2018 Volkswagen Atlas Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Brakes, Electrical and Engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2018 Atlas is Volkswagen’s first attempt at a midsize, three-row SUV. And so far, the effort hasn’t gone well. Everywhere you look, owners speak of their brand-new vehicle being in the shop for months at a time. As a result, many consumers have complained of the poor reliability to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). The organization’s website lists the SUV’s main problem areas as the service brakes and electrical system (which in this case, are the same concern), and engine.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2021   2022

Don’t be stuck with a lemon. You have legal rights to cash, return or buyback.

The law makes VW pay legal fees.

We've fixed thousands of lemon problems. Message or call 877-795-3666 today.

Problems with the Brakes and Electrical System

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a safety feature found on many new vehicles. The technology uses sensors and onboard computers to detect an impending crash. If the driver does not respond to an emergency situation, the AEB system will bring the car to a stop without any assistance.

AEB is so important that some government officials are considering making it mandatory on all new cars. It’s clear, however, that those proponents have never ridden in a Volkswagen Atlas. The system on the SUV is riddled with problems, and there are countless complaints all over the internet.

On Edmunds.com, one owner writes, “My 2018 R-line Atlas will slam on the brake at times when it crosses a steel insert on a bridge. It thinks there is a car in front of it but there is not. The dealer told me there is no fix and turned the front crash avoidance system off. I was told if I would have read the manual before I got the car I would see that this my be a problem. Not a very smart statement. V W will not do anything about this so I will let everyone I know to stay away from V W.”

Another, on the NHTSA website, complains, “My autonomous braking system and pedestrian warning sensors are malfunctioning, making my car unsafe to drive. Since it’s purchase in 2018, the brakes have been locked up at least 10 times under normal braking conditions.”

Obviously, having your vehicle unexpectedly slam on its brakes is dangerous. Just imagine that happening on the freeway with a semi bearing down.

No matter the implications, Volkswagen has refused to issues a safety recall, at least so far. A brake recall has been issued, but it’s for a different concern: loose brake caliper brackets.

Hopefully, the sheer number of complaints will prompt VW to do something about the faulty AEB soon.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Brake and Electrical Problems:

I bought a VW Atlas 2018 expecting the front assist feature, whereby if the SUV detects an obstacle in its path, it will engage the brakes to stop the vehicle and avoid a collision. Unfortunately i am experiencing a situation where the feature could cause a collision.

I have had this car two months and it has now been in service twice. As of today they have had it for two weeks. The autonomous break system is way too sensitive and the car stops going down steep inclines or going over pot holes while in motion. The car has stopped in the middle of driving at least 7 times. I take it to service, they say there is no record in the cars computer of the incident. The front sensors are always beeping. I pull up to a stop sign, the sensors go off. I do a u-turn and the sensors go off. Some days way too excessively, some days not at all. It scares me to death and i slam on my brakes because i am afraid i am going to hit something. I take it to service, they say there is no record of it in the cars computer. Front end collision alert, i was driving down the road and was the only one on the road and the front end collision alert went off. I of course slam on the brakes in the middle of the road with no traffic, thank god no one was behind me. I take it to service, they say there is no record in the cars computer of it. Service has been able to recreate the issue with the front sensors, but says there is no fix. The customer care rep for VW stated today on the phone that they recognize there is an issue with the sensitivity of the autonomous breaking but has no fix for it so i will have to deal with it. I live in Houston, i will die if i hit a pot hole and stop. It’s unacceptable and a huge safety hazard. I am reading all over the internet about this issue with the autonomous braking problems. It should not be allowed to continue. Someone is going to die. I was able to video the issue with the sensors and VW has the video and recognizes a problem but states that’s just the way the car is going to work. States they see the issue there too, but there is no fix.

2018 Atlas SEL, equipped with autonomous breaking to “prevent” collisions. When vehicles travel down an incline like a driveway, the emergency breaking feature will unexpectedly engaged, causing the vehicle to come to a complete and sudden stop. When this occurs, i have no control over the continued movement of the vehicle. I am required to change gears and/or restart the vehicle in order to move the vehicle again. This poses a extreme safety issue as the vehicle will shut down when you are attempting to pull out of a private drive and on to a active roadway, increasing the risk of a side on vehicle collision. Issue was reported to VW service department. Service manager was able to duplicate the issue. Service manager also tested another vw atlas on the sale lot with the same feature. Strive manager reported that the same issue occurred with the other atlas as well. Service department was unable to correct the issue, reporting the vehicle is “operating as designed.” issue was reported to Volkswagen. After a three week period, Volkswagen reported that they were declining to take further action on the issue, stating the vehicle was ‘operating as designed.” this issue poses a major safety issue no only to the driver and occupants of the vehicle, but to other motorists on the road. Volkswagen has been given notice of the issue and refuses to acknowledge of take action.

Problems with the Engine

Volkswagen has never been known for good engines or powertrain control systems. Remember the class action lawsuit over the automaker’s defective timing chains? Or, how about the diesel issue, where the company illegally tampered with its vehicles to pass emission standards?

The Atlas is the latest addition to a long lineup of automotive losers. One of the SUV’s key features is its automatic start/stop system, which is designed to shut off the engine at rest to save gas. Operation seems simple enough – when the vehicle comes to a stop, fuel and spark are cut to halt engine operation. When the driver takes their foot off the brake, the starter cranks automatically and re-fires the SUV.

Auto stop/start sounds like an excellent concept, and it is. Volkswagen was the first to debut the technology in 1983 on the Polo Formel E, sold in Europe. Yet somehow, the system on the Atlas is full of problems. On the SUV, the technology is known to turn off unexpectedly and not restart after a stop.

On Edmunds.com, one owner writes, “We test drove nine SUV’s and did a lot of research before choosing the Atlas. It seemed to be the superior choice but we soon learned all that glitters isn’t gold. It has proven to be unreliable and unsafe. It has shut-off the engine three times while it has been in motion, fortunately at slow speed. The most recent scary experience occurred when the auto stop/start shut of the engine then failed to restart when the brake was released. It had to be put in park and manually restarted. It spent a week in the dealership repair shop for what was supposed to be a four hour job. The entertainment system spontaneously turns itself on and the rear climate control frequently turns itself off. I recently learned from VW Customer Service that the vehicle has nine recalls but I have only received notification of four. It is sad that Volkswagen has bungled this vehicle. After reading some of the other reviews, we have been relatively fortunate. I strongly advise choosing a different vehicle and to avoid purchasing an Atlas or any Volkswagen.”

You would think, with engines stalling out of nowhere, Volkswagen would recall the Atlas. But no, the automaker continues to gamble with the safety of its customers by leaving the SUV on the road.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Engine Problems:

Auto stop sensor my atlas just have 1000 miles and it has started with problems

2nd attempt at repairing oil leak occurring from engine bay located around oil filter housing on left side of engine. Was not properly torqued from factory on first occurrence housing could be turned with a wrench. The second occurrence took 2 month after oil change to show same symptoms. This occurs under all conditions and vehicle rarely sees dirt roads.

Excessive oil consumption. Used 1 and 1/2 quarts of oil at 3250 miles(which was added by the dealer service dept. Today 1/2/18) was bought as a new vehicle 9/17 with only 12 miles on odometer.(12/25/17) first the check engine light lit, they said it was the gas cap.one week later the check oil level alarm lit . They checked it said no external leaks, they added the 1 1/2 quart oil , said to keep an eye on the level. I am scared to take this car on any trips with this car. Also the coolant level was at the minimum level, the service open the cap and the level did rise, but why is that?

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes VW pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Who are we? We are Lemberg Law, a Consumer Law Firm

Lemberg Law is a consumer law firm helping victims of bad manufacturing and run-arounds from auto companies. We are ranked A+ by the BBB. Call our Helpline today!  There is no charge unless we win.


Share your story

Does this ring a bell? Have you had a bad experience too? Sound off and share your experience with other visitors in the comment box below.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Erica u

    Brought my 2018 in July 2019 certified pre-owned but it is a lemon for sure…

    Now my car doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of being upgraded but I Didn’t expect what was to come to be a natural nightmare. All my problems stated below….

    While driving the car car kept telling me my door was opened but only while on the highway doing above 50 it just kept going on and off. I kept pulling over opening and closing each door still kept doing it. I would put it in gear and the car wouldn’t move like it should. Took it to the dealership and they said I needed the gearshift replaced. They fixed it. But broke one thing else while trying to replace it which had my car there 2 weeks.

    Took it for the annual inspection and there was movement in the wheel bearing. That means that the wheel can fall off while driving. Things like this happens when you have at least 150k miles and hit numerous potholes over time. Mines happened at 17000 miles.

    Then came the electrical issues that cause the car to accelerate or brake right. This twice in 6 months.

    And that bring me to driving down I95 and my car just stopped moving in the middle lane stuck. With no shoulder to go to because the car wouldn’t move. Lost my passenger mirror, almost cause a pileup, backed up traffic for miles stuck till penndot can on the highway to tow me off. Mine you the car turned on and off, went into gear but Didn’t and wouldn’t move in any direction. So at 38000 the car needs a new transmission.


  • Kristine L

    I bought a 2018 VW Atlas in 2018 and have had issues with it since. I have taken the car into two different dealerships and have put in 3 separate cases through VW Customer Care. My car has slammed on brakes in the middle of the road on more than one occasion. My car gets stuck in gear, revs up to 5000-5500 RPMs until I let off of the accelerator and let the car slow on its own, then it kicks back into gear and the RPMs lower. The lane assistance has taken over and jerked me into another lane thinking there was a car next to us. Last year I went to the store, put my groceries in the back, put my kids in the car and made sure they were buckled in their car seats, left my purse with keys in it in the front seat of the vehicle, shut the door, and took the cart back. When I got back to the car, my car locked me out with my kids in the car. Thank goodness I was able to get my 5 year old to unlock the door. I called VW regional support manager and never heard anything back. I called customer care and was on the phone for over 2 hours on hold before finally hanging up the phone. Just today, our car’s throttle got stuck, car revved up to 5500 RPMs, took our vehicle to 90 mph before my husband had to shut the vehicle off and then back on again in the middle of the highway. I just don’t know what to do. I want to sell the car, but believe it’s unethical especially with all the safety issues. What can I do?

  • Zachary K

    Have our 2018 atlas for a year now. Got it with 59 miles on the suv. Just over Thanksgiving weekend Heard a clicking noise coming from under hood. No check engine light, no warnings. Had it towed to dealer. They called and reported that the entire engine and turbo needed to be replaced. How in the world does a 2018 atlas need a complete engine and turbo replaced with no real answer as to what caused this issue. May need help.

  • Eddy

    So much issue that I have. here is listed up all issue.

    1. alignment issue. I had to visit service department many times to
    correct it. – they checked alignment and said “operate as designed”. VW service didn’t agree but still push me right side…. .
    2. Driver seat moving when I make a stop. VW changed whole seat
    module. – cleared.
    3. Noise from front wheel. VW changed some part (may be, not sure).
    temporally cleared.
    4. Noise from front strat(Shock absorber). VW changed some part but
    still has it. I can hear this noise intermittently.
    5. Windows noise under hot temp condition. it has been driving me craze. every
    summer time this noise came up. VW service department simply said it
    is caused by dirt or sap from out side.. they said don’t park under
    the tree outside. I cannot believe this. this is for outdoor vehicle
    not indoor only.
    6. these day I also saw sometimes trunk door is not smoothly closed.
    it is kind of slam the door. not serious but this is different from as it
    was. I’m just worry it get worse in the future.
    7.Indicate right fall off. assembly issue. there is tiny (White)glass in the side mirror. it was missing.

    VW quality is worst ever.

  • Lisa G

    I will add to the above fraudulent mileage statements posted on the sales sticker by Volkswagen. I am receiving 14 mpg after taking my car in to have the blind spot system error checked. My fuel consumption is way up and suspect they preformed some software adjustment to now reflect the true mileage. Compensation for another breech of trust from this company needs to be addresses

  • Chanel A

    Way to many recalls on my 2018 VW Atlas – breaks change in less than a year and emission as well, check engine light turned twice already in a year. I love the car just want to stop having to take it for a check-up

  • Erik

    several issues on my 2019 VW atlas, so far 2 attempts to fix and 14 days out in the shop.. Car has 4200 miles.
    1. wiper fluid goes on only after wipers go over dry windshield once. used to be 3 times so service did improve but did not fix the issue. this will eventually damage the wipers and /or windshield
    2. gurgling engine noise – dealer not able to replicate
    3. paint pealing off from rear door handles.
    4. unfinished/defective trim/liner above front windshield – horrible look.
    5. car not starting after pushing button. starts after 20 or so tries. Happened twice so far. Dealer was not able to replicate…

  • Steve

    My 2018 VW Atlas SEL will slam the brakes on when going out of a driveway! It see’s the crown of the road and it thinks it’s going to hit something. It is dangerous because it is sporadic, it may and may not slam the brakes on, which is dangerous because you never know when it will do it! I have pulled out and a car was coming up and my brakes activated and they slam on to a stop so now I was in the middle of the street and with no control of the situation. There wasn’t a accident because the other car slowed down fast enough that they didn’t hit me . When you look at the vehicle look at how low the sensors are in the front grill and facia sides and this is why they activate so often. I took it in to VW and they would not do anything because the sensors were within the VW spec’s.

  • Barry C

    My name is Barry Cohen and I am a 4 time volkswagen owner. I now own a used to be one time flashed 2015 Volkswagen Sportwagen TDI that I loved to drive. I was sent a recall letter telling me that I had to bring in my car for a level 2 emissions computer flash. I brought it to Schumacher Volkswagen in West Palm Beach Florida. I told the service manager David Rodes that if it was going to lower my then over 45 MPG’s any more after the first flash when the car was new and getting 55 plus MPG’s I absolutely no way wanted to have the level 2 Flash to be done.

    David Rodes the Schumacher Volkswagen service manager told me to my face that without question the level 2 flash would not affect my fuel mileage! He said “in fact it could increase it.” David Rodes also told me that if I didn’t have my car emissions computer flashed for the second time my cars extended warranty would be voided! Also nowhere in the Volkswagen recall letter did it state or imply that this level 2 flash would affect my cars fuel mileage as it did. I had no other choice but to take the word of the service manager of Schumacher Volkswagen for this information.

    Like an idiot I allowed him to do the level 2 flash trying to do the right thing only to discover that I now lost an additional 11 miles per gallon on the highway at 34 MPG! When new, these TDI’s get 55 plus miles per gallon and the people at Volkswagen are well aware of this fact! The dealership is now telling me that there is nothing I can do because this crappy fuel mileage falls within Volkswagen’s EPA accepted mileage!

    I was not ever told about this crappy EPA standard as well! My message response to Volkswagen is that this additional 11 mile loss per gallon in my fuel mileage is totally unacceptable and if they do not unflash my car or buy back my car I will spend the majority of my time helping multiple law firms serve Volkswagen North America with another class action lawsuit for people that have had the same level 2 emissions flash experience as I am now going through. I am also thinking about litigating Schumacher Volkswagen in West Palm Beach for fraud and for the threat by their service manager David Rodes to void my warranty if I did not allow them to flash my emissions computer again! I have already had a personal conference with Morgan & Morgan a law firm that has already litigated Volkswagen for their misdeeds multiple times with great success.

    Also I will spread this accurate and true experience all over the internet non-stop to enlighten other Volkswagen owners to this new and damaging situation that have and will continue to ruin the fuel milage of so many more Volkswagen TDI diesel cars! I now hate driving My TDI Sportwagen and at this point I will never support or buy another Volkswagen again! All I want from Volkswagen is to have them do the right thing to settle my situation! Since Volkswagen refuses to undo and remove the damage they caused to my car, I now want them to buy back my car so I can purchase another diesel powered car that gets better fuel mileage!

  • Conn

    My 2018 VW Atlas has slammed the brakes on me as a semi passed on the left. The semi’s shadow created an very dangerous incident on a very crowded highway, luckily no one got rear ended. My Atlas has shut off on me four times while in motion and I’ve had my children in the car. HUGE SAFETY ISSUE! People had to swerve around us while I tried to reset the system to get it going again. I took it in for these two issues and they could not duplicate the issue and the computer showed the technicians nothing. Go figure. I have a lawyer now and I have been telling everyone to avoid this nightmare. My Atlas now sits in my driveway untouched because no one feels safe driving it. Dang money pit! VW has lost how to take care of their customers. Never will I ever buy a VW again nor will I let even my worst enemy buy one.

  • Sharon M

    I have a 2019 VWTiguan which I took delivery on in January 2019 .
    My front brake assist light goes off and on ( with noise) more times than I can count .
    When my Tiguan did actually use the front assist , the stopping of the vehicle was horrible . It abruptly stopped and made this horrible noise . My grandson who is 7 came a little loose out of his seat belt . Enough that he went forward and back . This brake assist has gone off twice , making that horrific noise . It also steers the vehicle to the right .
    Then there is my rear alert . In which the dealership is calling rear assist . I heard it go off once . Hmm I have no idea why . There was nothing in my driveway for it to trigger . The stop/start button started going off and on . A few times the car would feel like it was going to stall ,but it never has .
    My car has been to the dealership twice since I got it . Each time they say “ the computer says it’s fine and has no record of these issues .
    A customer advocate is involved attempting to buy back my Tiguan pending his report .
    My car has been parked in my driveway since I got home . I am reluctant to drive it

  • Seth V

    Volkswagen brought mine back as a lemon, I’ve had 3 Audi’s and NEVER had as many issues as the Atlas. Under 10,000 miles and it was deemed as a lemon! After the first oil change everything went down hill, do your research and homework before purchasing an Atlas!!!

  • Danny

    I have a 2018 Atlas Premium I was pulling out of a business complex into a busy road and the atlas stopped dead in its place. I was sticking out into the road. I feel like this is an extreme safety concern.
    The other major safety issue is the atlas can be shut off accidentally while the car is in drive moving down the road. This happened when I accidentally pushed the off button rather than the driving mode knob. This is very scary. The car was in drive and luckily I was in a Naibor hood when the car jolted before starting to roll forward with no power steering! Potentially no braking power!!!

  • Jan A

    This is the second 2018 Atlas I have had. The first one was in the shop about six times for the same problem. It was air conditioner problem. Volkswagen helped out about 5000 dollars but made me get another Atlas. Now this one has about 5000 mile and has a head gasket problem..been in the shop 3 days already and they say it will be in there another 6 days. I am afraid the engine is messed up and I don’t want to keep the car. What do I do??

  • Abu T

    My Car
    2018 Volkswagen Atlas, V6 SE with Tech. and 4MOTION 3.6 L
    EPA MPG (Monroney sticker or window sticker)
    City MPG: 17, Highway MPG: 23, combined MPG 19 (City/Highway)
    Estimated consumption 5.3 gals/100 miles

    Actual MPG I am getting
    240/17 = 14.1 (every time I put about 17+ gallon of gas and this is the mileage I get every time)
    One time I have to refuel 232 that means I am getting 232/17= 13.6
    Last time (before I took it to Service center) we push to drive up to 254 car didn’t start, so we have put gas by gas cans then we able to start the car and take to the gas station for refuel.
    This MPG not even close to fuel economy rate for the car. When I fill up the tank by about 17 gallon, the car console display show I will get about 325 mile from fuel I have in the tank. That information dose not match with the mileage I am getting.
    I told this issue to my service consultant (Rodney Young) he said that display number and actual number will not match and those number in not relevant. Then service center technician check the by driving around three times they come with three different MPG number , I ask them how he come up with this number he said that he read out from car console display. When service consultant (Rodney Young) said those is not actual & not relevant, then why the technician give the MPG number to make me believe that car get higher MPG than I am calculating. Event though those number is not meeting the car MPG ratting.
    Service consultant (Rodney Young) also says as manufacture make car some car will get stander fuel mileage some car will not because the car have some issue with that. If your car get that millage that means the car have some issue, but I dint know the issue I am not able to fix it until check engine light came on. There is nothing to do any adjustment to get better fuel mileage.
    I am totally u happy with the car MPG. I am wasting equivalent of about 3 gallon gas millage, beaten of every refueling, that’s lot of money I will have to pay over the years. Somebody has to accountable for this. I need proper action for this matter because I am felling some was lying about this MPG that cause me money and mental headache.

Leave a Reply or Comment

Write a comment below to share online. Or, instead you can to our legal team.

Please select your star rating.

Briefly describe your experience Briefly describe your experience

What’s your name? What’s your name?

What’s your phone number? Please enter a valid phone number

Want to know if you could sue? Get a free legal evaluation Lemberg Law?

Get Your No-Obligation
Case Evaluation

Send a secure message to our legal team.

What’s your name? What’s your name?
What’s your email address? What’s your email address?
What’s your phone number? What’s your phone number?
Briefly describe the problem Briefly describe the problem
Confidentiality Guarantee: We keep your information completely confidential and will not send you spam or sell your information.