Report: Every New VW Golf Has Been Recalled in Germany

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Volkswagen cannot seem to get away from software issues on its newer vehicles. This problem botched the launch of numerous models, including the Mk8 Golf, and seems to have returned now that every single example of the car is being recalled in Europe.

Drivers have been reporting gauge clusters displaying incorrect data, infotainment systems going offline, keys failing, and advanced driving aids that are perpetually on the fritz. The latter issue has also resulted in Golfs engaging in some erratic behavior, like erroneously triggering their own forward collision-warning sensors. This has left more than a few drivers complaining about cars stopping randomly in traffic as the automatic emergency braking system came alive.

Since I don’t speak fluent German, you’ll have to settle for the broader strokes. But the gist of the matter is that these VWs are boasting a lot of problems related to the software the automaker has been trying to fix since before the Mk8 Golf launched in December of 2019.

Volkswagen had to delay the model so it could address software issues ahead of it going on the market. Considering the manufacturer was framing the new Golf as technologically superior to its predecessors and a taste of things to come, that was undoubtedly the smart play. However, the model still landed on the market in less than optimal shape, forcing VW to issue post-launch software updates. The first of these took place early in 2021 and were designed to address infotainment glitches and non-functional backup cameras on roughly 56,000 cars.

According to Der Spiegel, it was insufficient in addressing the problem as consumer complaints continued to mount. The manufacture now plans on recalling 220,000 units in Germany alone, with another 150,000 units lacking over-the-air updates located across the whole of Europe.

“The company emphasized that it was not a recall ordered by the Federal Motor Transport Authority, but rather ‘a voluntary service campaign to improve and optimize the multimedia system.’ The action has already started. All owners should be written to and invited by the responsible service partners in the spring.” the outlet explained in its native German. “Newly produced Golf 8s are also said to be equipped with more powerful hardware.”

It also said Auto Motor und Sport was the first outlet to learn of the recall, which provided some additional context. Owners aren’t just worried that their cars are terrible to drive today but that the numerous issues will negatively impact residual values. This could lead to problems with leased vehicles as well, though the publication noted that the actual number of vehicles impacted by software problems was relatively small. Details were also provided pertaining to what the latest software push would be addressing (translated from German):

According to the report by Auto Motor und Sport, the focus of the revised software is on frequently used applications such as navigation and voice control. By removing superfluous communication channels and interfaces, the so-called base load of the system is reduced by around 20 percent, according to VW. As a result, the system starts faster and works more smooth and stable.

The complete upgrade will benefit all newly produced Golfs [starting] from the end of this year, the software improvements will also be given to existing vehicles via updates. Since VW does not offer an over-the-air update for vehicles built before week 48 in 2020, around 150,000 registered Golf 8s have to go to the workshop across Europe.

While Volkswagen already opted to remove the standard Golf from our market, imported GTIs and Golf Rs from the 2022 model year are indeed Mk8s. If you own one, you’re probably well acquainted with their wonky touchscreen interface. But you might want to double check that you’re frustrations are actually the result of poor interior design (hint to manufacturers: People still want buttons and knobs) and not the same software issues that have been troubling Europeans.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Loopy55 Loopy55 on Dec 18, 2021

    Big deal, they are requesting owners bring their car in for a software update if they can’t get it OTA. Not sure why the automotive press is getting their knickers in a knot over this story. Every car brand has has issues like this that get fixed over time…hello Ford Sync.

    • See 2 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Dec 20, 2021

      Right, but Sync didn't make cars stop themselves randomly in traffic.

  • Irvingklaws Irvingklaws on Dec 20, 2021

    In a way it's a step forward. Hats off to VAGs transparency and not having to be sued into admitting and fixing the problem. I'm sure something like this happened to my father when the brakes on his new 2019 Subaru Forester completely failed to operate upon approaching a busy intersection. Not only did the car fail to automatically brake, the pedal sank to the floor and had no effect. No manual E-brake to reach for, he took the intersection in the oncoming lane on 2 wheels and miraculously managed to not hit anything. After coasting to a stop and restarting the car the brakes seemed to work fine. He took it the remaining few blocks home and refused to drive it again. After weeks of wrangling the dealer and Subaru claimed to find nothing wrong. Though when the car came back he said it, "felt different." As if some internal settings or thresholds had been tweaked or reset. Guessing this sort of thing happens a bunch and gets quietly fixed in the next mass software update without ever admitting or notifying the general public there was an issue.

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.