Subaru of America has announced the recall of certain Impreza model vehicles due to a problem relating to its airbag's occupancy detection systems. The problem prevents the deployment of front passenger airbags during crash conditions. This is a particularly scary issue considering the important role that airbags play in preventing and/or reducing the severity of injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
Approximately 32,400 model year 2012 Imprezas have been recalled. All of vehicles were manufactured between April 21, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2012. The recall does not cover Subaru's STI or WRX model vehicles.
The airbag defect is triggered when a passenger is riding in the car and when the accessory power outlet is being used to recharge a cellphone or to plug in another kind of electronic device. When those conditions exist, if the passenger touches a piece of metal in the car that happens to be electrically grounded, it could deactivate the occupant detection system and thereby deactivate the airbag and prevent its engagement during a collision.
Drivers can actually note whether or not the defect has caused the passenger airbag to be deactivated by looking at the airbag warning light and the passenger airbag indicator, which will show if the airbag has been disengaged.
Drivers in possession of affected Subaru vehicles can go to their local Subaru dealer to receive a free recall repair. Considering the dangers to passengers if the airbag does not engage in crash conditions, motorists are definitely encouraged not to operate their cars with a passenger inside until they have resolved the issue.
Source: Auto News, "Subaru recalls 32,400 Imprezas to fix potential airbag problem," Nora Naughton, July 15, 2015