VW Passat is equipped with an automatic emergency call system that provides quick help in the event of an accident. If you see SOS error in the instrument cluster of your Passat, it means you may not be able to make an emergency call.
Emergency Call Service malfunction
The red indicator light in the emergency call button comes on and remains on . The message “SOS Error: Emergency call function, service vehicle” may also be displayed in the instrument cluster of Passat. There is a system error with the Emergency Call Service. You may not be able to make an emergency call. It is recommended to contact an authorized Volkswagen dealer or authorized Volkswagen Service Facility immediately and have the fault rectified.
A known issue in VW vehicles
The SOS error is a well known issue in Volkswagen vehicles. According to The Guardian newspaper: “The Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda group has been accused of knowingly selling cars with defective SOS warning systems that in some cases failed before the new owner had left the dealership.”
The newspaper further states that: “But almost immediately after VAG Group introduced SOS systems in its cars in 2017, buyers of VWs, Skodas and Audis started reporting intermittent problems. Frustrated owners have described having to make repeated and often fruitless trips back to dealers, costing them time and fuel, and being without their cars for sometimes weeks at a time.” You can read the full article here.
How to clear the SOS warning light
To clear the SOS error message in VW Passat, press and hold the SOS button until the system starts making an emergency call and then release the button. You may have to hold the button for up to 60 seconds. Then immediately cancel the call by pressing and holding the SOS button again until the call is terminated or the indicator light remains green. If you fail to cancel the call in time, and the operator picks up the phone, just let them know that you’re trying to delete the SOS error message and there is no emergency. Keep in mind that this is a temporary fix and the warning light may appear again on the next engine startup.
Indicator light colors and what they mean
An indicator light for voice and data transmission services is located in the control panel on SOS button. The indicator light comes on in different colors and light patterns depending on the vehicle operating status of the Emergency Call Service.
- The indicator light does not light up: The vehicle is offline and has no connectivity.
- The red indicator light comes on and remains on: system error. The Emergency Call Service is limited or not available.
- The green indicator light lights up: Displays the availability of mobile radio signal. Does not display whether VW Car-Net® services have been purchased and are active, except for the Emergency Call Service.
- The indicator light blinks green: there is a call in progress.
VW Passat emergency call functions
With an information call, a call can be made to the VW Car-Net® call center for questions regarding VW Car-Net® services. The contact person will communicate in the language in which the vehicle was registered via VW Car-Net®.
Roadside assistance call
If you break down, you can contact an authorized Volkswagen dealer or authorized Volkswagen Service Facility for assistance with the roadside assistance call. Some vehicle data, e.g. its current location, is transferred in parallel to the voice call. The contact person will communicate in the language in which the vehicle was registered via VW Car-Net®.
Emergency Call Service
Using the Emergency Call Service, assistance can be organized as quickly as possible in dangerous situations. The Emergency Call Service is only available if a corresponding license is acquired. If the Emergency Call Service is triggered, a connection to the VW Car-Net® call center will be established. If an emergency call is triggered manually or by a collision with airbag deployment or safety belt pretensioner deployment, data that is relevant to the emergency call, such as the vehicle’s current location, is automatically transmitted. The contact partner will communicate in the language that is set in the vehicle’s Infotainment system. If this language is not available at the current emergency call location, English will be used.
Limitations of the SOS system
The following conditions may restrict or prevent a manual or automatic emergency call in your Passat:
- The emergency call location is in an area with no cell phone and satellite reception, or insufficient reception.
- You are in a location where there is sufficient mobile phone and satellite reception, but the telecommunications provider’s mobile communications network is unavailable.
- The Emergency Call Service is not permitted by law in some countries.
- VW Car-Net® has not been activated.
- No valid license for the use of the Emergency Call Service has been acquired or the license has expired.
- The vehicle components required for manual or automatic emergency calls are damaged or do not have sufficient power.
- The vehicle’s ignition is not switched on.
Triggering an emergency call manually
Briefly press on the button cover, if present, and fold the cover downward. Press the emergency call button until the green indicator light starts to flash. The emergency call is triggered and a voice connection to the VW Car-Net® call center is established.
If you pressed the emergency call button by mistake, cancel the emergency call immediately: Press the emergency call button again until the indicator light remains green.
Automatic emergency call
The automatic emergency call is only triggered when the ignition is on in Passat. A call will automatically be made to the VW Car-Net® call center immediately after the airbags or safety belt pretensioners deploy. The automatic emergency call cannot be stopped by pressing the emergency call button. If questions from the VW Car-Net® call center are not answered, rescue operations will automatically start.
The integrated battery ensures that the Emergency Call Service will still be available for some time if the 12 V vehicle battery in Passat is disconnected or faulty.
If the integrated battery is drained or faulty, a message indicating this will be displayed in the instrument cluster. If this message is shown, immediately consult an authorized Volkswagen dealer or authorized Volkswagen Service Facility and have the integrated battery replaced.
The available data will be sent to the VW Car-Net® call center during an emergency call to determine what rescue measures are needed.
The data regarding the location of the vehicle is continuously overwritten, so that only the ten most recent saved locations as required for the Emergency Call Service to function are available. The vehicle cannot be tracked on a continuous basis.
The emergency call data is only processed to ensure the proper function of the Emergency Call Service.
The following data will be sent:
- The current vehicle position at the time the emergency call was triggered
- Nine other vehicle positions shortly before the emergency call was triggered (from the route driven, a few km (around 2 miles)).
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Type of vehicle drive.
- Vehicle model
- Trigger type (automatic or manual)
- Call type.
- Direction in which the vehicle was moving at the time the emergency call was triggered.
- Accident severity.
- Accident direction.
- Time of impact
- Reliability of the positioning data
- Data set version.
- Counter of the data sets transmitted per call
- Calculated number of passengers.
- Language selected in the Infotainment system.
- Optional data ID.
The Emergency Call Service function may be limited by any after-market infotainment systems that are installed.