VW Atlas Problems: 14 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

The Volkswagen Atlas has become a popular choice among SUV enthusiasts. However, it has not been without its share of issues.

In this article, we will be discussing common Volkswagen Atlas problems reported by owners, providing insights into areas that may require attention.

The Main Problems

12V Battery Issues

One common issue reported by Volkswagen Atlas owners is the frequent death of the 12V battery. This problem has been particularly prevalent in the 2018 and 2019 Atlas models.

Instances of the vehicle suddenly dying while driving have been reported, forcing drivers to seek roadside assistance.

Faulty Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors play a critical role in the efficient operation of all direct injection engines.

They are responsible for delivering the precise amount of fuel required for combustion, ensuring that the engine operates at its optimal performance level. However, a common issue faced by Atlas vehicle owners is the presence of faulty fuel injectors, which can lead to a range of problems affecting the engine’s overall functionality.

When fuel injectors become faulty, they may not deliver the correct amount of fuel into the intake manifold, thereby affecting the combustion process. This can lead to several adverse effects, such as reduced fuel efficiency, increased emissions, and decreased engine performance.

In some cases, faulty fuel injectors may even cause the engine to misfire, which can be particularly dangerous while driving.

Unexpected Coolant Loss

Another problem that has been observed in some vehicles is the unexpected loss of coolant.

Coolant is essential for maintaining the proper temperature within the engine, preventing it from overheating during operation. A sudden loss of coolant can lead to a rapid increase in engine temperature, which, if left unchecked, can result in severe engine damage or complete failure.

There are several factors that can contribute to unexpected coolant loss, including:

  • leaks within the cooling system,
  • a damaged radiator,
  • or a malfunctioning water pump.

It is essential for vehicle owners to regularly check their coolant levels and address any concerns immediately to avoid potentially costly repairs or even a total engine replacement.

Fuel Pump Failure: A Threat to Engine Performance and Reliability

A properly functioning fuel pump is essential for supplying the engine with the necessary fuel to maintain optimal performance. However, some Atlas vehicle owners have reported instances of fuel pump failure, which can lead to a variety of issues that may compromise the engine’s overall performance and reliability.

When a fuel pump malfunctions, it may not deliver an adequate amount of fuel to the engine, which can result in poor performance, such:

  • as sluggish acceleration,
  • reduced fuel efficiency,
  • or even stalling.

In extreme cases, a failed fuel pump can prevent the engine from starting altogether, leaving drivers stranded and in need of immediate assistance.

Steering Column Issues

Another common problem observed in the model is strange noises emerging when turning the steering wheel.

This may be due to issues within the steering column, potentially affecting the vehicle’s steering capabilities.

Problem Models Affected
12V Battery Issues 2018, 2019
Faulty Fuel Injectors across all
Unexpected Coolant Loss across all
Fuel Pump Failure across all
Steering Column Issues across all

Other Smaller Problems

In addition to the major issues faced by owners, there are some other smaller problems that have been reported by users.

These issues, although not as severe, still require attention to ensure the overall driving experience remains satisfactory.

Below is a list of some other smaller problems that Volkswagen Atlas owners may encounter:

  • Faulty fuel injectors: Some  vehicles have experienced issues with their fuel injectors, resulting in reduced performance or inconsistent operation.
  • Engine noise on shutdown: A few users have reported hearing unusual noises when turning off the engine, which may indicate mechanical wear or other issues to investigate.
  • Unexpected coolant loss: Cases of coolant loss without any visible leaks have been reported, which may require further investigation to identify the source of the issue.
  • Fuel pump failure: Some Atlas owners have experienced fuel pump failures, leading to a loss of engine power and potential roadside breakdowns.
  • Faulty clockspring: The clockspring in some Volkswagen Atlas models has been reported to malfunction, possibly affecting the functionality of the driver’s airbag and other steering wheel-mounted controls.
  • Transmission rattling noise: A rattling noise when shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear has been reported by some owners, potentially indicating a problem with the transmission.
  • Incredibly noisy interior: Some owners have complained about excessive noise within the cabin while driving, which can detract from the comfort of the vehicle.
  • Excessive wind noise: Reports of excessive wind noise in the 2018 model at speeds above 40 mph have been made by some users, potentially indicating inadequate sealing around doors or windows.
  • Electrical issues: Volkswagen has recalled nearly 225,000 Atlas vehicles for electrical issues linked to the wiring harness, which may cause problems with various electronic systems in the vehicle.

It’s important to keep in mind that these issues may not affect all Volkswagen Atlas vehicles, and many owners enjoy a trouble-free driving experience.

However, being aware of these smaller problems can help owners address any concerns promptly and maintain the overall performance and comfort of their vehicle.

General Pros and Cons with the Models

The Volkswagen Atlas has gained popularity among consumers due to a variety of factors. In this section, we will discuss the general pros and cons of the Atlas.

Some of the positive aspects include:

  • Competent ride and handling
  • Quiet cabin
  • Spacious interior with a comfortable layout
  • Agile driving experience, even at higher speeds

There are certain drawbacks and issues reported by owners. These include:

  • 12V battery problems, particularly in the 2018 and 2019 models
  • Poor fuel economy, especially in comparison to other mid-sized SUVs
  • Lack of premium features that are synonymous with the Volkswagen brand

Keep in mind that the aforementioned pros and cons may vary depending on the specific model year and individual experiences.

Does It Have More Problems Than Its Competitors?

The Volkswagen Atlas is a popular family vehicle in the midsize SUV market, but how does it fare in terms of problems when compared to its competitors? Based on various reviews and complaints, the Atlas may have more issues than some of its direct rivals.

Some of the most common problems reported by Atlas owners include:

  • Electrical issues related to wiring harness
  • Excessive wind noise at higher speeds

In 2020, Volkswagen recalled nearly 225,000 Atlas vehicles due to electrical issues linked to the wiring harness. While recalls are not uncommon in the automotive industry, this particular issue does stand out when comparing the Atlas to other midsize SUVs.

Regarding wind noise, the issue is relatively more pronounced in the Atlas compared to other vehicles in its class, such as the Honda Pilot or the Subaru Ascent.

This may not be a deal-breaker for every potential buyer, but it’s still worth considering when researching midsize SUV options.

It’s essential to weigh these issues against VW Atlas’s positive attributes such as space, comfort, and overall driving experience. Additionally, other competitors in the crowded midsize SUV market may have their own problems, and it’s crucial to evaluate each aspect of the vehicle and its rivals before making a purchase decision.

What’s the Resale Value?

The Volkswagen Atlas is a popular three-row SUV; however, its resale value may not be as high as some of its competitors.

While the 2019 model received a “Great” Resale Value score of 77 out of 100 from J.D. Power, Japanese and American SUVs tend to score in the low- to mid-80s.

Volkswagens typically lose their resale value a bit more quickly compared to other brands.

To give you a clearer picture, here are some price examples for used models along with their respective depreciation rates. Please note that these prices may vary depending on factors such as condition, location, and availability.

Model Year Mileage Price Depreciation
2021 12,000 miles $23,885 Approx. 30%
2020 24,000 miles $21,500 Approx. 38%
2019 36,000 miles $19,750 Approx. 42%

Keep in mind that the depreciation rates mentioned are approximate and should be taken as a reference.

Actual rates may differ depending on various factors, such as maintenance and demand for the specific model.

What Do the Reviews Say?

Customers who have experienced the Volkswagen Atlas highlighted certain issues with the vehicle. One common problem is related to excessive wind noise.

As mentioned in a review:

“The vehicle produces excessive noise when driving, most notable at speeds above 40 mph.” – Anonymous review

Another user praised the Atlas for its comfort during long drives, but remained concerned about its reliability:

“The Atlas is at home on the long road trips…but we still have concerns about reliability.” – Edmunds.com

These quotes provide insight into some of the key concerns that Volkswagen Atlas owners have shared while driving their vehicles.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.