A number of Volkswagen and Audi vehicle models are plagued by an apparent water pump module defect that the automakers have failed to disclose to drivers, a proposed class action alleges.
The 54-page lawsuit alleges the following vehicle models—the “class vehicles”—contain a “defectively manufactured” thermoplastic water pump module, which consists of a water pump, thermostat and integrated sensors, that can fail prematurely and cause sudden overheating or catastrophic engine failure:
2015-2020 Audi A3 (1.8L and 2.0L engines);
2015-2019 Audi A3 Quattro;
2017-2019 Audi A4;
2017-2019 Audi A4 Allroad;
2017-2019 Audi A4 Quattro;
2018-2019 Audi A5 Quattro;
2018-2019 Audi A5 Sportback;
2015-2018 Audi A6;
2015-2018 Audi A6 Quattro;
2015-2018 Audi Q3;
2015-2018 Audi Q3 Quattro;
2018-2020 Audi Q5;
2016-2020 Audi TT Quattro;
2017-2019 Audi Q7;
2015-2019 Audi S3;
2016-2020 Audi TTS Quattro;
2019-2020 Volkswagen Arteon;
2018-2020 Volkswagen Atlas;
2015-2019 Volkswagen Beetle (1.8L and 2.0L engines);
According to the complaint filed in New Jersey federal court, Volkswagen Group of America, Audi of America and the brands’ German parent companies have known of the alleged water pump defect since at least June 2016. The plaintiffs, drivers from California, allege Volkswagen and Audi have not only actively concealed the water pump module flaw but are unable or unwilling to adequately fix the problem when it arises. Per the suit, the problem has diminished the intrinsic and resale value of proposed class members’ vehicles.
The water pump in the aforementioned vehicle models assists with cooling the engine while the cars are in operation, the complaint relays. Without a properly functioning water pump, the engine can overheat and eventually fail catastrophically, the suit reads.
A key feature of the vehicle’s water pump system is a thermostat, which monitors an engine’s operating temperature, the suit says. As the heat builds as an engine continues to run, the thermostat within the cooling system begins to open, and the water pump starts taking coolant from a vehicle’s radiator and moving it through the engine block and associated components to absorb heat, the case explains. Engine coolant then returns to the radiator where it is cooled and then cycled through the engine again, per the lawsuit.
The issue, the case alleges, is that the water pump module, which houses the water pump and thermostat, in the above-listed vehicles is manufactured from plastic material, as opposed to the aluminum used by other automakers, and can crack. When the defect manifests, the suit says, hot engine coolant can leak out of the water pump and into the thermostat and potentially melt the electrical plug that connects to the engine. When this happens, the case explains, the thermostat can become stuck open, closed or in-between the two, preventing the engine from properly opening or closing the coolant passages within and in turn preventing the engine from operating at an optimal temperature.
Per the lawsuit, engine coolant from a cracked water pump module can also leak into a vehicle’s power cables connected to its computer. A leak can also reduce the amount of engine coolant in a vehicle’s system, which can further impair an engine’s ability to operate properly, the suit adds.
The suit alleges the defendants have conveyed to drivers who’ve experienced the defect that their Volkswagen and Audi vehicles are operating as intended, and therefore the problem cannot be repaired under warranty or otherwise. Once a class vehicle is outside of its warranty period, however, Volkswagen and Audi, the lawsuit says, charge owners and lessees for costly repairs, with the companies attempting to limit their warranty obligations. The lawsuit stresses that despite notice and knowledge of the water pump defect, the defendants have nevertheless failed to issue a recall or offer acceptable repairs or replacements free of charge.
“Had Plaintiffs and other Class Members known of the Defect at the time of purchase or lease, they would not have bought or leased the Class Vehicles, or would have paid substantially less for them,” the complaint reads.
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