Subaru Addresses Potential Engine Fires

Subaru is recalling several vehicle models in the U.S. due to engine problems that have the potential to cause fires. The defect was the result of an inappropriate manufacturing process, according to documents compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Defect

Subaru is recalling 100,127 Foresters from 2009-2013, Legacy and Outback models from 2007-2009 and WRX and STI models from 2008-2014. All models are equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The problem is that a faulty relay in these engines can cause the secondary air injection pump to fail. The pump may then end up working constantly, possibly overheating and melting and then igniting. Subaru believes that the check engine light would be lit if this had a chance of occurring in an affected vehicle.

Timeline

April 25, 2011: Fuji Heavy Industries, Inc. learned of a secondary air injection pump failure that caused the check engine light to go off, but did not result in fire. Fuji investigated and found that the relay associated with the pump had insufficient contact point pressure.

Oct. 10, 2013: Fuji learned of another secondary air injection pump catching fire, but could not investigate it properly.

May 8, 2015: Fuji was able to investigate a separate fire report and determined the cause.

Sept. 30, 2016: Fuji advised Subaru that it would have to conduct a recall of all affected vehicles in the United States.

Proposed Remedy

Subaru dealers will replace the affected secondary air injection pump with a countermeasured replacement pump. This will be done free of charge for all owners.

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Steering Column Shaft Problems Prompt New Subaru Recalls

Cherry Hill, NJ — June 16, 2016 — A new Subaru recall effort will address 48,500 potentially compromised vehicles. Drivers in Subaru Legacy or Outback models from either the 2016 or 2017 model years may be in danger of crashing due to sudden steering loss.

As a recall acknowledgment document filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted, this issue comes from steering columns that don’t properly connect the steering apparatus to the wheels.

The only component listed in this statement is the column, which was reportedly machined incorrectly during manufacturing. The Safety Recall Report, also available through the NHTSA, lists the production dates for each of the affected models: They range from Feb. 9 to May 6, 2016. This condition could mean that the wrong tool setting was used on the column when it was in manufacturing.

The recall timeline
According to the NHTSA documents, this recall has a relatively short history, with the first customer-related steering issue reported May 3. Further inspections followed on May 5, with the official safety recall determination coming just four days later.

May 9 was listed as the dealer notification date, and as of this writing, no planned owner notification date is given on the amended report dated for May 12. The recall will also include a stop sale for any of the affected Subaru vehicles in the U.S. market.

Because of the manufacturer’s fast response, it has already spurred changes to prevent this issue from hindering future vehicles. New screening practices went into use May 6. To address the potentially dangerous vehicles already in use, the report suggests dealers look at steering column lot numbers before deciding whether the entire column needs to be replaced.

Unlike the faulty shafts, replacement parts are correctly machined and will comply with the intended specifications. The column comes from supplier NSK Steering Systems America, based in Michigan.

All of the affected models are classified as “light vehicles” with a gas power train. While the 2017 Subaru Legacy has a 4-door body style, all of the other models are SUVs. The updated safety recall report lists the 2015 Subaru Outback as well, stating that it may have a defective steering column due to a previous service repair. Vehicle Identification Numbers are not included in this report.

A previous action
Some of the models in this notice were subject to other recent Subaru recalls. Last November, the 2016 Legacy and Outback vehicles were involved in a different action that also resulted from incorrect manufacturing practices.

As the recall report for that case noted, the drive shafts in 3,251 potential units could detach, since the fastening nuts were not properly tightened. This could lead to a fire hazard, since the unmoored drive shafts could hit the vehicle’s fuel tank and cause a leak.

Once again, improper tool use during manufacturing was at fault, since the loose nuts were not torqued correctly during the initial production. For the vehicle to pose a true fire hazard, however, the discharged fuel would have to come into contact with a source of ignition that would spark it into a flame.

This was another case of a fast-acting recall, since the announcement came just three days after Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. discovered the issue, with dealer notification then scheduled for the same day.

Though the remedy mentioned possible replacement nuts and bolts, it also said that dealers could solve the issue by simply tightening these existing parts. A repair procedure document from the manufacturer stated that both the affected Outback and Legacy vehicle models began production on October 24, 2015. 

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Subaru Vehicles from 2015 and 2016 Could Suddenly Stall

Cherry Hill, NJ — April 15, 2016 — Both Subaru Forester and WRX vehicles are part of a recent recall action. According to an official report, the automaker believes some of these units with the 2015 and 2016 model years were assembled with the wrong material in the “turbocharger air intake duct.” As a result, the company is recalling 18,200 vehicles which may contain components from the DaikyoNishikawa Corporation. A crack in this duct could possibly stall the vehicle.

The source traced the first report of a related stall to December 2015. Though this problem could lead to a sudden, unexpected loss of power, there are some possible warnings: drivers may want to look for the “Check Engine” light, as well as indicators of lower engine power or a “rough idle.”

As the report further described, the parts causing the recall contain a specific lot number that factors into the planned remedy.

“Subaru will inspect the lot number molded on the engine turbocharger air intake duct to determine if it was produced with incorrect material,” the source said. “If a specific lot number is found, the duct will be replaced. If a different lot number is found, replacement is not necessary.”

A press release from the company republished in Autoblog stated that there was no official recall schedule released as of March 21. However, the March 17 Part 573 report claimed that the planned dealer recall date was March 21.

In a separate repair procedure document, the same company noted that only some of the vehicles in the Subaru recalls will require a full replacement. Specifically, the repair order only applies to ducts produced in April 2015. Those that were built on this date will require three separate parts: the air intake duct, gasket and O ring.

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Hood Latches in Subaru Recalls Could Fail

Cherry Hill, NJ — February 18, 2016 — A new Subaru recall meant to address problems with hood latches includes vehicles with the model years between . A Recall Acknowledgement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that affected vehicles could include hoods that might accidentally open without warning.

The recall population contains a total of 77,000 Subaru Tribeca light vehicles, with manufacture dates ranging from 2004 to 2014 . As the official Part 573 Recall Report notes, this single recall actually centers around two possible causes, both of which could compromise the hood.

This is due to malfunctioning front hood safety and lock assemblies, both manufactured by Johnan America, Inc. The former system could cause a hook to seize up over time and cease functioning correctly: the latter may rust and leave the hood unlocked. Both of these problems have to occur simultaneously to cause an issue. Earlier this year, Subaru became aware of a lawsuit involving a 2006 vehicle in which the hood opened suddenly during use.

In a message to dealers, the manufacturer described the two-phase remedy process, which won’t be possible until the countermeasure parts are available “later this year.” Phase one will consist of an inspection and “interim repair.”

“Retailers will inspect, clean and lubricate the hood safety system and hood lock system,” the message reads. “After this is performed, they will check for proper operation. If it does not work properly, the hood safety system will be replaced with the current style part.”

This February 2 document also announced that owners would be informed within 60 days, with retailers notified as the Subaru recalls continue.

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Honda, Subaru Models Added to Takata Recall

Washington, DC — January 19, 2016 — Honda’s involvement in the Takata airbag inflator recalls has been notable, considering the related fatalities in Honda vehicles. Late last month, the manufacturer announced that it would recall 127,000 CR-V’s with 2003 and 2004 model years, as Car and Driver reports. That month also saw the manufacturer submit a recall amendment to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which named both 2WD and 4WD models as part of the action.

Throughout 2015, the NHTSA has posted updates to efforts related to passenger side front airbag Honda recalls. CR-V’s were included among the nine models mentioned in the first recall, originally noted this past June. The amendment states that owner notification is believed to be completed by January 29.

The NHTSA also noted progress in the existing Takata airbag recall efforts

On December 23, the agency also noted progress in the existing Takata airbag recall efforts. In addition to the Honda CR-V’s, the updates to the recall include Mazda 6 vehicles from between 2005 and 2008, and Subaru Legacy and Outback vehicles from the same model year period. It also appointed law firm partner John Buretta as an assistant in monitoring Takata’s further activities as the recall process continues.

“The expansions are the result of Takata ballistic testing conducted over recent months,” the statement reads. “Consumers are urged to check their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for open recalls and to contact their local dealer to schedule repairs.”

This statement also referenced nine total fatalities connected to the defect worldwide, with the most recent in a 2001 vehicle operated in a humid region. Previous reports on the recall have noted how humidity and high heat can make inflators more likely to rupture.

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New Subaru Vehicles Recalled for Driveshaft Concerns

Cherry Hill, NJ — December 23, 2015 — A new set of Subaru recalls pertains specifically to vehicles produced this year, as recent as November 16, 2015. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledged an action that targets both Legacy and Outback models, reported as of November 20. According to the official Safety Recall Report, the propeller shaft nuts can come loose, perhaps leading to a sudden risk of fire damage inside the vehicle.

This problem was first discovered on November 17, when Subaru of Indiana Automotive discovered that the torque was improperly fastened. Three days later, an official decision to launch the recall was made. A total of 3,251 vehicles are included in this recall, with the action originally scheduled for December 10, under the number WQV-57. Subaru dealers will tighten the loose nuts if necessary.

“If the propeller shaft detaches from the differential, the shaft could strike the fuel tank resulting in a possible fuel leak,” the report said. “There is a risk of fire if leaking fuel were to come in contact with an ignition source. This could happen without prior warning.”

As the official repair procedure describes, some dealers might not require extra parts at all to repair this condition. Bolts, nuts and washers must be replaced in the defective units, but only if nuts are found to be “finger-tight.”

Dealers are advised to be gentle and avoid damaging the dust cover on the differential seal, since a replacement might be required if the seal is broken. Those doing the installation can make sure the nuts, bolts and washers all line up by checking for telltale flange and yoke paint lines.

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Subaru recalls vehicles for transmission leaks

Washington, D.C. — August 26, 2015 — More than 2,890 vehicles may be affected by a seal cap issue that would leave occupants at risk of fire. As such, Subaru of America, Inc., has issued a recall beginning this month that includes the propeller shaft replacement measures that dealers can take to target this defect.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall acknowledgment document, two different Subaru models are involved in this action: the Subaru Legacy 4-Door and Subaru Outback. Both of these have the model years of 2015 and 2016, and both started production on the same date, July 3, 2015. The Legacy vehicles ended production on July 25, while production on the Outback ended two days later on the 27th.

The NHTSA also features a six-page instruction document for dealers on how to conduct the proper repairs in affected vehicles. This requires several parts, the source states, including a gasket filler plug and self-locking nut. 

"During assembly of the front slip yoke component of the propeller shaft, the sealing cap may have become deformed resulting in the possibility of a transmission fluid leak," it reads. "Fluid leaking from the deformed sealing cap may leak onto the exhaust system. Because none of the propeller shaft components are serviceable, the assembly must be replaced." The document goes on to advise inspection of the new propeller shaft for cracks or other defaults before repairs commence.

In addition, retailers have also been informed of the "STOP SALE" order now in place intended to prevent vehicles from being delivered without being properly identified, marked and repaired.

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Subaru recalls thousands of vehicles for airbag sensor issue

Detroit, MI — July 27, 2015 — Although there have been many reports of issues with airbag deployment systems themselves, several thousand Subaru Imprezas have suffered from a defect outside the airbag itself that makes it difficult to activate the airbags when they are needed. Sensors in these vehicles are overly sensitive and liable to be shut off during unexpected and seemingly benign situations.

Fortunately, the defect doesn’t come completely without warning signs. Top Speed’s Jonathan Lopez reports that an airbag warning light will appear on the dashboard if the sensor has been compromised. Affected Imprezas were built between 2011 and 2012, and featured poor calibration, making the vehicle sensors unable to respond in different conditions.

The manufacturer has, at the urging of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) begun contacting owners. While no injuries have been connected to this issue, the company has received 26 different complaints related to it.

Lopez describes some of the ways that the sensor might be accidentally deactivated during the drive.

“These conditions include a passenger touching an electrically grounded part of the car (like the metal seat adjuster), using an electronic device (like a phone) plugged into the accessory power outlet, or sitting with damp clothes,” he said. “It’s also reported that a cell phone left on the seat or a splash of water on the seat could trigger the failure.” He notes that this is a comparatively minor recall, especially considering the much-publicized Takata efforts.

Coupled with other measures for addressing recalls, the right marketing systems will generate a high level of engagement through accurate and comprehensive statements.

Recall MastersSubaru recalls thousands of vehicles for airbag sensor issue

New Subaru recall targets Driver Assist System

Tokyo, Japan — June 29, 2015 — According to a document from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Subaru of America is recalling 72,000 vehicles as part of campaign to correct an automatic braking system failure that could leave drivers at greater risk of damage during a sudden stop. Though affected cars will still have a functioning warning indicator to signal to drivers, they could still be vulnerable to a crash due to a failure of the pre-collision brakes.

As the NHTSA letter describes, the recall pertains to four specific brands from model year 2015 and one for 2016: the Impreza, Legacy, Outback, WRX and XV Crosstrek. The flaw can be corrected through a software update: according to USA Today, manufacturer representative Dominick Infante called the solution “really an easy fix.”

The Eyesight Driver Assist System is the official name of the unit that this recall concerns. The letter elaborates on some of the conditions that will trigger the dangerous action.
“If the switch that activates the brake lights fails, the automatic pre-collision braking component of the driver assist system will not function,” the source states. “If the automatic pre-collision braking system does not function as intended, the vehicle will not react to an obstacle in its path, increasing the risk of a crash.”

Even though a major recall-worthy action may be traced back to a simple software repair, the necessary actions for fixing the problem need to be corrected and taken as seriously as any other possible fault. Conducting a professional-level recall will take the proper message to the dealers and owners alike, making it less likely that the necessary actions will be confused.

Recall MastersNew Subaru recall targets Driver Assist System