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By Ralph Kisiel
Automotive News / February 04, 2003

DETROIT — Volkswagen of America Inc. and Audi of America Inc. are voluntarily recalling 530,000 VW and Audi cars to replace engine ignition coils that have been failing at a higher than normal rate.

The companies said the recall mostly involves 2001 and 2002 model year cars with the 1.8 T engine. Also affected are early production 2003 models.

The companies are notifying all customers potentially affected and are initially replacing those ignition coils that fail at no cost. They will replace all ignition coils — whether they fail or not — in the coming months. The company said that they should have all the necessary coils by early March.

“We know that some ignition coils installed in our cars are not up to our high quality standards, and we are determined to do the right thing for our customers,” Gerd Klauss, president of VW of America, said in a statement. “The right thing to do is to fix every single car with these coils by replacing them whether they are broken yet or not. That is exactly what we will do as soon as we have the parts.”

Ironically, VW just told dealers at the NADA conference Monday in San Francisco that it has created a post of “quality leader” in North America and is beefing up its field staff to sort through the problems.

The new U.S. staff is being assembled to uncover vehicle problems and correct them at VW factories.

Stefan Ketter will lead the quality team. He was in charge of quality planning at VW’s operations in Brazil.

The vehicles affected in this action include cars equipped with the turbocharged 1.8-liter engines, which includes the Audi TT and A4; and the VW Golf, GTI, Jetta, New Beetle and Passat. Also included in the recall are the Passat W8, which has VW’s first eight-cylinder engine, all VW’s equipped with the 2.8-liter VR6 engine, and the Audi 3.0-liter V-6 engine.

The ignition coils provide electricity to the engine’s spark plugs during operation. VW and Audi have recognized through service reports that the ignition coils used in the products listed above have a higher-than-normal failure rate. If an ignition coil fails, the check engine light/malfunction indicator lamp will blink. The car’s performance may, in some cases, become rough and/or the engine will lose some power and the car should be taken to an authorized dealer for repair. The engine and its electronic controls are designed to keep the vehicle running. Some deterioration in performance, however, can be expected.

Klauss said the unnamed supplier is working triple shifts and seven days a week to make as many new parts as possible. Additionally, a second supplier has been activated.

Customers will be notified soon by mail that VW and Audi will begin replacing all ignition coils in cars potentially affected, whether a failure has occurred or not. This action will begin as soon as replacement ignition coil supply volumes will allow, the company said.

In order to minimize inconvenience to customers during repair, VW and Audi dealers will offer alternative transportation at no cost.

The recall is global, also impacting VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands.

The company has not spoken with the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.

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2001 Lexus RX300 Silversport
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