Airbag Sensor Problems Result in Recall For 118K Subaru Outback, Legacy Vehicles

Subaru airbag sensors may experience a short circuit, leading to the failure of the passenger airbag to detect occupants and deploy during accidents.

Subaru of America is recalling over 118,000 of its Outback and Legacy vehicles from the 2020 to 2022 model years, due to a front passenger seat airbag sensor problem, which may cause the airbag to fail to deploy in the event of an auto accident, potentially increasing the risk of serious injuries for occupants.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Subaru Outback and Legacy recall on March 26, following the discovery of a faulty sensor for the Occupant Detection System (ODS), which has also resulted in recent recalls for Toyota and Honda vehicles.

According to the recall notice, a sensor that is linked to the Occupant Detection System may crack and short circuit. This sensor is responsible for detecting if someone is sitting in the front passenger seat. If it is faulty, the sensor might fail to detect a person in the seat, causing the airbag not to deploy during a crash.

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This is the third recall in recent months due to airbag sensor problems involving components supplied by the same manufacturer. In December, Toyota recalled 1.12 million vehicles due to similar concerns, and in February, Honda also issued a similar recall affecting 750,000 vehicles.

Recall Procedure: Subaru Airbag Sensor Issue

The issue was first mentioned in a manufacturer’s report on March 22, which warned of faulty circuit boards. The report indicates the circuit board in model year 2020 through 2022 Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles can crack, allowing moisture to enter the board, resulting in a short circuit that leaves the sensors unable to detect if an individual is in the passenger seat.

Subaru’s recall states that if there’s a potential short circuit, drivers will be alerted through the dashboard. This alert includes the illumination of the “airbag system warning lamp” and the “front passenger’s frontal airbag OFF indicator.” The recall warns that in certain crashes the front passenger airbag may not deploy as intended.

Recall letters to owners are expected to be mailed out by May 21, 2024. Shortly after, a second letter will go out letting owners know that they can get the ODS sensors on the front passenger seat replaced free of charge at any authorized Subaru dealer.

For more information on this recall owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614. Subaru’s number for this recall is WRA-24. 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.nhtsa.gov.

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