According to recent filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Volkwagen is recalling just over 679,000 cars over a problem where ignition keys could be removed before the vehicle was in park.

The problem exists in vehicles with real ignition keys (not push start models). It’s an electrical problem, which VW has struggled with in the past, related to a defective switch in the gear selector housing. A small layer of silicate can form on the contact, which prevents the switch from detecting whether the vehicle is really in park or not. That creates a risk of the car rolling away after the driver exits.

Although the affected vehicles are supposed to give warning messages and/or make noises, the problem sometimes leads to nothing at all happening.

This recall is a expansion of one of VW’s previous recalls. Roughly 33,000 vehicles were recalled in Summer 2018 for the same problem. Volkswagen continued to investigate the problem, and have now announced that more models are affected.

The affected vehicles (in the United States) are:

  • 2011–2018 Jetta
  • 2012–2019 Beetle
  • 2015–2019 GTI
  • 2015–2016 and 2018–2019 Golf
  • 2017–2019 Golf SportWagen

Only vehicles that use a metal ignition key and have a manual-crank hand brake are affected. If your model has push start ignition or electronic hand brake, it is not a part of this recall. So far, the company has not announced any injuries or car accidents related to the problem.

Affected cars will have new switches installed by dealers. Owners will get notifications in the mail, starting in October.

Volkswagen’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years, although most of that is related to Dieselgate — the scandal that began in 2015 where the company was found to have faked their emissions testing results for millions of sold vehicles.

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