DETROIT, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG is more than doubling a three-year-old U.S. recall of its Chrysler-built Routan minivans that have ignition switches that can be knocked into the accessory position and shut off the engine, according to documents filed with U.S. safety regulators.
VW is recalling about 18,529 Routan minivans from model year 2009, adding to the 2010 models it recalled in 2011 for the same issue and bringing the total number of vehicles affected in the United States to about 31,270 vehicles, according to the documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
VW officials could not immediately be reached on Friday to determine if vehicles outside the United States were affected.
The automaker expanded the recall after Chrysler in late June sent documents for a recall of its own minivans for the issue, saying 2009 Routan models were affected as well, according to the NHTSA documents. In June, Chrysler, a unit of Fiat, added almost 696,000 minivans from model years 2008 and 2009 to a recall of 2010 models for the ignition switch issue.
Attention to the issue of ignition switches that can be inadvertently turned off while driving, causing the loss of air bags, power steering and power brakes, increased after General Motors Co recalled 2.6 million cars because of a defective ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths.
The crisis at the No. 1 U.S. automaker has led to numerous investigations by NHTSA, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general.
Like other automakers who have dealt with this safety issue, VW is advising customers with the recalled vehicles to remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key, according to the NHTSA documents.
Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will modify the ignition switch at no cost, according to the NHTSA documents. The recall is expected to begin this month. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Paul Simao)