Founded by the German Labor Front in 1930s Nazi Germany, Volkswagen has grown from a single government-owned factory to become the largest automaker in the world. Today, Volkswagen has over 100 production facilities in 27 different countries. It has been the largest seller of automobiles in Europe for more than 20 years and is now the largest supplier of cars to China.

Volkswagen, or VW, means “The People's Car” and was founded as a state-run manufacturing operation in 1937. Originally created to build the vehicle now known as the Beetle, Volkswagen survived World War II to become the poster child of economic growth in West Germany. The company was resurrected from the war by an enterprising British serviceman and eventually handed off to the government of West Germany. Since becoming a private company, VW has a large offering of vehicle models under its own branding as well as from its many subsidiaries, including Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, and Audi.

Popular Models

As the largest automaker in the world, it's no surprise that VW has a wide range of vehicle offerings in almost every class. Volkswagen has popular selling compact cars, sedans, and sports utility vehicles. With different offerings in different counties, the most popular Volkswagen vehicle can vary greatly around the world.

When it comes to sales volume, the most popular Volkswagen is the VW Golf. First produced in 1974, the Golf is in its 7th generation and is still marketed worldwide. Formerly known as the VW Rabbit in the United States, the Golf was originally an iteration on the VW Beetle but has changed significantly in the years since.

The second most popular VW model is the Jetta. Originally a compact car intended to be a step up from the Golf, the Jetta has grown into a midsize sedan over the years. The Jetta is one of the highest-selling models worldwide, with more than 14 million units sold in 2014 alone. The Jetta is marketed in both gasoline and diesel variants.

Another popular model of VW is the Passat. First marketed in 1973, the Volkswagen Passat is a mid-size car that comes in a 5-door option. The Passat is known for its many technological features, including semi-automatic parking and emergency driver assist.

Volkswagen Safety Ratings

Much has been made about German engineering, and VW vehicles are part of the reason. Volkswagen has a long record of strong safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Their safety ratings have also steadily improved over recent years. A good example of this is the VW Jetta, which in 2014 had “Marginal” crash ratings from the IIHS for the driver side of the vehicle. The 2019 model, however, is rated “Good” across the board for crashworthiness.

Newer models, like the VW Atlas, have been rated “Good” for crashworthiness since the year they hit the market. But some older models, like the classic VW Beetle, have rated “Marginal” for at least one safety rating for years. All in all, however, Volkswagen vehicles rate well for safety and reliability.

Recalls, Defects, and Safety Issues

Despite the strong safety rating most VW models receive, the reality is that safety and reliability issues are all too common. Some of the most popular models like the Jetta and Passat have been subject to frequent recalls. Below are some of the major safety issues facing Volkswagen vehicles in recent years.

Emissions Scandal

One of the most-publicized issues in Volkswagen's history is the enormous emissions scandal uncovered in 2015. Also known as “diesel gate,” the scandal erupted when the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that many Volkswagen diesel engines were programmed to only engage their emissions controls during laboratory emissions testing. The end result was hundreds of thousands of vehicles entering the market with significantly higher emissions than advertised. The scandal ultimately cost VW nearly $3 billion in fines and more than $16 billion in an effort to correct the emissions issue in their vehicles. The consumers ultimately suffered, as the fix concocted by Volkswagen corrected the emissions issue at the expense of gas mileage.

Tire Failure

According to a March 2019 recall, more than 50,000 Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, and Tiguan models manufactured from 2015 through 2019 are at risk for tire failures and crashes. The issue comes from concern over real coil springs that are prone to fracture. When these coils fracture, they can damage the rear tire. If the fracture occurs while the vehicle is in motion, the damaged tire can lead to a crash. Despite the risk, there have not been any reports of crashes caused by the faulty coil.

Anti-Lock Brake Failure

In 2017, Volkswagen announced a recall of more than 766,000 vehicles due to issues with the anti-lock brake system. The issue was caused by a “thermo-mechanical overload” that could cause the anti-lock brake system to fail in certain conditions. These failures were most common when drivers turn the wheel sharply or braked suddenly. This brake issue affects Golf and Jetta models manufactured from years 2008 through 2010.

Airbag Deployment Failure

An installation mistake has led to a small recall of 2019 Volkswagen Jettas. The Jetta models were improperly installed with the incorrect airbag during routine service. Because the wrong airbag was installed, the airbags are at risk of not deploying at all in a crash. Despite the risk, there are no reports of injuries or fatalities related to the airbag issue.

VW Problems? Discuss Your Options With an Attorney and Get the Help You Need.

While Volkswagen has long enjoyed a reputation for reliability, there have been ample safety issues that have plagued their vehicles for years. If you are experiencing issues with your VW, it is possible you are entitled to relief through the California Lemon Law. To learn about your options, get in touch with The Lemon Lawyer right away. Our experienced attorneys have the answers to your questions and provide you with guidance on how to proceed. For a free consultation, contact The Lemon Lawyer today by visiting our website or calling (844) 227-7762.

Don't Hesitate

The longer you let your car sit in the shop, the greater the cost is to you. If you think you may have a case, get in touch with one of our attorneys today.