Subaru recalls 1,303,530 vehicles for brake light switch issue

Laguna Hills, CA – March 7, 2019 – Subaru of America, Inc. is recalling certain 2014-2016 Forester, 2008-2016 Impreza sedans, 2012-2016 Impreza station wagons, 2008-2014 WRX sedans (including STI), and 2013-2017 Crosstrek vehicles. When exposed to certain contaminants, the brake light switch may malfunction, preventing the brake lights from illuminating. The same problem may also prevent starting of keyless ignitions and shifting of CVT/automatic transmissions out of park. As many as 1,303,530 vehicles are potentially affected by this issue.

The Defect

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Recall Report on this issue, silicone gas may seep into the brake lamp switch housing. If this happens when closure of the contacts occurs, silicon dioxide may form a deposit layer on the switch contact terminal. The contact switch may fail to operate once this compound buildup reaches a certain level.

Depending on the particular vehicle model, this may have a harmful effect on the functioning of brake-lamp illumination, shifting from park, push-button ignition, the anti-lock brake system, vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and Eyesight operation. Brake light failure represents one of the most critical possible consequences stemming from this flaw, resulting in the inability to alert other drivers that the vehicle is slowing or stopping and increasing the chances of a rear-end collision.

Timeline of Events

Subaru received the first technical report of a failure of an ABS/VDC warning lamp due to brake lamp switch problems from the U.S. market in March 2012 and began a supplier investigation at that time.

In August 2012, the investigation revealed oxidized silicon on the contact surface. Since no silicone-containing products were used in the manufacturing process of related parts, it was assumed that exposure resulted from some consumer product containing silicone. Subaru concluded the issue was an atypical incident, not requiring immediate action, but continued to monitor reports from the field for any changes.

From August 2012 through December 2017, additional field data suggested additional problems, so the investigation continued. From January 2018 to January 2019, Subaru determined that a brake lamp switch with a different mechanical design would be beneficial, so it began the specification and validation process for a new component. By February 2019, a voluntary recall was instituted in Japan, and later in the U.S., for the following vehicles and model years: the Subaru Crosstrek from model years 2013-2017, Subaru Forester of 2014-2016, Subaru Impreza of 2008-2016, Subaru WRX of 2008-2014.

The Solution

Effective March 1, 2019, Subaru began informing dealers of the recall of certain Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, and WRX vehicles to replace the brake lamp switch. Subaru will begin notifying affected vehicle owners by mail around April 29, 2019. Owners with a valid email address will be notified by email as well. If parts are not available by the time these notifications go out, owners will be told that parts are not available yet and they will be re-notified once the replacement parts have been received. Retailers will be advised when the notification is scheduled.  Dealers will replace the brake light switch, free of charge.

Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-373-6614. Subaru’s number for this recall is WUE-90. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V149000.

Sean ReyesSubaru recalls 1,303,530 vehicles for brake light switch issue