Thousands of South Africans will soon need to take their cars in for repairs, after a seatbelt lock malfunction was discovered by the German automaker, prompting the global safety recall of almost half-a-million affected Polos.

The technical issue relates to the potential for the left seatbelt lock to release unintentionally, posing a danger.

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“There’s the possibility that in rare situations like sudden quick lane changes with five passengers on board and when the rear centre seat and the rear left seat are occupied at the same time, the left seatbelt lock could be unintentionally released,” VW said in a statement.

Around 8 367 Polos have been sold in SA since its launch in January.

The Polo is one of the most popular cars in the country and older models of the car have been the second-best selling passenger car for the past seven years.

VW SA says owners of the affected model will be contacted “in due course”, with the recall campaign expected to get underway in the next few weeks.

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VW has, however, reassured motorists and passengers that the Polo is “legally homologated and safe to drive”, but does advise against making use of the middle seat until the car is refitted with a redesigned seatbelt lock fixture.

Polo owners can expect to receive a letter of appointment with a VW service provider, after which your car will be repaired free of charge.