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VW Passat is Under Investigation Again for Engine Compartment Fires

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On: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 10:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


 VW Passat is Under Investigation Again for Engine Compartment Fires

In recent automotive news, Volkswagen is under investigation again (for the second time in the past 3 years) as a result of multiple reports of engines that actually caught fire secondary to ignition-coil failures in 2002 through 2003 Passat models. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a new preliminary investigation has been opened by federal regulators in order to find any evidence that a formal investigation is indicated.

There are 16 reports by Passat owners stating that the vehicle hesitated or lost power when the ignition coil (which had been replaced more than once) failed, and the NHTSA reports that there may be as many as 199,000 total vehicles involved.  

One complaint stated: “While driving approximately 45 MPH, the vehicle began shaking violently and shut down in the middle of an intersection. The vehicle then skidded into an intersection and almost struck a child,” referring to a 2002 VW Passat.

“We take all of these investigations seriously, and we're working with NHTSA on this matter,” company spokesman Kerry Christopher said.

In the past an investigation of 2007-2008 Passat was conducted by federal regulators after owners lodged complaints about 78 crashes that may have been linked to the engine coil failures, over 400,000 Passats were recalled, and the investigation was closed after finding a damaged underbody heat shield that “may contact the exhaust system which can result in a vehicle fire.”  Other possible issues that were identified were leaky fuel lines or fuel tank ventilation valves that had the potential to cause fires.

Underbody heat shields were added by dealers and they were also instructed to replace in faulty fuel tanks or valve components.

It is uncertain as to whether there will be an investigation to discover whether or not the past problems with VW ignition coils are related to the most recent complaints, although Volkswagen has had complaint related to ignition coil problems as far back as 2003.

In the first two quarters of 2010 domestic sales of the Passat Sedan have gone up 26% compared to last year. Future plans are for VW to replace the Passat next year; a new sedan model will be built at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee manufacturing plant, but the name of the new sedan has not yet been announced.


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