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Recall: Subarus for puddle lamp short circuits

Dealer-installed puddle lamps can fail on Forester, Outback, Legacy and Tribeca models.

By Exhaust Notes Jan 3, 2013 7:01AM
Subaru is recalling as many as 633,842 cars to fix accessory lights that can short circuit, according to filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Puddle lamps on the 2009-2012 Forester, 2006-2012 Tribeca and 2010-2011 Outback and Legacy models may short circuit when exposed to water and road salt. The lamps, located under the side-view mirrors and on the running boards, illuminate the ground when the vehicle is unlocked.

Subaru said that 53,999 puddle lamps have been sold in North America. However, since the lamps are installed by dealers, Subaru said it did not know how many cars were actually affected and was "notifying that many so we can get to the 54,000 that do have the light."

Subaru said that it had received at least three owner complaints of smoke pouring out of the lamps since 2007, and had attempted four separate fixes on the production line, including adding a small fuse directly into the lamp harnesses. None had solved the problem. In the worst case, plastic parts of the running board and mirror housings can melt.

Subaru dealers -- which are responsible for installing the lamps, not the factory -- will install another fuse on both sides of the vehicles starting in February. Owners can contact the automaker at 1-800-782-2783.

In March 2012, Subaru recalled 275,000 Foresters for faulty middle rear seat belts that may not lock properly. In February 2012, Subaru recalled a few hundred 2012 Legacy and Outback models for potentially faulty side airbags.

[Source: NHTSA]

Clarification: Due to unclear information provided by NHTSA at press time, this story has been updated to reflect the number of puddle lamp accessories sold by Subaru and that the recall affects as many, but not exactly, 633,842 cars.
Jan 3, 2013 8:19AM
As a Subaru sales person I wish the news media would double check their information before putting out this information.  There have not been that many of the vehicles even made with the puddle lights and rear view mirror turn signal lights.
False information, poorly researched can be very damaging.  But as we all know, it it is on the internet it must be true!!!!

Jan 3, 2013 8:24AM

I have a Forester and it's probably the best car I have owned in my 45 years of driving.  I am just glad they are able to catch the glitches and correct them quickly.


Jan 3, 2013 8:38AM
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that anything along the "rocker panels" and under, are going to be subject to the elements, mainly road salt and snow in Subarus biggest markets.  I'm sure all the other products that offer a similar add-on/option have the same problem.   Drive your Escalade through the Daytona beaches a couple times a year, and see how your "puddle lights" and automatic running boards work !!!!!
Jan 3, 2013 8:30AM
Just like it happened yesterday.... "Republicans in Congress did not vote on Sandy's Bill"... but the press forgot to mention that there was a reason why... "Billions" of those 60 Billion Dollars where PORK!  NY and NJ where to get only a portion of what was requested and what is needed. To have that vote would have been IRRESPONSIBLE...   Just like the liberal press!
Jan 3, 2013 8:15AM
My 2000 Suburu is having all the above problems too so what can I do? I have been changing the rear right puddle lamp frequently and the right front passenger door wont open when all other doors open which I couldn't understand why a reliable, one of the most admirable cars exhibits. I am sad to read about this recalls. What can I do?  
Jan 3, 2013 9:19AM
I have a 2008 Subaru Legacy and since I bought the car the tire light has been coming on.  I took it back so many times to the dealer and they cannot find anything wrong with it.  They will put air in the tire and in two weeks time the tire light will come on again.  I really don't know what to do.  HELP!!!
Jan 3, 2013 9:51AM
if this is the worst you can say about suburu then i might start looking at one to buy. i had a chevy that i loved but it kept stranding me because the anti theft device kept turning the car off because of a faulty ignition. at least puddle lights and a faulty seat belt wont leave you sitting on the side of the road. it finally cost me 800 dollars- of course after the warranty expired. they did a number of things to fix it but wouldnt just take the anti-theft device out because it was factory installed and the dealers wont take them out and if you take it out somewhere else it voids the warranty. i finally had to replace the entire wiring harness. havent had a problem since.
Jan 3, 2013 9:10AM
I dont always build cars, but when I do you can be sure there will be a recall on them.
Jan 3, 2013 10:55AM

First more bad news

Subaru states......"owner complaints of smoke pouring out of the lamps since 2007"

And the good news

Subaru released a statement that Fire Extinguishers are now available next to the sales brochures

Jan 4, 2013 8:17AM
I find it ironic that when an Asian manufacture issues a recall its commended and a good thing.  When Ford or GM issue one, its a black mark.  This goes for auto review/writers also, they too bash the domestics constantly.
Jan 3, 2013 9:19AM
I agree Jim Heet. I too am a Subaru salesperson. Maybe 2 out of 10 of our vehicles have puddle lights; and mainly on a Limited model only. Rarely does a customer have them added. 634,000, that would have to be EVERY Subaru sold in the past 4 years!!! I would doubt that even a small fraction of them have the lights. Yeah, once again, screwed up, news media with half **** partial information that causes more damage than good.
Jan 3, 2013 10:36AM

Jim Heet......this has nothing to due with GM, in fact it is simply reporting another recall . Certainly nothing new for Subaru as they have had numerous recalls throughout the years. Better be nice to our friends at MSN or they just might do a story on inherent design flaws with Subaru`s head gaskets

Jan 3, 2013 11:25AM


 frosty says......"Nine times out of ten, when you see a vehicle with a light out on the road, it's a Subaru product", I`m sure a statistical fact. The next thing he`ll be telling us is to buy a trouble free 


Jan 3, 2013 10:19AM

Ever notice how things change when they move the production to the USA!?!

Just sayin'.......

Jan 4, 2013 10:34AM
Were on our third Subaru . I don't think there's a better snow or rain car for the money. They handle like a slot car with the right tires on them.  We only had one recall for our 2007 Forester, and it was minor. These are pretty good cars in my opinion.
Jan 3, 2013 11:51AM


Jan 3, 2013 8:33AM
hey its american car companys like govt motors bashin japanese brands
Jan 3, 2013 10:00AM
I am glad to see they have corrected the # in the article above, but still list the inflated number in the headline on MSN.  I guess they just don't like Subaru, I am sure they would have corrected that by now if it was Gov't Motors
Jan 3, 2013 10:52AM

I ,own a 2005 SUBARU BAJA it is probably the best vehicle I have ever owned. I would not hesitate buying another, unfortunately they dropped the Baja, I think Subaru is commendable for issuing a recall on so many vehicles so that they may insure the safety of all those that patronize their product. 

Jan 3, 2013 9:59AM

My first car was a 1976 Subaru sedan and i loved that car. It was the best car and I drove it to death. So last year I bought another one (used) 2002 Subaru Outback. I had nothing but trouble from the moment I purchased it. It was costing me money (and lots of it) it seemed like at every turn. I couldnt unload that car fast enough. I am over my love affair with Subaru's and will probably never buy another one


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