The company said gas bubbles may form in the fuel system in the affected vehicles from model years 2009-14 when winterized fuel with high vapor pressures is used in warmer areas or during months with higher temperatures.
That could lead to reduced fuel pump performance and pressure, potentially resulting in vehicle stalling and could lead to an accident.
VW said no accident or injuries related to the issue have been reported.
Dealers will install revised electronic control module software on all affected vehicles at no cost. The recall is expected to begin later this month, a spokeswoman said.
Of the affected vehicles, 151,389 were sold in the United States and 38,101 in Canada, a spokeswoman said. No other markets are affected by the recall, she said.