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2003 Subaru Impreza

5 Defect Investigations from the NHTSA

NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2003 Subaru Impreza

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2003 Subaru Impreza, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Air Bag Inflator Rupture

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE14016

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-016 in June 2014 based on six inflator rupture incidents involving consumer owned vehicles produced by five vehicle manufacturers.All six vehicles were operated in Florida or Puerto Rico at the time of the rupture and for the majority of their service life, and were equipped with inflators produced by Takata, a tier-one supplier of automotive air bag systems.During the course of PE14-016, ODI determined that five additional vehicle manufacturers used inflators of a similar design and vintage also supplied by Takata. No evidence of field failures was found in vehicles produced by these five additional manufacturers.Nonetheless, at ODI's insistence, all 10 vehicle manufacturers initiated a regional recall within approximately two weeks of the opening of the investigation.The regions recalled initially included Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, areas with consistently high absolute humidity and climatic conditions believed to be a significant factor in the inflator ruptures.As part of the recall actions, inflators removed from remedied vehicles are to be returned to Takata for testing.Takata's initial test results on passenger inflators from remedied vehicles indicated a much higher than anticipated rupture frequency for inflators returned from Florida.Accordingly, ODI requested all 10 manufacturers expand the regional recalls for passenger inflators to include other geographic areas where high absolute humidity conditions exist, including the Gulf States and other coastal areas.Takata's testing of the passenger inflators to date continues to indicate this geographic area as having the highest risk, with no ruptures occurring from inflators returned from outside the expanded recall regions.During PE14-016, four additional passenger inflator field events occurred, all in vehicles from the same expanded geographic region.Also during PE14-016, four additional driver inflator field events occurred including two in vehicles from regions not known for high absolute humidity, specifically California and North Carolina.Accordingly, ODI requested all five of the affected vehicle manufacturers currently using the subject Takata driver inflators expand to nationwide recalls.Significantly, neither of the affected vehicle manufacturers or Takata provided any explanation to account for these two driver air bag inflator ruptures outside the area of high absolute humidity.Takata testing of returned driver inflators indicates a lower rupture frequency as compared to passenger inflator testing.All test ruptures reported by Takata to date have occurred on inflators returned from high absolute humidity areas.The PE is now closed/upgraded to an Engineering Evaluation (EA15-001) to include all manufacturersand vehicles known to be affected at this time.ODI's EA investigation will focus on, among other things, root cause analysis, other potential defect consequences, identification of affected vehicles scope, and adequacy of the remedy.The recalls related to this PE are: 14V343, 14V344, 14V348, 14V351, 14V353, 14V655, 14V700, 14V701, 14V752, 14V763, 14V770, 14V773, 14V787, 14V802 and 14V817.The number of vehicles affected are an estimate since some vehicles may have both the driver and passenger side inflators recalled. The five ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at under the following identification numbers: 10537899, 10568848, 10585224, 10605877, 10651492


    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE09017

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: March 10, 2009
    • Date Closed: July 02, 2009
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Carburetor System
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Fuel Pump
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Fuel Injection System
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Fuel Injection System:Fuel Rail
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Fuel Injection System:Injectors
    Fuel System, Other
    Fuel System, Other:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Other:Fuel Injection System

    Summary: Complainants report fuel leakage most frequently in winter during initial cold engine startup.owners will either notice a fuel odor inside the occupant compartment or fuel odor/leakage at the fuel lines on the right side atop the engine. Once the engine has warmed, the odor/leakage may cease.Subaru revised the fuel pipe/hose design for model year (MY) 2003-04 WRX vehicles produced after August 2003.Subaru also introduced a MY 2004 Impreza sti vehicle with a different engine and fuel pipe/hose layout.out of the total of 994 complaints, 944 concern MY 2002-03 WRX vehicles built through August 2003.Subaru also reports one fire on a MY 2002 WRX vehicle that occurred in February March 2009, ODI inspected and video taped a MY 2002 WRX vehicle with a fuel leak during cold engine start up.the video was provided to Subaru and is in the investigation file. This investigation is being upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA09-011) to further study this issue.


    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA09011

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings

    Summary: The design of the fuel line (metal rail/rubber hose interface) is susceptible to fuel odor and/or seepage in extreme cold temperature conditions.owners most often noticed fuel odor in the occupant compartment area during initial cold engine start-up.once the engine is warmed, the odor/seepage issue dissipates.from Subaru's data, ODI notes that the incident rates are higher in states with colder temperatures.there was one allegation of a fire incident in which the owner had reported that he noticed fuel odor a few days earlier, but ODI could not confirm the origin of the fire. To address this issue, Subaru will replace the fuel line with a "longer rubber hose segment version/design" on 5,724 MY 2002-2003 vehicles built through September 12, 2002 in 16 states (ak, co, ia, id, me, mi, mn, mt, nd, ne, nh, NY, sd, vt, wi & wy).in addition, Subaru will extend the warranty coverage to 12 years/unlimited mileage on vehicles in the remaining 34 states.this engineering analysis is closed (see recall campaign 09V-468)


    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE04002

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: January 07, 2004
    • Date Closed: May 27, 2004
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings

    Summary: Subaru reports that the fuel odor is caused by "fuel seepage during cold start of the engine under extremely cold temperatures." The leak occurs in a fuel line in the engine reports that the failure is due to "the misaligned angle between two fuel delivery lines which resulted in such fuel seepage during the first few seconds of cold engine start during these cold temperatures."Subaru reports that the two fuel lines are connected with a hose that becomes too stiff in very cold temperatures to conform to the misalignment. Subaru has issued a technical service bulletin (Subaru service bulletin number 09-36-03) to replace the fuel lines with new lines that are properly aligned and that have a longer connecting hose.ODI phone calls to many of the complainants confirm that fuel odor is noticable during very cold temperatures and cold start but goes away as the engine warms up, and the odor is not present in warmer temperatures. A few owners report that attempts to eliminate the leakage by tightening the connecting hose clamps is not effective in eliminating the fuel odor.a safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of Agency resources does not appear to be warranted.accordingly, this investigation is closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.the Agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances.

  5. INVESTIGATION: Front suspension control arm failure

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE11011

    Component(s): Suspension
    Suspension:Front:Control Arm
    Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Lower Arm

    Summary: On September 6, 2011, Fuji Heavy Industries USA, Inc, on behalf of Subaru of America, Inc notified the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) it would be conducting a safety recall of certain model year (MY) 2002 through 2007 Subaru Impreza, MY 2003 through 2008 Subaru Forester, and MY 2005 through 2006 Saab 9-2X vehicles originally sold or currently registered in one the "salt belt" states including the District of Columbia (DC). For the purpose of this investigation, "salt belt" states include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and DC.ODI's analysis of consumer complaint data identified 11 reports alleging failure of either the right or left lower control arm due to excessive corrosion. All of these complaints were associated with vehicles currently registered or originally sold in a "salt belt" state. Through a similar analysis of complaint and warranty data submitted to ODI by Subaru, ODI identified 18 consumer complaints and 6 warranty claims associated with failure of the left or right front lower control arm due to excessive corrosion. All of these consumer complaints associated with vehicles either currently registered of originally sold in a "salt belt" state.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.

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