Regulators checking if Subaru remote starter defect affects other automakers
Federal safety investigators are looking into a Subaru recall to determine if a defect in the remote engine starter could affect other automakers.
If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds any potential defects beyond Subaru, more recalls could result, a NHTSA spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News on Friday. NHTSA did not offer a time frame for the additional investigation.
"As new information becomes available it will be posted on safercar.gov," the e-mail said.
Subaru of America said Thursday it is recalling more than 50,000 vehicles in North America because of the remote engine starter defect in some 2010-13 models that may cause vehicles to start or stop on their own.
Subaru, owned by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., said the recall covers 47,419 vehicles in the United States and 2,819 in Canada. They include the 2010-13 Legacy and Outback; the 2012-13 Impreza, except WRX and STI models; and the 2013 XV Crosstrek with continuously variable or automatic transmissions and Audiovox remote starter accessory kits.
A Subaru spokeswoman said the malfunction in the remote starter occurs when "the retaining clip that holds the internal battery gets dislodged," causing the engine to start or stop without the driver pressing the button. The battery can move if the key fob is dropped, she said.
The key fob must be "severely damaged for a potential malfunction to happen," she said.
An Audiovox spokesman did not return phone calls or e-mails today seeking comment.
In the recall notice, Subaru said that vehicles in range of the remote starters may cause the engine to "start and run for up to 15 minutes or until a stop request is received." The company said the engine also may continue to "start and stop until the fob battery is depleted, or until the vehicle runs out of fuel." If the vehicle is parked in an unventilated area, such as a garage, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The recall includes only 12 2013 Legacy and Outback vehicles, according to NHTSA documents. All other 2013 Legacy and Outback models are exempt. Because the remote engine starter system is deactivated when the vehicle is manually started, drivers are not at risk on the road, according to NHTSA documents.
NHTSA said no accidents or injuries had been reported.
Repairs under the recall are expected to begin by the end of April.