car steering columnSubaru recently announced a recall with stronger language than most manufacturers use in similar situations: Owners of the affected vehicles were asked to “please not drive your car until it has been inspected and, if necessary, the recall repair has been performed.” The problem affects about 48,500 cars currently on American roads.

Potentially Dangerous Steering Column Defect

The problem is centered on a steering column shaft which may have been machined improperly during the manufacturing process. Under certain circumstances, “turning the steering wheel may have no effect on the direction of the wheels.” While Subaru isn’t certain that any individual car has this defect, every vehicle in the affected class needs to be checked. The recall is in effect for Legacy and Outback vehicles from the 2016 and 2017 model years.

The defect is potentially so dangerous that Subaru advises owners of these vehicles to have them towed to the nearest dealership (Subaru will cover the cost). Subaru will inspect each vehicle (a ten-minute process) and if necessary make repairs (expected to take about another hour). Owners can’t determine if their vehicles are affected by this recall without having them inspected at an authorized Subaru retailer because the lot number on each steering column needs to be checked. Simply knowing a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) won’t be sufficient.

Due to the load at any particular retailer, vehicle owners need to make an appointment, and some might have to wait to have the problem addressed. Subaru has said that, if necessary, it will provide rental vehicles for affected owners at its own expense until the inspection and repair can be performed.

Small as Recalls Go

Subaru, like most manufacturers, is no stranger to recalls. Recalls are very common industry-wide, but they don’t often involve problems with the kind of potential danger posed by this steering column issue. In just the past few years, Subaru has made several important recalls related to safety. They’ve ranged from as few as fourteen vehicles (for a problem with moonroof glass anchoring) to more than 650,000 (for a potential brake line corrosion problem).

By that measure, the current steering column recall is moderate in scale. It also pales in comparison to the size of the largest recall in history, which is currently underway. That recall, of defective airbags manufactured by Takata, could affect as many as 100 million vehicles, many of them in the United States. While the Subaru steering column problem hasn’t resulted in any known injuries or deaths, the Takata defect has led to at least ten deaths and more than one hundred serious injuries worldwide. So far, fewer than 9,000 of the vehicles covered by the Takata recall have been Subarus.

The Takata defects and associated recalls have led to numerous lawsuits filed by those injured and the survivors of those killed, as well as by vehicle owners whose cars have lost value because of the problem. The state of Hawaii has sued on behalf of consumers, and other states might follow. Only last week, Takata’s CEO finally announced he would resign after more than three years of continuously expanding scandal and $200 million in fines from US regulators.

Indianapolis Product Liability Lawyers

As Indianapolis product liability lawyers, we understand the complex nature of product liability law. If you or someone close to you has been harmed, physically or financially, by a defective or dangerous product, you may have the right to hold the manufacturer liable for the damage caused. Contact us to find out what options are available to you. We offer a free consultation to go over the details of each individual case. Call or text us at 317-920-6400 or contact us online today to learn more.

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