Volkswagen is recalling more than 84,000 Passat diesels from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 model years, but surprisingly, the recall has nothing to do with the cars' emissions systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the Passat's heat shields might not do the one job they're designed to do: protect the underbody from heat.
NHTSA's defect report shows that the Passat's heat shield may not be long enough to guard the car's right half-shaft grease boot. As a result, the boot may leak grease, and if that grease comes in contact with a hot surface--like, say, the exhaust system or the diesel particulate filter--it could catch fire. Not good.
The recall affects 2012-2014 Volkswagen Passat diesels that came equipped with direct-shift transmissions. NHTSA says that 84,262 such vehicles are registered in the U.S.
If you own one of those cars, you should expect to receive a recall notice by mail in July 2017. At that time, you'll be able to take your Passat to a Volkswagen dealer, who will replace the driveshaft heat shield at no charge.
Should you have additional questions, you're encouraged to call Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298 and ask about recall #23W5. If you like, you can also call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #17V309000.