Subaru Recalling 1.3 Million U.S. Vehicles, and Scented Household Products Could Be the Reason

Photo credit: Subaru
Photo credit: Subaru

From Car and Driver

  • Subaru has announced that it will recall 1.3 million U.S.-market vehicles to fix a problem with brake lights that the company may have traced to certain household chemicals containing silicone.

  • Among the vehicles to be recalled are the 2013–2017 Crosstrek, various Impreza vehicles from 2008–2014 and 2012–2016, and 2014–2016 Forester models in the United States.

  • A Subaru spokesman told C/D that there have been 33 reports of problems with the rear brake light in the U.S. but that the brakes "will still function" even if the light is affected.

UPDATE 3/1/19, 8:00 p.m.: A Subaru spokesman clarified details of the chemical issue and gave additional details on which model years and vehicles are affected by this recall. We have updated the story to include that information.


Subaru announced on Friday that it will recall about 1.3 million Forester, Crosstrek, and Impreza vehicles in the United States. The problem is a defective brake-light switch; in some models with push-button start, the defect could make it possible that the car could be unable to be started, Subaru said.

The Wall Street Journal had reported that the problem could be caused by a buildup of chemicals, which could prevent the switches from working properly. The problem could also "cause a vehicle-stability warning light to flash unnecessarily," the paper reported.

The automaker corrected the paper's report, which had stated that the problematic chemicals were "perfumes." According to Subaru, the problem is only with "certain scented cleaning products." A Subaru spokesman told C/D that these chemicals are "consumer products containing silicone that can seep into the brake-lamp switch housing and deposit a layer on the switch contact. If the contact switch loses conductivity to terminal, it may result in the rear brake lights not illuminating."

Photo credit: Toshi Oku
Photo credit: Toshi Oku

Subaru will issue a voluntary recall to replace the switches. The affected vehicles are the 2013–2017 Crosstrek, certain 2008–2014 and 2012–2016 Impreza models, and 2014–2016 Forester models.

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