Audi is recalling over 150,000 of its A3, S3, A3 e-tron and RS3 models due to a problem with the passenger side airbag configuration. The automaker said the occupant detection system can mistakenly deactivate the airbag even if someone is present.
The problem affects the 2016-2020 A3, 2016-2018 A3 e-tron, 2016-2020 S3 and 2018-2020 RS3. The A3 sedan (from 2013-2019 model years) had already been recalled for this problem back in 2019. At that time, Audi installed a new, more-robust connector and an optimized cable routing system.
Complaints were again identified in 2020 on vehicles that had been in the shop for that first fix. Despite its investigation, Audi was unable to find the "root cause" of the problem, it said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The company believes there is “an additional issue . . . within the PODS system, beyond the issue addressed”. Audi noted that no accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the problem.
Audi is still working on a solution, but will notify owners of vehicles affected by the recall starting May 21.
Transport Canada added a relevant piece of information that may be of interest to owners, posting on its website that the problem “would cause an error message to display on the instrument panel and a warning chime to sound. The airbag indicator light would also display “passenger airbag off””.
In Canada, 18,204 models are affected.