Subaru is not a big automaker, but recalling 634,000 vehicles is a really big deal for any automaker. Subaru’s reason? Short-circuiting puddle lights underneath the outside mirrors in its vehicles that can burn out, go up in smoke, and possibly lead to a fire when exposed to the elements.
So far, only one vehicle has seen smoke coming from its puddle lights, but that was enough to prompt the entire recall. Subaru says there are 53,999 vehicles equipped with the puddle lights, an option found mostly in highly optioned versions of its cars and crossovers. The reason that 633,842 Subarus are being recalled: The automaker doesn’t know which ones have the puddle lights.
Models being recalled include Subaru Foresters from the 2009 through 2012 model years, Subaru Legacy and Outback models from the 2010 through 2012 model years, and Subaru Tribeca models from 2006 through 2012. Areas with a road salt solution are the most at-risk for shorting out the puddle lights, as the salt can hit exposed connectors, acting as an electrolytic solution. That can prompt the wires to build up heat, causing the plastic lighting surround to melt and potentially cause a fire.
The recall for Subaru’s puddle lights is expected to begin next month, with Subaru dealers installing an additional wiring harness to keep the puddle lights better grounded. Owners with questions regarding the recall can contact Subaru at (800) 782-2783, referencing campaign number WQE-41, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at (888) 327-4236, referencing campaign number 12V602000.