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Two NHTSA Probes Have Been Opened into Volkswagen, Audi Models

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The U.S. government's highway safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has opened two investigations into problems with Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, one of which involves serious gasoline leaks under the hood.

Details of the investigations, which affect nearly 215,000 vehicles, were posted Friday on the agency's website.

The largest inquiry involves more than 191,000 Volkswagen Atlas SUVs from model years 2018 through 2020. NHTSA says it received three complaints and 11 reports alleging leaks near fuel injectors on models equipped with the 3.6L V6 engine.

Some of the complaints report fuel literally gushing out of the engine compartment, which obviously creates a fire risk. NHTSA documents indicate that no fires have been linked to this problem so far, but fuel leaks increase the risk because the gasoline can hit components that are already at high temperatures.

The investigation could lead to a recall, but that stage has not bene reached yet. Volkswagen says any owner who smells gasoline should contact their dealer immediately.

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2016 Audi S7
Photo: Audi
2016 Audi S7

The other investigation involves just over 23,000 Audi A8s, S6s, S7s, S8s and RS7s from 2013 to 2016 model-years. In this case, the agency says it received 58 complaints and 3 reports involving twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8 engines that stall without warning while the vehicle is running.

Many of these complaints attribute the problem to a turbocharger failure caused by a lack of oil flow.

In both probes, NHTSA says it will determine the extent and severity of the situation and assess potential safety issues. If necessary, a recall will take place. We will be monitoring this closely.