Subaru is starting off the year in a way few auto manufacturers would envy by issuing a 634,000 vehicle recall due to a lighting issue that can cause smoke and possibly even fire in some of its vehicles. The Subaru recall affects the Forester SUV for model years 2009 through 2012, Legacy sedan and Outback wagon for model years 2010 through 2011, and the Tribeca SUV for model years 2006 through 2012.
The problem is with the puddle lights that brighten up the area underneath the car doors and make it easier for people to seen when entering and exiting the car at night. Although these lights are only found in about 53,999 cars, the recall itself had to be much wider because Subaru simply doesn’t know exactly which vehicle owners purchased cars with this feature. The wider recall means they’ll definitely catch everyone with the problem, but that most owners notified won’t actually need the fix.
As of this writing, there have been no reports of accidents, injuries or fires as a result of the faulty puddle lights, but there has been one report of smoke. Reports of smoke were what initially alerted Subaru of the potential problem. It happens due to a short circuit that can occur as a result of exposure to electrolytic moisture. That could be a few different scenarios, but the salty wet mess that coats just about everyone’s car this time of year is definitely one way to cause the problem that spurred the Subaru recall.
Once the short circuit happens, the extra heat produced can cause nearby plastic components to melt which then causes smoke and the possibility of fire. The Subaru recall hasn’t actually started yet, but they plan to begin notifying potentially affected vehicle owners next month. The solution will involve dealers installing an additional harness on the vehicle, which will be done free of charge.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. When not drooling over cars, Nicole writes for Wired’s GeekMom.