By on August 23, 2019

On Friday, Volkswagen Group announced the recall of 679,000 U.S. vehicles that could roll away due to an electrical problem. Apparently, silicate buildup can accumulate on the shift lever micro switch and trick the car into thinking the vehicle is in park.

As a result, some customers might be able to remove their key before the car has actually been made stationary — creating problems among the highly inattentive.

Documentation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the recall covering a bevy of VW models manufactured after 2011. Impacted autos include the 2012-2019 Beetle and Beetle Convertible, 2011-2018 Jetta, 2015-2016 and 2018-2019 Volkswagen Golf, 2015-2019 Golf GTI, and 2017-2019 Golf SportWagen. All affected vehicles will have automatic transmissions.

While we doubt the defect will catch out anyone with a little experience in vintage trash, some drivers may not expect a key to even be capable of coming out of the ignition before a car has been fully immobilized. Fortunately, VW claims it isn’t aware of any injuries relating to the issue and noted that some models could produce warning sounds or error messages that help tip the driver off that something’s not right.

The fix involves installing an additional switch and circuit board, something VW dealerships will do free of charge once the recall gets rolling. Customers that previously had to repair their vehicle due to the flaw will also be eligible for reimbursement, even if the job was done while the car was out of warranty.

Expect customer notifications to begin after October 11th. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or go to and put in their VIN. Use NHTSA recall campaign code 19V615000.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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23 Comments on “VW Recalls 679,000 U.S. Vehicles Over Rollaway Risk...”

  • avatar

    That s a lot of cars.
    About the yearly production of THREE assembly plants.

    As much as I like VW products, I cannot trust the quality and brutal dealer experience. Maybe that is why – great products but 1/2 the US sales of Subaru.

  • avatar

    Is this a new recall or an expanded one?

    My 2015 Golf was recalled for this exact same issue around this time last year (and fixed earlier this year, because naturally recall notice came months before fix was available at dealers).

    • 0 avatar

      Here is the one I was talking about from last year:

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “creating problems among the highly inattentive”

    That’s a bit insulting; such a failure could catch anyone by surprise. Drivers expect “Park” to mean “Park”, not “maybe Park”. With such a routine expectation, in a loud or busy environment I can easily imagine a driver being caught unawares.

    But many of the B&B just throw away recall notices anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter if their car rolls off. Never mind.

  • avatar

    Put the car in Park, set the handbrake (or, for those old enough to remember, step on the emergency brake). Isn’t that the routine taught in driver’s ed?

    Yes, but “highly inattentive” says it all. In addition to describing most humanoids issued a license to kill….er….drive.

    Not to let VW off the hook. If it says Park it really should be Park. Oh wait, we live in the era where things mean what the speaker wants them to mean; holding someone’s words to specific meanings is some sort of -ism if not a microaggression. Nevermind, VW.

  • avatar

    If this was like Ford in the 1970s, they could have just mailed out millions of silver-and-black warning stickers. Problem solved!

  • avatar

    I can almost hear the computer voice: “I know you put it in Park, Dave, but I’m sorry I’m afraid I cannot do that.”

  • avatar

    Well, I guess you can’t be too careful…

  • avatar

    Bet the 200 people who bought VW with manual transmissions don’t have this problem. Co-incidentally my micro switches that turn on the head lights when raised failed. I haven’t fixed it yet, because I can turn the lights on manually.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a manual GTI, and this doesn’t affect me!
      But in VW style, my sunroof rattles like there is no tomorrow and the dealership cannot fix it, so they tell me they “cannot reproduce the problem.”

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Much like those of us with manual cars for which the Ford Powershift is the Automatic option. Yet again, just get the manual and you won’t have this problem.

  • avatar

    And thats the company we supposed to trust to lead the charge into shiny all-electric future. For some reason Germans have difficulty with handling electrons. They are good in mechanical stuff though. But then again mechanical is stuff of past – there is Apple watch and ICE is essentially dead.

    • 0 avatar

      HAL 9000 (actual movie quote):

      “I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”

  • avatar
    TheDumbGuy-formerly JoeBrick

    Don’t worry ! This is only a slight electrical problem caused by a system that was recently made electrical rather than mechanical. And they will be soon replacing hundreds of mechanical components with electrical components. I see nothing wrong here. It was just a minor Fahrvergnügen.
    I hope I did not soil my pants !

  • avatar

    I am highly inattentive, glad my car tells me to shift into park. (’18 Sportwagen SEL)

    I do it all the time, but I blame the keyless start.

  • avatar

    My wife and I had a recent Jetta rental – the one with the 1.4T engine – I was impressed enough with the mileage and handling (and legroom!) that I thought it would be a good city car to buy for her.

    With a manual… apparently.

    But I still fear the long-term mechanical worthiness though.

  • avatar

    If I’m understanding this correctly – you could turn off the car and pull the key without being park, thus leaving the car in drive or neutral, which might cause issues?

    But, if you actually put it in Park, THEN shut it off, nothing strange should happen? I.e. the problem is in a “nanny” circuit that shouldn’t impact any driver actually paying attention?

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