The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has asked Volkswagen of America to issue a safety-defect recall on 750,000 VW and Audi cars and trucks because of electrical-system problems.
VW this week announced a service recall rather than a safety recall, saying that it doesn't regard the problem as a safety hazard.
The recall covers various VW and Audi cars in the 1975 to 1980 model years that are equipped with fuel-injection gasoline engines. The defect is caused when an electrical connector works loose or fails because of corrosion, preventing the fuel pump from operating. VW is providing new connectors on all affected cars free of charge.
The NHTSA said that it has received 2,000 complaints from owners, some involving stalling during operation as well as failure to start. Motorists also have complained of smoke or fumes from overheated components due to electrical-system failures, the agency said. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries, the NHTSA said.
"After a substantial engineering analysis and review of data gathered during earlier VW safety recall campaigns, NHTSA had unsuccessfully urged VW to conduct a voluntary safety recall," the NHTSA said.
The agency said its safety-defect investigation is continuing to determine whether the agency should order a safety recall, which presumably would have a stronger impact on VW owners.
The models covered are all VW and Audi models except diesel-powered vehicles and Audi 5000 models, which have a different electrical system. Included in the recall are 1976-1980 Scirocco and Dasher models, 1977-1980 VW Rabbits, 1980 VW convertibles, pickup trucks and Jettas, 1975-1979 Audi Fox models and the 1980 Audi 4000.