Laguna Hills, CA – March 12, 2019 – Subaru of America, Inc. announced the recall of certain 2019 Forester and Crosstrek vehicles. A connector inside the Electronic Power Steering unit may short-circuit, causing a loss of electric power steering assistance. Up to 10,417 vehicles are potentially affected by this issue.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Recall Report on this issue, a connector inside the Electronic Power Steering control unit may form small gaps in the plastic material molding during the manufacturing process. Consequently, connector terminals inside the plastic molding may have insufficient isolation between terminals. If a loss in isolation happens, the EPS warning lamp will light and the EPS assist may be disabled. When this occurs, steering will become more difficult, increasing the risk of a crash.
Timeline of Events
Subaru received the first report of a vehicle experiencing loss of power steering assist Jan. 8, 2019. The report came from a transport truck driver who had just restarted the engine to load the vehicle for transportation. The problem occurred before the vehicle was in motion. Subaru requested part collection to begin a supplier investigation.
In the following week, Subaru received ten additional incidents of vehicles with disabled EPS assist. In all ten new cases, the issue happened shortly after the engine was restarted but prior to driving the vehicle, similar to the original occurrence. All eleven of these cases surfaced in Japan, while still under the automaker’s control.
The Investigation proceeded with a supplier-conducted examination of the failed parts, review of the manufacturing process and an inquiry into the history of the composition of raw materials involved in the connector’s fabrication.
On Jan. 16, Subaru received the first report of this problem occurring while a vehicle was in motion. Like the previous incidents, the failure was reported by a transport truck driver while the vehicle was still in Japan under manufacturer control. As a result, all production and shipping of potentially affected vehicles was halted.
Subaru of America subsequently placed a hold on these vehicles on Jan. 21. Since all the vehicles were in the shipping process and hadn’t yet arrived in the U.S., the hold kept the automobiles at their various ports of entry. Back in Japan, a safety recall was announced Jan.30 by Subaru for the Japanese market, because some of the potentially affected Forester and Crosstrek vehicles had already been sold.
In the U.S., Subaru went ahead with distribution of the vehicles to retailers beginning Feb. 4, so that dealers could make repairs. A voluntary safety recall was issued at that time.
The recall of potentially affected vehicles began Feb. 7, 2019. As of that date, none of the affected vehicles had been sold yet. Subaru has notified dealers of the issue, and they will inspect the steering gearbox and replace it as necessary, free of charge.
Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-373-6614. Subaru’s number for this recall is WUC-88. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V065000.