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Are VW parts callbacks the start of a much larger industry recall?

Volkswagen's recall of 450,000 SUVs that have been affected by failing parts could be just the tip of the iceberg. With industry consolidation, it is quite possible that as many as 13 other carmakers and suppliers could also be facing their own set of callbacks.

Some time ago, Volkswagen and its subsidiaries Porsche and Audi announced the recall of more than 450,000 SUVs to replace faulty fuel pump parts. The vehicles affected by the recall include some Porsche Macan's, Audi Q5's and Q7's and VW Touareg's built and sold over the last 10 years.

Sometimes small parts have big impact

At issue is the fuel pump flange. The flange usually mounts in the fuel tank. It closes an opening that used in conjunction with other fuel and vapor management devices. The potentially faulty pump parts also went to 13 other automakers and suppliers by Continental AG, an auto parts manufacturer headquartered in Germany.

In a posting Friday on its website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a probe of the flanges that can crack, causing a fuel leak, increasing the risk of fires.

Continental, in its own NHTSA filing, said that it sold the defective parts to among others:

  • General Motors
  • Ford
  • Fiat Chrysler Autos
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • McLaren Automotive
  • Lamborghini
  • Volvo
  • Magna International
  • TI Automotive
  • Plastic Omnium
  • YAPP USA Automotive Systems
  • Kautex Textron

Spokespeople for the federal highway safety agency and the company said there had been no reports of fires or injury.

Plastic used throughout car industry

Mary Arraf, a spokeswoman for Continental, said the company used the industry-standard plastic material polyoxymethylene-copolymer to make the parts. In recalled vehicles, the material can break down due to exposure to the acids in cleaning solutions. The location of the part also raises the risk of a crack. Arraf said Continental is communicating with all customers who may be potentially impacted by the flange problem. So far, other than VW, Porsche, and Audi vehicles, they have not heard of other leaking flanges.

Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc., told Automotive News that it is too early to figure out how many extra vehicles may need a recall. He indicated that the situation highlights how a faulty part can create a ripple risk throughout the industry. “That’s kind of what the story of the whole auto industry is. Consolidation has happened, and there’s a race for cheaper parts that are shared across more vehicles,” Sullivan said.

There was no comment from Volkswagen.