Mitsubishi recalls vehicles with defective drive belt components

Cypress, Calif. – Feb. 13, 2018 – Mitsubishi Motors North America has recalled more than 141,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective drive belt components, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects multiple models, including:

  • 2009-2012 Mitsubishi Lancer sedans produced between March 20, 2008, and Nov. 17, 2011.
  • 2010-2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback sedans produced between June 17, 2009, and Nov. 15, 2011.
  • 2008-2012 Mitsubishi Outlander sport utility vehicles produced between June 25, 2008, and Nov. 16, 2011.
  • 2011-2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SUVs produced between Aug. 26, 2010, and Dec. 15, 2011.

The Japanese automaker suspects all the vehicles referenced in the recall contain the defective features.

The Defect

The models included in the safety action could contain drive belt automatic tensioners whose flanges are prone to cracking. Such an event could lead to complete drive belt detachment, resulting in the immediate termination of engine and power steering operations, and increasing the likelihood of an accident. As a result, the defective part poses a serious threat to occupants. However, Mitsubishi has not received reports connecting the any accidents or injuries to the defect.

Drivers with vehicles on the verge of shutting down due to drive belt automatic tensioner fracturing will see the battery charge warning light illuminate.

Timeline of Events

Mitsubishi received a field report in September 2010 describing an instance of automatic tensioner breakage. This prompted the company to launch an investigation into the issue to ascertain a root cause. In December 2011, engineers for the automaker found that production staff had swapped the bearing in the automatic tensioner for a lead-free alternative in March 2008 and suspected that the new product was cracking when operating in high-load environments. Mitsubishi reshaped the bearing to reduce surface stress and initiated a field monitoring campaign with an expiration date of November 2015.

In December 2015, the car manufacturer reviewed the results of the four-year field monitoring program and began another program scheduled to conclude in January 2018.

Last month, Mitsubishi conducted another data review and found the occurrence of automatic tensioner breakage was higher than expected and increasing. The company called for a voluntary safety recall Jan. 19 to address the problem.

The Solution

Mitsubishi intends to direct dealers to replace the drive belt tensioners in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgment document. The automaker will notify dealers Feb. 9 and reach out to owners via first-class mail March 27. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact Mitsubishi customer service at (888) 648-7820. Callers should use the internal recall identification code SR-18-001. Owners can also contact the NHTSA using its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.

Ken BoydMitsubishi recalls vehicles with defective drive belt components