Cherry Hill, N.J. – Nov. 1, 2017 – Subaru of America has recalled more than 9,100 vehicles possibly equipped with defective audio equipment, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2015 Subaru WRX performance sedans with production dates ranging from Jan. 17, 2014 to April 9, 2015. Subaru suspects 100 percent of the vehicles referenced in the action contain the defective equipment.
The affected sedans likely feature factory-installed subwoofers positioned so that they abut luggage stowed in the trunk. This contact can loosen the subwoofer’s wiring, causing complete disconnection. Should these charged fixtures meet the metal frame of the subwoofer, an intermittent short may occur and damage to integrated circuit components. In some cases, the broken IC parts can generate constant electrical current, leading the subwoofer to overheat and increasing the likelihood of a fire. This poses an obvious safety threat to occupants.
Owners with vehicles containing the defective equipment have reported hearing crackling noises. Subaru suggested turning off the car audio system to silence these sounds.
Timeline of Events
In January 2017, Subaru received a field report detailing an instance of subwoofer overheating in a 2015 WRX performance sedan. Two months later, quality assurance personnel at the automaker took possession of the subwoofer and amplifier from the vehicle named in the report. In April, the Japanese automaker shipped the parts to the supplier, Harman International Industries, for analysis. On April 28, Harman submitted its findings. Engineers at the audio company had discovered that the IC features in the subwoofer sustained damage due to overstress. They also found that an electrical short had occurred when the subwoofer wire made contact with the metal support frame. However, Harman could not identify the root cause of the short. As a result, Subaru launched its own investigation to better understand the origin of this electrical disturbance.
In May 2017, Subaru received another field report from a dealer in Australia. Again, the company requested and received the parts involved for evaluation. Four months passed before engineers at the company uncovered the root cause: contact between the subwoofer and luggage. On Sept. 29, Subaru decided to conduct a safety recall. The organization notified dealers Oct. 9.
The automaker has directed dealers to inspect the subwoofer wires and install wire retainer clips in affected vehicles free of charge, according to a recall acknowledgment document from the NHTSA. In some cases, dealers may replace the subwoofers altogether, a repair that Subaru has also pledged to subsidize. Owners should have received notification Oct. 31 via first-class mail. Those that did not can contact Subaru customer service personnel at (800) 782-2783. Callers should use the internal recall identification code WTQ-76. Owners in need of further assistance or information can also contact the NHTSA using its vehicle safety hotline at (888) 327-4236.