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‘I thought I was going to die that day’: Driver says her SUV braked on its own

CHARLOTTE — Ashley Allen says she was on her way to work when her 2019 Volkswagen Atlas suddenly braked on its own.

“People around me were slamming on brakes to keep from hitting me,” Allen said. “It was very scary. I thought I was going to die that day.”

In March, Volkswagen recalled 223,000 2019-2023 Atlas sports utility vehicles. According to the company, the door wiring harness electrical contacts may corrode, which could lead to the driver or passenger front side airbag inflating late in a crash, the windows inadvertently rolling down or the vehicles braking on their own.

Volkswagen owner Ashley Allen talks to Action 9's Jason Stoogenke.

Volkswagen says the braking issue would only happen at low speeds (below approximately 1.8 mph), but Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke searched National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records and found some drivers say they were moving much faster when their SUV braked. One driver claimed it happened at 70 mph. Allen says she was going between 30 and 40 mph.

“It terrifies me that I could have my grandbabies in that car and that could happen,” she said.

Stoogenke checked Allen’s vehicle identification number on Tuesday and both the NHTSA’s website and Volkswagen’s site said the repair was not available.

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“I don’t expect anything for nothing. I don’t want a brand new car. I want a safe vehicle,” Allen said. “That’s what I want at this point, and I don’t feel safe in that at all.”

Volkswagen says you should be able to get the airbag fixed now, but repairs for the rest of the recall (for the brakes and the windows) should be available in about a month.

If you have questions about the recall, contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 97GF. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or go to nhtsa.gov.

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