Following a preliminary evaluation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in April 2015, Subaru is recalling 32,400 examples of the 2012 Impreza sedan and hatchback to repair the Occupant Detection System. The affected vehicles have production dates between April 21, 2011, and February 16, 2012. However, the WRX and STI are excluded from this campaign because they use a different part.

The Impreza's problem concerns the front passenger seat's Occupant Detection System. In these models, the part uses capacitance to determine if someone is present and activates the airbag. According to the documents submitted to NHTSA (as a PDF), if the person sitting there uses a device plugged into the accessory outlet or touches an electrically grounded part like the metal seat adjuster, the ODS recognizes an increase in capacitance. It can then deactivate the airbag. Obviously, this could be a hazard in a crash, but there would be a warning light showing the safety device as off.

To solve the problem, dealers will install a modified Occupant Control Unit. The initial investigation was prompted after 26 complaints to NHTSA about the ODS not working properly. In 2012, Subaru also issued a technical service bulletin that attempted to repair the issue.

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RECALL Subject : Front Passenger Air Bag may not Deploy

Report Receipt Date: JUL 01, 2015
NHTSA Campaign Number: 15V419000
Component(s): AIR BAGS
Potential Number of Units Affected: 32,400

All Products Associated with this Recall
Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
SUBARU IMPREZA 2012

Details

Manufacturer: Subaru of America, Inc.

SUMMARY:
Subaru of America, Inc. (Subaru) is recalling certain 2012 model year Subaru Impreza 4-Door and Station Wagon vehicles (except WRX/STI models) manufactured April 21, 2011, to February 16, 2012. In the affected vehicles, the Occupant Detection System (ODS) may deactivate if a front seat passenger operates a device that is plugged into the power outlet such as a music player or cell phone, or touches a metal part of the vehicle such as the forward/rearward seat adjuster lever.

CONSEQUENCE:
If the ODS deactivates, the front passenger air bag will be turned off and the front passenger air bag will not deploy in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the seat occupant.

REMEDY:
Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will replace the Occupant Control Unit with a modified one, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783. Subaru's number for this recall is WQT-55.

NOTES:
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.

1 Associated Investigation

NHTSA Action Number: PE15012 Passenger Front Air Bag Suppression [close]

SUMMARY:
The Office of Defects Investigation has received 26 Vehicle Owner Questionnaire reports involving the passenger frontal air bag in MY 2012 Subaru Impreza vehicles. These vehicles use a capacitive type Occupant Detection System, which is intended to classify the occupant of the passenger seat as either full sized, small stature, a child seat or other object. The reports allege that the Occupant Detection System, failed to operate properly and incorrectly suppressed (turned off) the front passenger air bag when the seat was occupied. In a frontal crash sufficient to warranty deployment, a suppressed air bag may increase the risk of injury to the occupant of the seat. Additionally, ODI notes that Subaru published a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) No. 17-16-12 on May 29, 2012 to address conditions with the Occupant Detection System that can lead to suppression of the passenger air bag when the passenger seat is occupied. ODI is opening this this investigation to assess the scope, frequency, and consequence of incorrect air bag suppression and any connection that may exists to the TSB. The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues under the following (ODI) identification numbers: 10672345, 10668512, 10668243, 10662987, 10641835, 10640574, 10626384, 10622234, 10621456, 10619273, 10605789, 10604506, 10575908, 10559081, 10557856, 10556661, 10545059, 10538562, 10532118, 10481308, 10478660, 10473662, 10472608, 10470865, 10468157, 10463432.


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