While it’s hard not to marvel at the vast number of vehicles rolling off assembly lines in the nation’s many auto plants, everything is not always smooth sailing, and problems do arise from time to time.
Such was the case at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana. An assembly line worker at the plant is in hot water with Subaru company brass after failing to tighten important braking system components on 2017 Subaru Outback wagons passing through the employee’s station. The gaffe prompted Subaru to issue a recall on dozens of vehicles beginning on August 8, 2016.
Another worker in the same plant discovered the serious oversight after noticing an abnormal brake noise while performing a standard inspection on one of the affected wagons. This discovery prompted a more thorough analysis to get to the root of the problem. Shortly after, Subaru technicians determined that improper torqueing of important braking system components was behind the noise.
During the ensuing investigation, the company traced the faulty wagons back to an associate on the assembly line. Subaru says the worker in question failed to apply the proper torque to the vehicle's right stabilizer clamps, wheel hubs, and front right and left brake calipers, leading to a potential safety hazard on the affected vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that this problem can lead to dangerous driving situations that heighten the chances of a crash. If clamps attaching these bolts to the affected components loosen or detach during operation of the vehicle, it can lead to unstable braking conditions and reduced braking capacity.
The recall affects approximately 99 Outback wagons produced in Lafayette for model year 2017 between June 20 and June 23, 2016. Subaru contacted all owners of the vehicles about the problem, and owners can take their vehicles to their local dealerships for servicing. Dealers will inspect each vehicle to ensure proper bolt torque, and any loose bolts will be replaced at no cost to the owner. Subaru advises any 2017 Outback wagon owner with questions to call its customer service center at 1-800-782-2783 for assistance. Callers should mention recall number WTE-66 when calling.
2016 has not been the Outback's year. This recall by Subaru comes on the heels of a more widespread recall of the Outback. In May 2016, Subaru issued a recall of both its Legacy and Outback models due to a serious defect in the vehicle's steering system. The vehicles in question may have improperly machined steering column shafts that can cause the wheels to fail to turn in the direction drivers need to go, increasing the odds of a crash. The recall affected 48,500 vehicles.