Monday 21 May 2018

Owners of new VW Polo supermini advised not to use rear seat amid faulty seatbelt fears

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Volkswagen is advising owners of its new Polo supermini not to use one of the car’s rear seats until a recall fixes a potential seatbelt fault.

The recall will get under way within weeks. It is understood the number of Irish cars affected, including those in stock, is likely to be around the 2,000 mark.

The auto giant says there is a possibility “in rare situations” that the left rear-seatbelt lock could release when all three rear seats are occupied.

 t cites the possibility of the fault arising if there is a sudden change in direction, for example, when the centre and left rear seats are occupied. Volkswagen insists the new Polo, launched last autumn, is safe to drive.

However, it is advising owners not to use the middle rear seat until the recall resolves the problem - even though the issue is apparently with the left rear seatbelt.

A Volkswagen spokesman in Germany explained the apparent contradiction to the Irish Independent. He said the weight and the ‘side-force movement’ of the occupants could press one belt lock case onto the other, forcing the left-side rear seat to release the buckle.

He added: “Our temporary advice is . . . if no one is seated in the centre seat at all until the refit is installed, there can’t be any force applied to release the left rear seatbelt lock.”

The recall involves fitting a “redesigned belt lock fixture” which will prevent the fault occurring in future.

A letter will be sent to owners so they can make an appointment with their dealer to have the fault fixed free of charge.

The problem came to light during recent ‘dynamic tests’ by Finnish motoring media.

They identified what Volkswagen describes as a ‘rare possible traffic situation’ in which the seat belt lock can open while the car is being driven.

With three seated in the back row the shift and force of body weights led to the buckle of one seatbelt being released.

Volkswagen say it is now waiting for the authorities to give final validation so it can implement the solution on cars already delivered to customers - and those for future production.

The Polo is one of Ireland’s most popular small cars with more than 1,300 registered so far this year. There would also be a number in stock which will require the solution being applied too.

Press Association

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