Looks like Volkswagen and General Motors can breathe a corporate sigh of relief. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed investigations into both companies without issuing fines or ordering a recall.

The government safety agency said it had reviewed 43 reports of engine fires in 2001-2007 VW Passat models. The turbocharged four cylinder's ignition coils apparently were the source of the blazes. We reported on the initial investigation here.

After a 19-month study, NHTSA said, "The fires observed were contained in the engine compartment and did not reach into the passenger compartment. There were no reports of crashes or personal injury in this examination. A safety-related defect has not been identified at this time."

"Safety-related defect" or not, that hardly sounds comforting for Passat owners. Might want to get that ignition coil checked out.

GM got the all clear after the NHTSA checked into cracked cooling fans on the GMT-560 series of trucks, which includes Chevrolet, GMC and Isuzu 4500 and 5000 models. NHTSA said it "remains concerned about the potential for injury," but basically couldn't find the "root cause" and that the number of complaints seems to be "small and diminishing."

Hmmm. Might want to get those fans checked, too.

Check out the full PR text below to read the NHTSA report on the Passat.
Show full PR text

Volkswagen Passat investigation

In July 2010, the Agency opened PE10-027 to investigate allegations of coil on plug (COP) ignition coil fires in MY2002-2003 VW Passat vehicles.

The investigation was upgraded in January 2011 to include all MY2001-2007 4-cylinder VW Passat, gasoline, turbo-charged vehicles.

Based on the analysis of VW's response, and including ODI's consumer complaints, ODI has since identified 135 unique engine fire reports attributable to the COP coils. After further review of the details as contained in each report, ODI determined that 43 of the 135 fire reports were actual fire/flame incidents, 83 fire reports were thermal events (smoke, spark, heat or wire melt), and another 9 fire reports were undetermined in severity due to the lack of information. These COP coil fires were characterized as initiated from within the COP coil circuit located at the top of the engine block and below the plastic engine cover.

The fires observed were contained in the engine compartment and did not reach into the passenger compartment in contrast to those caused by an overheated catalytic converter examined in ODI?s investigation in 2007 and 2008. There were no reports of crashes or personal injury in this examination.

A safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances.