Turn on seat heating, short out airbags? Sounds dangerous.
Audi is recalling more than 200,000 vehicles from model years 2017 to 2020 because of a problem with the passenger side airbag sensors. According to the NHTSA report the passenger object detection system (PODS) on certain vehicles is integrated into the seat heaters with a connected wire.
If the wire has a fault, the system could switch off the passenger airbag. Thankfully the PODS is connected to a warning light in the instrument cluster noting that the safety feature is off. It would be much worse if the fault didn't illuminate the light.
The recall includes about 20,000 S5s including Sportbacks, 123,000 A4s and Allroads, 11,000 A5s, 28,000 A5 Sportbacks, about 5,000 RS5 models and 10,000 S4s, all sold in the US and Canada. Build dates range all the way from 2015 for some of the A4s to 2019 for the RS5s. The NHTSA notes that in the event of a crash there'd obviously be an increase of the chance of injury due to the non-deploying airbag.
The fix includes replacing the seat heating mats if necessary, including the connecting cable, or the entire seat covers at no cost to customers. The new components have the connection shielded, as do cars built after November 18, 2019.
Owners should be contacted by January 7, 2022, and owners can call a dealer or Audi's customer service number at 800-253-2834 to see if they are affected. This isn't a "park your car" situation, so as long as your warning light isn't on, and you don't have anyone in the passenger seat, you're good to keep driving.
This has been a big month for recalls with Ram issuing a massive one for its HD trucks with faulty fuel pumps. Chevy is finally working on an acceptable Bolt fix and even Tesla, not normally one to participate with NHTSA, issued a recall for its Full Self-Driving software a few weeks ago. Our country's process of getting cars to market is good, but it will never be perfect.