If you own a 2016-2017 Subaru Outback or Legacy, lock the doors and hide the key. Subaru says owners should not drive the cars, and issued a recall, amidst fears of steering column failure.
A notice from the company, provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said:
An incorrect setting of a tool used in production of the steering column may have resulted in improper machining of one of the steering column shafts. If this improper machining condition exists, the steering column shaft may not engage properly. If this were to occur, the steering wheel may rotate freely and the driver would lose the ability to steer the vehicle.
To remedy this condition, it is necessary to inspect the lot number of the steering column. If the vehicle contains a steering column with one of the affected lot numbers, the steering column must be replaced. Until the vehicle has been inspected, owners are advised not to drive their vehicle.
Subaru says the lot numbers of steering columns (which are linked to 52,000 vehicles) will be screened to see which ones have been affected. All vehicles should undergo physical inspection by a Subaru Field Service Engineer before taking to the road.
The recall was announced on May 10, one week after a 2016 Subaru Outback driver towed their car to a Subaru dealership with steering issues. After a thorough inspection, nothing seemed to be of issue—so on May 5, the car was dissected and the steering column was sent to a Subaru lab in Indiana. On May 9, the lab determined the cause and immediately issued a stop-sale of all the affected models.
Subaru’s recall comes just days after Takata, a Japanese airbag supplier, recalled more than 40 million of its airbags worldwide. Their safety bags’ deployment may send metal fragments, or shrapnel, flying from the bag in the event of a crash.
In April, a high school senior from Richmond, Texas, became the 11th person known worldwide to have died due to a Takata airbag inflator that ruptured after a minor car crash.