol. The company ensures that its vehicles comply with all relevant environmental regulations, including emissions standards.

This involves conducting emissions tests in accordance with regulatory requirements to verify that vehicles meet the specified emission levels. 5.

Quality Control

Throughout the production process, Volkswagen maintains a strict quality control program to monitor and evaluate the quality of its vehicles. This includes inspections, tests, and audits at various stages of manufacturing to detect any potential defects or deviations from standards.

Any issues identified during quality control are addressed promptly to maintain the highest level of quality and safety. 6.

Compliance with Safety Regulations

Volkswagen adheres to stringent safety regulations set by regulatory agencies around the world. The company continuously monitors changes in safety standards and ensures that its vehicles are compliant with the latest regulations.

Volkswagen’s safety testing protocol goes hand in hand with these regulations to ensure that its vehicles not only meet the minimum requirements but also exceed them when possible.


Volkswagen’s recall management process and safety testing protocol are integral to the company’s commitment to safety and customer satisfaction. By promptly identifying and addressing safety and manufacturing issues through the recall management process, Volkswagen demonstrates its responsibility towards customer safety.

Through its robust safety testing protocol, the company ensures that its vehicles meet and exceed the highest safety standards set by regulatory agencies. These processes reflect Volkswagen’s dedication to continuous improvement and innovation, as it strives to deliver vehicles that provide optimal safety and reliability to its customers.

13. Influential Recalls that Shaped Volkswagen’s Safety Practices

Recalls play a significant role in shaping an automaker’s safety practices, and Volkswagen is no exception.

Over the years, there have been influential recalls within Volkswagen’s history that have led to important changes in their approach to safety. Let’s take a closer look at some of these influential recalls and their impact on Volkswagen’s safety practices.

1. “Dieselgate” Emissions Scandal

The “Dieselgate” emissions scandal, which erupted in 2015, was undoubtedly one of the most influential recalls in Volkswagen’s history.

The scandal involved the use of illegal software to manipulate emissions testing results in millions of Volkswagen diesel vehicles worldwide. This recall was a major wake-up call for Volkswagen and the entire automotive industry, highlighting the importance of emissions compliance and the need for transparent practices.

As a result of the scandal, Volkswagen faced massive fines, legal actions, and a significant loss of consumer trust. To address this issue, Volkswagen implemented comprehensive changes to its safety practices, including stricter internal controls, improved compliance procedures, and a renewed focus on transparency and ethics.

This recall forced Volkswagen to prioritize safety and ethical practices in a way that has greatly influenced its safety practices going forward. 2.

Takata Airbag Recalls

Like many other automakers, Volkswagen has also been affected by the large-scale recalls involving defective Takata airbags. The recall occurred due to the risk of these airbags exploding upon deployment, causing serio

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