This morning, Volkswagen issued two recalls affecting hundreds of thousands of Audi vehicles registered in the U.S. The unrelated recalls stem from problems with the vehicles' airbags and cooling pumps.
RECALL #1: 2011-2017 Audi Q5
UNITS AFFECTED: 234,054
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these crossovers have been recalled due to concerns that their airbag inflators may explode when deployed.
Though that might sound like the same problem affecting Takata's fatally flawed airbags, the Q5's airbag inflators were actually made by iSi Automotive Austria. And unlike Takata's devices, these aren't filled with unstable ammonium nitrate. Rather, the problem stems from corrosion caused by leaks in the Q5's sunroof. From NHTSA:
"If the water drainage system of the panoramic sunroof becomes damaged or impaired, e.g. during a repair, water could enter the side head curtain airbag canister. Due to a foam that is touching the airbag inflator, moisture could cause corrosion on the airbag inflator over time. If this happens, the airbag canister could fracture without airbag deployment, propelling fragments into the passenger compartment, striking and causing serious injury to vehicle occupants."
In other words, the cause of the problem differs from the one behind the Takata recalls, but the effect to passengers is fairly similar.
Audi will mail recall notices to owners of these vehicles next month. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to schedule service appointments with their local Audi dealerships. Dealers will remove the foam surrounding the inflator, then inspect the device for damage. Depending on the result of that inspection, dealers will either coat the inflator or replace it.
If you believe that you own one of these vehicles and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834 and ask about recall #69P1. Alternately, you can call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #17V001000.
RECALL #2: 2013-2017 Audi A5, A5 Cabriolet, Q5; 2013-2016 Audi Allroad, A4; 2012-2015 Audi A6
UNITS AFFECTED: 342,867
NHTSA reports that these vehicles are equipped with electric coolant pumps that can become clogged with debris from the cooling system over time. Should that happen, the coolant pump can overheat and potentially catch fire.
Audi plans to mail recall notices to the owners of affected vehicles by February 20. At that time, owners will be able to take their vehicles to Audi dealerships for service, where the software on the cars will be updated. The new software will monitor the coolant pump and cut power to the component if it should become blocked with debris, eliminating the risk of fire.
For additional information, owners can contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834 and inquire about recall #19M1. If you prefer, you can also call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #17V002000.