Recalls have been issued for the latest 2018 Volkswagen Polo, plus the new Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona, after a Finnish car magazine discovered a safety issue that could lead to the middle passenger’s seatbelt unbuckling itself.
The issue was found during on-track testing – when steering through an evasive lane-change manoeuvre with five people on board, the outer and middle-seat passenger seatbelt buckles clashed, leading to the middle seatbelt becoming unlocked.
The magazine repeated this several times, on the Polo, Ibiza and Arona – and the safety issue repeatedly arose.
Volkswagen Group advised owners of the three cars – all derived from the same platform – not to use the middle seat while the issue was investigated. The car firm has now recalled all models sold to date for a technical fix.
“There is the possibility,” said Volkswagen and Seat in statements, “that in rare situations (e.g. sudden quick lane changes with five passengers on board) and when the rear centre seat and the rear left seat are occupied at the same time, the left seat belt lock could be unintentionally released.”
There is now a technical solution: “A redesigned belt lock fixture, which will prevent this from happening.”
All three cars are still legally homologated and safe to drive, added VW and Seat: however, they’ve advised customers not to use the middle seat until the fix is made. And this won’t be an immediate repair, either: Volkswagen and Seat are “now addressing the concerned authorities for their final validation in order to implement the solution, both on vehicles in the market as well as on the future series production”.
The recall campaign will start within the next few weeks: customers will be contacted by letter, for a safety check and, if necessary, the fitment of a redesigned part.
“The check, as well as the implementation of the redesigned belt lock fixture will be free of charge.”