The recall affects certain 2009-2012 Jetta midsize cars, and some 2010 through 2012 Golf small cars, as well as some Audi A3 models from the 2010 through 2012 model years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday on its website. All are equipped with 2-liter TDI diesel engines.
Cracks can develop in the fuel injection system and cause fuel to leak, possibly causing fires, VW said in documents filed with federal safety regulators.
However, the company said in the documents that it doesn't know of any fires, crashes or injuries caused by the problem.
Fuel injectors squirt fuel into the cylinder, where it is ignited. The resulting explosion pushes the pistons, which move to power the cars. On some of the VW diesels, a vibration given off by the injectors can cause stress that eventually can lead to cracks in the injector fuel lines, VW said.
Volkswagen will replace a fuel injector line in some models and install dampers to cut the vibrations on all of them. The repairs will be made free of charge. The recall is expected to start in November, NHTSA said.
The recall includes 161,144 Golf and Jetta models and another 7,131 Audi A3s.
The Jettas, including SportWagens, were made from May 2008 through September of 2011, while the Golfs were made from May of 2009 through September of 2011. The A3 models were made from September of 2009 through September of 2011.
About 20 percent of the cars built during those time periods will need to have fuel lines replaced, and all will the vehicles will get the vibration dampers, VW said.
More than 20 percent of the Volkswagens sold in the U.S. have diesel engines.