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Subaru Recalls More Than 600,000 Vehicles For Lighting Defect


2011 Subaru Outback

2011 Subaru Outback

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Subaru is recalling more than 600,000 cars--including some Legacy, Outback, Tribeca, and Forester models--for a defect in door lights that may short circuit and lead to a fire.

A notice on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website puts the number of vehicles potentially affected at 633,842. Affected vehicles include all 2010 and 2011 Subaru Legacy and Outback vehicles, certain 2006 through 2012 Subaru Tribeca, and certain 2009 through 2012 Subaru Forester vehicles.

2011 Subaru Legacy

2011 Subaru Legacy

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Documentation from Subaru (PDF) submitted to NHTSA breaks down the number of vehicles potentially affected by the safety recall as follows:

  • 2010 Subaru Legacy – 34,740
  • 2011 Subaru Legacy – 50,911
  • 2010 Subaru Outback – 71,268
  • 2011 Subaru Outback – 129,097
  • 2006 Subaru Tribeca – 30,041
  • 2007 Subaru Tribeca – 11,540
  • 2008 Subaru Tribeca – 18,850
  • 2009 Subaru Tribeca – 6,804
  • 2010 Subaru Tribeca – 2,415
  • 2011 Subaru Tribeca – 2,784
  • 2012 Subaru Tribeca – Final production volume cannot be determined. Only vehicles sold before January 2012 are potentially affected.
  • 2009 Subaru Forester – 88,760
  • 2010 Subaru Forester – 111,830
  • 2011 Subaru Forester – 74,802
  • 2012 Subaru Forester – Final production volume cannot be determined. Only vehicles sold before January 2012 are potentially affected.

2010 Subaru Forester

2010 Subaru Forester

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Subaru said that 53,999 accessory puddle lights were sold and of that number, it is not possible to determine an estimated percentage of affected vehicles that may experience the lighting defect.

The problem

According to Subaru, vehicles equipped with accessory puddle lights have four of them, two on each rocker panel. When the puddle lights are illuminated, they brighten the ground underneath the doors.

A short circuit can develop occurs after moisture, such as salt water, gets into the light circuit board or pin connectors. This condition may generate heat, melting the plastic and resulting in smoke and/or fire.

Subaru said it received the first consumer complaint and warranty claim involving smoke and/or fire on a Tribeca in April 2007. The automaker instituted three engineering changes in 2007 and 2008 to fix the problem. In February 2009, Subaru received the first consumer complaint and warranty claim involving smoke and/or fire on a Forester vehicle and made a running manufacturing change in January 2010. In March 2011, Subaru began an investigation into the issue.

2008 Subaru Tribeca 5-Pass

2008 Subaru Tribeca 5-Pass

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What Subaru will do

Subaru will notify owners of affected vehicles and dealers will install an additional fused harness at no charge. The Subaru safety recall, identified as WQE-41, is expected to begin during February 2013.

In the meantime, owners of vehicles involved in the campaign with any questions or concerns may contact Subaru at 1-800-782-2783.

Alternatively, owners of vehicles involved in the campaign may contact NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to http://www.safercar.gov.  Reference the NHTSA campaign ID No. 12V602000.

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