The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a massive recall campaign today for some of the more popular Subaru models due to defective puddle lights that could short out and possibly lead to smoke and/or fire.

(*)While the recall notice lists a total of 633,842 Forester, Legacy, Outback and Tribeca models from various model years, Automotive News is reporting that there are only 53,999 units actually equipped with the defective lights, but Subaru is having to make the massive recall since it is unable identify which vehicles have the lights.

The problem with the 2009 through 2012 Forester, 2006 through 2012 Tribeca and the 2010 through 2011 Legacy and Outback is that the puddle lights mounted under the door mirrors can collect water or moisture, which can lead to the short. To fix the problem, Subaru is adding an extra fuse to the wiring harness as a part of the recall that will go into effect next month. For Forester owners, this is the second major recall in less than a year following the 275,000 units that were afflicted with faulty rear seatbelts.

For more information about the recall or to see if your vehicle applies, scroll down for the official NHTSA recall notice.
Show full PR text
Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
SUBARU / FORESTER 2009-2012
SUBARU / LEGACY 2010-2011
SUBARU / OUTBACK 2010-2011
SUBARU / TRIBECA 2006-2012

Manufacturer: SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC.
Report Receipt Date: DEC 26, 2012
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V602000
NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Component: EXTERIOR LIGHTING
Potential Number of Units Affected: 633,842

Summary:
Subaru is recalling certain model year 2010 and 2011 Legacy and Outback vehicles, certain model year 2006 through 2012 Tribeca vehicles sold before January 2012, and certain model year 2009 through 2012 Forester vehicles sold before January 2012. These vehicles may have been equipped with accessory puddle lights that, when illuminated, brighten the area under the doors of the vehicle. A short circuit can develop when either the puddle light or connector are exposed to an electrolytic moisture source (such as road spray that has road salt in it) and it penetrates the circuit board of the puddle light or the pins of the puddle light connector(s).

Consequence:
Over time, migration of the moisture into the circuit board and/or into the connector cavity, may result in a short circuit of the puddle light system. This may generate heat which may melt the plastic resulting in smoke or fire.

Remedy:
Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will install an additional fused-harness, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during February 2013. Owners may contact Subaru at 1-800-782-2783 for more information.

Notes:
Subaru's recall campaign number is WQE-41. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Big Kitty
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll bet they're going to put bigger rear bumpers on them to make more room for liberal tree-hugger bumper stickers.
      Chris Bangle
      • 1 Year Ago
      Subaru's puddle lights are not on the side mirrors. They are located in the rocker panels along the underside of the vehicle.
        nowherefast792
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris Bangle
        My bad I didn't realize Subaru put them there. Doesn't that seem like an awful place to put them to anyone else? Way too exposed.
        insrob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris Bangle
        Wow, they must be really weak if mounted so close to the ground, why bother?
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Bob
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yeah, that's right, more light on the subject.
      Kumar
      • 1 Year Ago
      Interesting that the *actual* recall is about 10% of that number. I wonder it they are playing it safe (or being forced to) due to the ability to have the mirror/light combo added after purchase with OEM lights? Thankfully some cars came with the wiring connections you need to add stuff later like in my case an autodimming rearview. mirror to replace the generic stock unit.
        Doug Utz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kumar
        The high number of vehicles effected are because a very high percentage of the puddle lights were dealer installed, so there is no way for Subaru to track those vehicles, only ones which had them installed at port. They all come pre-wired for the puddle lights, as you note your car did with the auto dim mirror/compass.
      rcyrilj
      • 1 Year Ago
      Subaru's puddle lights are a dealer installed option that lighs up the ground under the doors when you activate the remote key-less entry system. Since they are dealer installed the OEM has no way of knowing what vehicles they are actually on so they are recalling every vehicle made that may have them even though only 53,999 kits have been sold to dealers.
      rmkensington
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mother of god, how can anyone live without a puddle light???
        Drakkon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rmkensington
        Stepping into my car on a rainy night is the most ELECTRIFYING experience!
        Doug Utz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rmkensington
        You would be surprised. We sell a lot of cars with them on it, and do a fair amount of dealer installs for them after the fact. When introduced on the Tribeca in '06, I thought they were a bit gimmicky myself, but have grown to see their usefullness.
      Michael McHale
      • 1 Year Ago
      only 'recalling' 54,000. Notifying 600,000.
        Bob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Michael McHale
        Gad, the figures are staggering.
      tagberto
      • 1 Year Ago
      What is a "puddle light"? Are dark puddles a safety problem?
        Bob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tagberto
        Only if they turn into "Black Ice."
        nowherefast792
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tagberto
        Puddle lights are on the side mirrors and they light up the ground next to the front doors in case there is a frightening puddle nearby.
        Klep
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tagberto
        This article made me curious enough to google it, so at least now I can add that to my bank of car terms, right there with CHMSL.
      Rick
      • 1 Year Ago
      50,000 is not massive
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        insrob
        • 1 Year Ago
        it is a small light that is in the bottom of the side view mirror assembly. When you hit the unlock button, these light up on either side of the vehicle, so you can see puddles or anything else in the way before opening the door and entering the vehicle. Mostly considered a luxury item, not typically standard.
      Drakkon
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't like like short puddles. I like tall leggy ones...
      chadjohn4577277
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lights = no big deal Rear seat belts = concern
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