Mitsubishi recalls vehicles with defective windshield wipers

Cypress, Calif. – Feb. 28, 2018 – Mitsubishi Motors North America has recalled more than 158,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective windshield wipers, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects multiple models, including:

  • 2011-2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport sport utility vehicles produced between Aug. 26, 2010, and June 1, 2012.
  • 2013-2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SUVs produced between July 20, 2012, and Nov. 25, 2015.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SUVs produced between Jan. 11, 2016, and July 8, 2016.

Mitsubishi suspects all of the vehicles referenced in the recall contain the defective components.

The Defect

The models named in this recall feature front windshield wiper ball joint assemblies that are prone to corrosion. Specifically, the resin case protecting the ball joint oxidizes after coming into contact with moisture and degrades at an accelerated rate, leading the ball joint to separate from the wiper link and completely impair wiper functionality. This poses a serious safety hazard to drivers, as they may not be able to clear their windshields when navigating inclement weather. However, Mitsubishi has not received field reports connecting any accidents or injuries connected to the defective parts.

Timeline of Events

The Japanese automaker received a report in March 2010 detailing an instance in which a driver operating an Outlander with limited windshield wiper functionality, according to an NHTSA chronology document. Mitsubishi launched an investigation and found that the windshield wiper ball joint on the vehicle had corroded but was unable to pinpoint the root cause of the oxidization. Between March 2010 and September 2015, the automotive company monitored the field for similar incidents. Over this time, the company received 10 reports mentioning corroded wiper ball joints.

In February 2015, Mitsubishi received another field report referencing the problem, which had caused the complete loss of windshield wiper functionality. Engineers conducted additional environmental tests in an effort to replicate the problem but could not do so. This led them to assume that the corrosion was a result of high-pressure washing. Mitsubishi continued the limited monitoring program through September 2016. During this time, the company conducted laboratory tests that revealed the front deck garnishes on the Outlander Sport may degrade over time, leading to moisture penetration in the vicinity of the windshield wiper ball joint. This finding led Mitsubishi to conduct a voluntary recall in October 2016 that applied to stock Outlander models and excluded the Sport variation.

In November 2017, the automaker began field monitoring for the Outlander Sport. Mitsubishi received some reports related to the Outlander Sport over this time but the claim rate failed to surpass that of the stock model. Nevertheless, the automotive company decided to conduct a voluntary recall Feb. 2, 2018, to reduce the likelihood of harm to drivers. Dealers received official notification Feb. 23, 2018.

The Solution

Mitsubishi has directed dealers to replace the windshield wiper rods and motor crank arms in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgment document. The automaker will notify owners via first-class mail April 10, 2018. Those in need of more immediate assistance can connect with Mitsubishi customer service personnel at (888) 648-7820. Callers should use the internal recall reference code SR-18-004. Owners can also reach out to the NHTSA directly using its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.

Sean ReyesMitsubishi recalls vehicles with defective windshield wipers