The unknown cause of an error with the passenger detection system prompted Audi to recall all A3 models built for the 2015-2020 model years, according to an announcement from parent company Volkswagen Group of America earlier this month.
The passenger occupant detection system (PODS) can malfunction and switch off the passenger side airbag even with a passenger in the front seat. A warning light illuminates in the instrument panel along with an error message and sound alert. In the event of a crash, the passenger airbag won't deploy, increasing the risk of injury. The warnings can vanish as randomly as they appear, and when the error disappears the passenger side airbag will work as designed.
Audi says the A3 is safe to drive, with a caveat. If the warnings appear, Audi recommends to not use the passenger seat. Despite a recall in September 2019 to fix the issue, Audi has not been able to detect what's triggering the error codes. The root cause remains unknown, so Audi is recalling all A3 models from model years 2015-2020 "out of an abundance of caution," the automaker said in paperwork filed with the NHTSA.
The expanded recall covers 153,152 models:
2015-2020 Audi A3
2015-2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet
2016-2018 Audi A3 E-Tron
2017-2020 Audi RS3
Audi skipped the 2021 A3 model year, and is expected to debut a redesigned 2022 model. The redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, 2022 Infiniti QX60, and 2022 Acura MDX skipped the 2021 model year as well.
The Audi A3 recall expands on campaign 19V-474, and any A3 models fixed under that recall must return for another fix. Owners can expect notification as early as May 21 or visit Audi's recall site or call 1-800-253-2834. Audi's number for this recall is 69BY.