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Volkswagen Golf, SportWagen rollaway recall affects 33,000 cars

A defective switch means owners could remove the key without putting the car in park.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
Golf SportWagens equipped with an automatic transmission are being recalled.

Volkswagen is recalling 33,168 vehicles because drivers could inadvertently remove the car when the transmission is not in "Park," potentially allowing rollaway accidents and violating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards rule 104. The recall affects versions of the 2015-2018 Golf and Golf SportWagen equipped with automatic transmissions.

The problem stems from microswitches that are supposed to detect the position of the ignition switch and prevent the key from being removed. But Volkswagen says a silicate build-up on the microswitch contacts can prevent that. If an owner removes the car's key thinking the transmission is in "Park" when it is not, the car could roll away and cause an accident.

To remedy the problem, Volkswagen dealers will install an additional switch and a new circuit board. Volkswagen expects to start the recall on Sept. 8. Volkswagen will also recall the Golf and Golf SportWagen in Canada for the same issue. There, the recall affects 24,123 vehicles.

Rollaway accidents have been the subject of many recalls in recent years, sometimes due to manufacturing problems (such as Ford's recent 550,000-vehicle recall or Ram's 200,000-truck one) and other times due to new shifter designs that confuse drivers. Either way, it's an important issue and one any affected VW owners would do well to have rectified as soon as possible.