News Column

Recall Puts Subaru Sales on Hold

Dec. 6, 2011

Chris Woodyard and James R. Healey

Subaru dealers are suddenly left with few new cars to sell because of a voluntary recall and stop-sale order prompted by braking systems problems in its 2012 Impreza, Legacy and Outback vehicles.

Forester and Tribeca crossovers aren't affected.

The trouble with the recalled models is that the driver has to push the brake pedal too far down before it slows or stops the car. Subaru is shipping new brake master cylinders to fix the problem both in cars in stock and those already sold, says Subaru spokesman Michael McHale.

The recall, quietly begun by Subaru last Friday, applies to about 3,000 cars sold and an undisclosed number in inventory, he says. Subaru already was short on new cars as a result of strong sales coupled with supply problems arising from March's earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

McHale said the new master cylinders are on the way and repairs should be completed within a couple of weeks.

At Livermore Subaru in Livermore, Calif., replacement parts have trickled in since the recall began and so far haven't presented a big problem, says sales manager Doug Lechnar.

Jack Fitzgerald, who owns two Subaru dealerships in Maryland and one in Florida, agrees. The parts "are coming in and they will come in faster." But he acknowledges that the recall "has hurt sales a little bit."

Autoweek says the faulty master cylinders made their way into cars produced at Subaru's plants both in Japan and Lafayette, Ind. The publication reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had received about 130 complaints about the problem.

NHTSA's safercar.gov recall site shows no record of the Subaru brake recall. NHTSA says the documents were received Tuesday and a recall notice will be published soon on the NHTSA site.

McHale says Subaru had been on a record sales pace until the recall. It's unclear what effect the recall will have on December sales. The government requires that new cars be taken off sale when replacement parts aren't readily available during safety recalls. Stop-sales are rare but can be devastating.

Toyota was forced to stop selling thousands of new cars in January 2010 after a recall of 2.3 million vehicles to address reports of unintended acceleration. A government analysis later attributed many of the reports to driver error.



Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2011


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