Nearly 600,000 Subaru Legacy, Outback vehicles recalled for potential fire hazard

September 30, 2016

Subaru is recalling nearly 600,000 Legacy and Outback vehicles from the 2010 to 2014 model-years. According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the windshield wiper motor cover on some of those vehicles may not have been properly manufactured. The component was supplied by American Mitsuba Corporation.

If some of that sounds familiar, it's probably because Subaru conducted a similar recall in 2011, limited to 2010 and 2011 models. Today's recall is slightly different, though, so even if your vehicle was repaired five years ago, you'll need to take it in for service again. Sorry.

Even though the two recalls stem from two different problems, the outcomes of those problems are nearly identical. In both cases, the windshield wiper motor cover may not adequately shield the motor from contaminants, which could affect the motor's functionality. NHTSA presents one possible scenario from recall #2:

[I]f there is an obstruction such as snow or ice in the cowl area and when the windshield wipers are turned off, the wiper arms would be forced to "park" at a higher than intended position on the windshield. In this situation, the wiper arms will continuously attempt to return to the normal park position, generating an excessive amount of electrical current in the wiper motor bottom cover, possibly resulting in overheating.

That, in turn, might melt a portion of the wiper motor cover and/or result in failure of the wipers. In some cases, the motor might even catch fire.

Today's recall affects the following models:

  • 2010-2014 Subaru Legacy vehicles built between November 26, 2008 and June 7, 2013
  • 2010-2014 Subaru Outback vehicles built between January 9, 2009 and June 7, 2013 

NHTSA says that 592,647 vehicles registered in the U.S. are affected.

Subaru will mail recall notices to owners, asking them to take their cars to dealerships for service. Dealers will replace the windshield wiper motor bottom cover assembly at no charge. 

If you own one of these vehicles and have questions, you're encouraged to contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783 and ask about recall WTK-71, or call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236  and ask about safety campaign #16V694000.

Please note: as mentioned above, even if you had your Subaru repaired under the 2011 recall, you'll need to follow through on this one, too. 

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