Subaru Forester, WRX and WRX STI emissions recall was allegedly used to install secret software.

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Subaru Engine Tuning Problems Cause Class-Action Lawsuit
Subaru Forester, WRX and WRX STI emissions recall was allegedly used to install secret software.

— Subaru engine tuning problems are at the heart of a lawsuit that alleges 2014-2016 Subaru Forester XT, Subaru WRX and WRX STI cars and SUVs have engines too highly tuned, problems that cause the engines to stall or surge.

The plaintiff claims a 2016 recall was ordered to fix problems with the ignition timing but the recall was allegedly just a cover to secretly update the operating systems of the Subaru vehicles.

The lawsuit goes on to allege the repairs de-tuned the engines in an attempt to fix engine damage that had already been done.

The plaintiff claims Subaru called it an "emissions recall" to force Forester and WRX customers to get their vehicles to dealers to have the secret operating system updates performed. In other words, by calling it an official emissions recall, an owner wouldn't be able to renew their vehicle registration until the recall work was complete.

This ensured Subaru dealers would allegedly be able to perform the secret updates that affected the tuning of the engines.

All the cars and SUVs are equipped with turbocharged engines, and although the class-action lawsuit names the Forester XT, WRX and WRX STI, the plaintiff says it's possible more models are affected.

Plaintiff Cheryl Sauer says she leased a new 2014 Subaru Forester XT in April 2013 and brought her vehicle into the dealership for the mandatory emissions recall in 2016. Sauer claims Subaru re-tuned the engine in an effort to fix the engine being tuned too highly, but technicians didn't inform her the engine would be re-tuned.

According to Sauer, the recall repairs caused her Subaru to suffer from engine problems such as surging and stalling, so she took the vehicle back to the dealership. The plaintiff says the automaker initially refused to correct the engine problems but finally offered to replace the engine after the plaintiff kept complaining.

However, Sauer claims she was told the replacement engine wouldn't be available for months and that Subaru would not replace or buy back the Forester XT.

Subaru should have told customers about the alleged engine tuning problems and further should have admitted the emissions recall was really an attempt to repair the engines.

Additionally, the plaintiff claims the automaker should have warned Forester XT and WRX owners and lessees about the allegedly secret software patch that was installed when the vehicles were recalled.

According to the lawsuit, drivers often complain about vehicles that suddenly accelerate or stall, then having to listen to Subaru dealer technicians who say they can't find anything wrong with the vehicles.

The driver of a 2014 Subaru Forester XT complained about the vehicle having problems on cold starts and stalling while traveling uphill. The driver said the Subaru dealer blamed it on bad fuel used in the SUV, then later the vehicle started idling at 3500-4000 RPM and the check engine and emission lights came on.

"I was in an underground garage and had no choice but to try to move the car to the outside for a tow, reverse gear worked and the car was still idling very high, put the it in drive and the car was not responding to accelerator and could barely make it up the ramp from the garage."

The Subaru driver made his opinion clear about what others should do.

"At this point I feel the car is unsafe and will not take it back until the dealer has either figured it out or replaces the car. DO NOT BUY THIS CAR IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING ONE. If anyone else is having this problem this is a potential hazard if the car malfunctions at high speed."

Another 2014 Forester XT driver told of the frustrating wait of more than three months for a replacement engine.

"It was supposed to take 2-3 weeks. Told them today I'm done. I don't trust this vehicle anymore. What are they finding that a simple engine swap (1-2 day job) has still not been completed after 9 days and after waiting 3 months - MONTHS - for the new motor??"

According to the class-action lawsuit, the engine tuning problems cause drivers serious safety issues and also lead to decreased vehicle values, something Subaru should pay for.

The Subaru engine tuning lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey - Cheryl Sauer, et al., vs. Subaru of America, Inc.

The plaintiff is represented by DeNittis Osefchen Prince, P.C., and the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman. has complaints about the Subaru Forester, Subaru WRX and Subaru WRX STI.


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