Recall Recap: The 5 Biggest Recalls in August 2019

Recall-Recap-August-19-PD 2019 Volkswagen Beetle | illustration by Paul Dolan

Nobody likes when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, especially when it’s the two-ton hunk of car parts sitting in your driveway. That’s why, when a problem becomes a complaint becomes an investigation becomes a recall, automakers try their hardest to get your attention so you can get it fixed. It’s not just junk mail — it’s a letter that could potentially save your life.

Related: Is Your Car in One of the 5 Biggest Recalls of 2018?

Thing is, recalls happen all the time. Some are relatively minor; some are, well, the Takata airbag inflator crisis. Each is important no matter the month, but it can be hard to keep up with knowing if your vehicle is involved.

Not up to speed? We’ve got you. Below are the biggest recalls we covered from August, in terms of volume of vehicles affected. For more coverage, check out our Recalls page, and for a comprehensive list of recalls that include all things road-going, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page here.

1. 679,000 2011-2019 Volkswagen Cars

Volkswagen is one automaker that cannot wait to see “Hot Girl Summer” hit the rearview mirror. After topping the list of our most far-reaching recalls in July, the German automaker made it back-to-back biggies with a recall for some 679,000 Volkswagen Golf, GTI, Golf GTI, Golf SportWagen, Beetle and Jetta vehicles. The rub is a silicate buildup on a shift-lever component that may allow you to remove the key when the car isn’t in Park, increasing the risk of an unintended rollaway. You don’t want your car winding up in someone else’s lawn (or living room), so to get this ailment resolved, dealers will install an additional switch and circuit board.

2. 483,000 Ford Trucks, SUVs and Lincoln SUVs

Ford’s another automaker that has suffered a rough few months in terms of recalls. It, too, appeared on the July list, at No. 5, and it was Nos. 1 and 5 in June. This August recall came in a three-pack right at the end of the month and it affects the F-150 and Super Duty F-250 and F-350 pickup trucks, the Explorer and Expedition SUVs, and the Aviator SUV from Ford’s Lincoln luxury division. Unsurprisingly, given the popularity of the affected models, the affected vehicle count hits six figures. Seatback strength is at stake here, with a third pawl (a kind of sliding bolt) potentially missing in manual seatback recliners. Dealers will inspect and repair as necessary, but you don’t want those seats bending sinister any more than they have to. Prevent an unwanted Detroit lean and sort this out sooner than later.

3. 144,000 Audi A4, A4 Allroad, S4, A5, S5

It wasn’t just the Volkswagen Group’s flagship brand that had a rough month of it — the luxury Audi division made the list, too. In a recall that affected some 144,000 variants of the mid-range A4 and A5 lines, including their higher-performance S4 and S5 variants, oxidation in a connecting cable for the occupant detection system in the front-passenger seat could cause a software malfunction, ultimately leading to the passenger airbag not deploying. It’s a serious issue, but all dealers have to do is update some software for the airbag control unit. Don’t risk it.

4. 135,000 2003-08 Toyota Corolla, Matrix

For being one of the world’s largest automakers, Toyota has had a remarkably quiet year in terms of recalls. Its first appearance on our biggest-of-the-month list fell just a few thousand short of No. 3, and it’s a residual headache from the effects of the Takata airbag crisis. Replacement airbag inflators for vehicles affected in the crisis could be damaged, though Toyota declined to say how. That can cause the airbags not to inflate properly in the event of a crash — an opposite problem from the Takata inflators they were intended to replace. Toyota will contact owners by late October, but if you already know your Corolla or Matrix has a replacement Takata airbag inflator, bring it back to the dealer for a new front-passenger airbag assembly.

5. 103,400 2015 Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ

The first half of August was generally pretty quiet for recalls, so much so that we found ourselves scraping the bottom of the barrel just to let every last one of you know how much we care about your safety. But the last few days produced some doozies, and this one for more than 103,000 Ford and Lincoln sedans was the smallest of the big ones. Increased temperatures during the deployment of pretensioners for the front seat belt anchors could degrade their cables’ tensile strength, rendering the belts less effective and defeating the purpose of wearing one in the first place. Do yourself one better than avoiding a crash altogether, and visit your dealer for a coating to protect the cable.

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Patrick Masterson is Chief Copy Editor at He joined the automotive industry in 2016 as a lifelong car enthusiast and has achieved the rare feat of applying his journalism and media arts degrees as a writer, fact-checker, proofreader and editor his entire professional career. He lives by an in-house version of the AP stylebook and knows where semicolons can go. Email Patrick Masterson

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