— A Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander PHEV recall has been ordered for 177,000 SUVs because the second-row center seat belt buckles may interfere with the right-side seat belt buckles when the seatbacks are folded down.
The right-side seat belt buckle cover may come off and leave the buckle latch inoperable and unable to restrain an occupant.
Recalled are 2014-2019 Outlander and 2018-2019 Outlander PHEV SUVs that will need to be brought to dealerships once the recall begins September 11, 2020.
Mitsubishi says if the process in the owner's manuals isn't followed properly when folding the left-hand seatback, the center seat belt buckle can collide with the right-hand and cause the seat belt buckle to detach.
The automaker received a report nearly eight years ago from Europe concerning a right-side seat belt that failed. Engineers found the seat belt buckle cover had been broken but a root cause wasn't found for the problem.
From August 2013 to June 2016, Mitsubishi received 29 field reports about busted seat belt buckle covers and collected the affected parts, but engineers still couldn't find what caused the problems.
From July 2016 to June 2018, another 22 field reports were received and the investigation finally indicated the seat belt buckle damage could be caused by folding the second-row right-hand seatback without following the instructions in the owner’s manuals.
However, Mitsubishi concluded it wasn't an "unreasonable risk to safety" and countermeasures were implemented into production.
Because the seat belt buckle cover wasn't considered a risk to safety, Mitsubishi sent dealers a technical service bulletin (TSB-19-52A-005) in December 2019. But in March 2020 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted the automaker about the TSB.
Mitsubishi continued with investigations and based on talks with NHTSA, it was decided a recall was needed.
Mitsubishi dealerships will perform the following actions on 2014-2019 Outlander and 2018-2019 Outlander PHEV SUVs.
- The upper portion of the resin boot on the center seat belt buckle will be trimmed and removed.
- An additional warning label will be attached to the second-row seat support base.
- An additional warning label insert will be provided for the owner’s manuals.
Outlander owners may call 888-648-7820. Mitsubishi's number for this recall is SR-20-004.
Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander PHEV owners may already be familiar with seat belt-related troubles on their SUVs considering the automaker issued a recall in May for seat belt failures.