Subaru of America has announced that it is issuing a product defect recall for more than 633,000 vehicles due to fire risks over door lights that may short circuit. According to a report in The Detroit News, Subaru, which is a unit of Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., is recalling all of its 2010-11 Legacy and Outback models along with some 2006-12 Tribeca and 2009-12 Forester vehicles.
The automaker posted an alert on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website that nearly 53,000 accessory puddle lights were sold on the recalled vehicles. Each door has two lights that are fixed to the rocker panels to brighten the ground under the door. When the lights are exposed to moisture such as salt water, they could short circuit, leading to smoke or fire.
Consumer Safety Complaints
The vehicle manufacturer got its first report of smoke or fire from a Tribeca owner in April 2007. In September 2007, the company made an engineering change to add dielectric grease to the connections. Another modification was made in June 2008 to the wiring of the puddle lamp to diminish the probability of corrosion and yet another change to improve the wiring was made again in November 2008. One more fire was reported in connection with an Outback/Legacy in March 2010. It was not until later in March 2011 that Subaru actually opened an investigation into the issue. When this recall begins, Subaru will install an additional harness with a new fuse to prevent these types of fires, at no cost to consumers.
Auto Product Liability Issues
It is unclear as to why Subaru did not recall the affected vehicles in 2007 when it first received complaints about the danger of potential fires. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that there were 184,500 vehicle fires in 2010, which resulted in 285 deaths and 1,440 injuries nationwide. Vehicle fires or the risk of fires is not to be taken lightly. It is important to look into whether the automaker investigated consumer complaints in a proper and timely manner.
Individuals who are injured as a result of a vehicle defect can file an auto product liability claim against the manufacturer or the maker of the defective part. Injured victims can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering, permanent injuries and emotional distress. Families of deceased victims can also file a wrongful death claim seeking damages.