VW Headlights May Burn Out

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VW has enough problems in the U.S. It can barely give it cars away with “0% down, 0%” at signing. Research from firms which include J.D. Power and Consumer Reports do not tend to favor its models. Now, VW apparently has one more problem. Headlights on some of its cars may be apt to burn out, potentially leaving drivers on long dark roads, without illumination.

The NHTSA “SafeCar.gov” site gives specifics of the problems that drivers of VW cars have reported:

ODI has received 26 complaints alleging a partial or complete loss of the vehicle’s exterior lights. The reports suggest the problem worsens over time with additional exterior lighting malfunctioning as the problem progresses. Most of the complaints report finding an overheated and melted fuse in the under-hood fuse box. The overheated 30-amp fuse (number F16 or SB16) protects, among other things, several exterior lighting circuits.

Even if the problems turns out to be limited, it is the kind of public relations nightmare VW cannot afford. There have been several other large recalls around the industry in the last week, and, of course, another Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) car fire. But, Tesla’s cult like following and effusive praise of its cars by reviewers will likely allow it to get beyond the problem–if it does not happen again.

Recalls are routine in the car industry. Honda (NYSE: HMC) recently recalled 344,ooo Odyssey minivans for brake problems recently. Toyota (NYSE: TM) recalled about 870,000 Camrys, Venzas, and Avalons for airbag defects just a few days ago.

But, even in an industry in which there seems to be a recall a week, headlight which burn out are likely to put off the public more than most. The dark is frightening enough for most people. Driving 40 miles per hour in the dark is unimaginable.

VW, which needs the U.S. market to help its global ambitions to sell as many cars as GM (NYSE: GM) and Toyota do, has had one more setback in America, and it is a big one.