Piston Slap: Flammable Subies Up North, But Tennesseein' is Believin'!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap flammable subies up north but tennesseein is believin

Jon writes:

Hi Sajeev, I own a 2002 Subaru WRX wagon, and live in Tennessee. Last month, Subaru and the NHTSA issued a recall for certain 02-03 WRXs in northern states. The recall states that in cold weather, there may be an underhood fuel leak. Tennessee is not considered a cold-weather state, so my car is not officially part of the recall. But I’ve noticed that if the temperatures get down to the 20s (not particularly cold, in my book), I can definitely smell raw fuel coming from the engine bay. I’ve called two dealerships in my area, and neither of them have heard anything about the recall. I called Subaru directly, and they are insisting that I take my car to a dealer for an inspection. Naturally, the cost of this inspection will only be refunded if the car is then included in the recall. I do not at all like this option. Any ideas on where else to turn?

Sajeev Answers:

Offsetting planned losses via regional recalls makes me sick. Look, it even snowed in Houston this winter. TWICE. It’s been mighty cold outside, so maybe Subaru should send a letter to “not affected” customers saying they aren’t worth a service tech’s inspection skills?

Because that is the end game: so get the local community involved. Forget about complaining to Subaru’s customer help line, talk to NHTSA and consumer advocates for advice. I’d start with those bloodhounds on local TV: this makes for great news. My local CBS affiliate was the first to blow out the Ford Explorer/Firestone problem, so to speak. Point is, this stuff works.

If all else fails, go to the local courthouse and file for arbitration. That certainly gets Subaru’s attention: legal fees are far more painful than fixing your trivial fuel line. So here’s the cop out from the horses’ mouth:

Recall Number: 09V468000

Dates Manufactured: Sep 2000 to Sep 2002

Number of Vehicles Affected: 5724

Date Owners Notified On: Dec 2009

Defect Description:

SUBARU IS RECALLING CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2002-2003 IMPREZA WRX VEHICLES ORIGINALLY SOLD IN OR CURRENTLY REGISTERED IN THE STATES OF SOUTH DAKOTA, NEBRASKA, NORTH DAKOTA, MINNESOTA, IDAHO, IOWA, MONTANA, COLORADO, WISCONSIN, NEW YORK, WYOMING, MICHIGAN, ALASKA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, VERMONT, AND MAINE. DURING COLD STARTS, TYPICALLY UNDER EXTREMELY COLD TEMPERATURES, FUEL LEAKS IN THE FUEL DELIVERY LINE COULD OCCUR WHERE THE LINE CONNECTS WITH A RUBBER HOSE.

Consequence of Defect:

FUEL LEAKS, IN THE PRESENCE OF AN IGNITION SOURCE, COULD RESULT IN A FIRE.

Corrective Action:

DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE FUEL LINE FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING DECEMBER 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT SUBARU AT 1-800-782-2783.

Notes:

SUBARU RECALL NO. WVK-21. OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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  • Obbop Obbop on Mar 24, 2010

    The future is plastics.

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Mar 25, 2010

    Ray LaHood and his minions sound asleep as usual. Q: How many ex-NHTSA employees are there at Subaru? A: Enough to avoid a total recall of vehicles that should not be started in temperatures below 25 deg F from an automaker constantly promoting their vehicles bumper-high in snow.

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.
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