Volkswagen is recalling 143,053 Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport crossover SUVs for a wiring malfunction that can prevent the front passenger airbag from deploying in the event of a crash, the NHTSA disclosed last week.

The recall encompasses certain 2018-2021 Atlas three-row crossovers as well as the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport mid-size crossover.

The affected vehicles have a passenger occupant detection system that is integrated with the front seat heater unit that VW calls Body Sense. The wire connecting the seat sensor with the heater unit can have a contact fault, causing the seat detection system to malfunction and shut off the passenger airbag. If the seat detection system thinks there’s no one in the seat, the airbag will not deploy in the event of a crash, even with the seat occupied.

Owners may notice there’s a problem with the unit because there may be an airbag warning light or error message in the cluster accompanied by an audible alert. VW recommends owners not to use the front passenger seat until the remedy recall has been completed.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and related five-seat Atlas Cross Sport has been recalled 16 times for a variety of issues, ranging from a side airbag issue to a loss of steering recall.

Owners can expect notification by mail as early as May 26, 2023. For more info, contact Volkswagen’s customer service at 1-800-893-5298 or visit VW’s recall website.

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