This new VW recall, which includes the 2007-2009 Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Rabbit and Golf as well as the 2006-2010 New Beetle and New Beetle Convertible, actually pertains to two different issues that can have the same result. In the Jetta, Rabbit and Golf, there is a plastic tab on the windshield washer fluid reservoir that can rub against a fuel supply line and over time, the plastic tab can wear through the fuel line. For the Beetle hardtop and convertibles from 2006-2010, there is a fastening clamp on one of the power steering fluid lines that can also rub against the fuel supply line and like the recall issue on the Rabbit, Golf and Jetta, over time the friction between the two components can cause a fuel leak.
Should these two VW recall issues be left unaddressed and the friction causes a fuel leak, there is a wide variety of items under the hood of the car that can produce enough heat during operation to start a fire. In addition to the gasoline or diesel that has leaked from the fuel line, if the vehicle is being driven when the fire begins the fuel pump system could essentially keep adding fuel to the fire if the vehicle is left running when the fire begins (which is surprisingly common). Once the heat from the fuel fire grows intense enough and items like wires or brake fluid lines melt and the fluid ignites, this type of engine bay fire can turn into an inferno in a hurry.
This recall is expected to begin on or before January 31, 2011 at which point owners will be instructed to return to their friendly neighborhood VDub dealership where the vehicle will be serviced free of charge to the customer. In the Rabbit, Golf and Jetta, the plastic tab on the windshield washer fluid reservoir will be removed and in the New Beetle, the clamp for the power steering line will be inspected and relocated if necessary.