Drivers reported that they experienced vibrations in the steering wheel, warning chimes and the illumination of warning lights on the dashboard.
"If this malfunction occurs, the driver's steering input is not properly processed by the system, and the vehicle may not respond as the driver intends," NHTSA said in its recall summary of the problem. "This defect can only occur immediately after vehicle start-up when the steering wheel is moved for the first time and at speeds less than 5 mph."
NHTSA notes that driver attempts to "overcome the system during malfunction" can cause vibrations in the steering wheel, the steering system motor to turn off, the red steering system malfunction indicator light to illuminate and audible warnings to chime. "A malfunctioning steering system could lead to a crash without warning," it said.
The recall will begin on 5th December. Volkswagen dealers will replace the steering gear in the affected vehicles.
No recall has been announced in the UK as yet, but owners of brand-new Passat and Passat CC models should be aware of the issue.