Subaru Recalls Ascent SUV Over Fire Risk

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

If you purchased a new Subaru Ascent within the last few years, you may want to consider checking its recall status. The manufacturer is worried that 272,000 examples of the SUV could pose a fire risk and is recommending owners park them outside until inspections can be conducted. Though the turnaround should be relatively short, as Subaru already seems to be aware of what’s causing the problem.


The recall was reported to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week and includes mention of two vehicle fires – though no injuries.


According to Subaru, there’s a chance that the bolt securing the ground terminal of the positive temperature coefficient heater may not be properly fastened. This means the terminal and surrounding components could theoretically melt or even ignite something within the engine bay. Subaru is advising Ascent (MY 2019-2022) owners to park their vehicles outdoors, away from structures, and to not leave them unattended with the engine running until the necessary repairs are made.


Drivers will want to remain vigilant while on the move, taking note of any unfamiliar smells that could foreshadow an electrical fire. Though, if your sniffer isn’t up to the task, smoke billowing out from behind the dashboard or driver-side footwell is basically a guarantee that you’ve got yourself a serious problem. If you haven’t already pulled off the road and shut down your engine by then, you’re likely already in the midst of an engine burning itself down.


Subaru recommends pulling off the road immediately, turning the car off, and calling roadside assistance. This also is why it’s never a bad idea to have a small fire extinguisher secured inside your vehicle.


The repair procedure seems to be relatively simple. Subaru will take the vehicle in and replace the bolt, ground wire, and connector holder if necessary. Formal recall notifications should begin reaching customers within a month or two. But those not wanting to wait can head over to Subaru’s digital recall department and input their 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) to determine whether or not their Ascent is included in the recall.


Vehicle owners can also visit the NHTSA's recall page or whip out their phone and call the Vehicle Safety Hotline (888-327-4236) Monday through Friday.


[Image: Subaru]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 14, 2022

    Subaru Ascent ownership cycle:

    a) Buy

    b) Drive

    c) Burn

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 14, 2022

    The "Chronology" section of the recall report is interesting, if you're into cars and how they are put together (battery, to air, to DC with torque and rotation angle detection). Estimated percentage with defect: 1%.

    "Description of the Cause : Obscured access to the ground point may not have allowed the ground bolt to achieve a proper tightness during production assembly." I *told* you the engine bay was too crowded. 😉

    Dear NHTSA: "Carport" is one word ("Car port" is where ro-ros stop).


  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.
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