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Subaru recalls Forester over child seatbelt risks

The good people at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have announced a recall of select Subaru Forester models from the past 4 years over a concern that the rear center seatbelt assembly may be faulty – increasing the risk of injury to a child in the event of an accident.

According to the NHTSA, this new Subaru Forester seatbelt recall pertains to select 2009 through 2012 model year vehicles that were built between November 26th 2007 and March 13th 2012 with a total of 275,000 vehicles affected.

In these Subaru Foresters being recall, the “automatic locking retractor” portion of the seatbelt assembly for the center rear seating position “does not meet lockability requirements” and this does not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standard #208 relating occupant crash protection. While that wordy, legal sounding explanation doesn’t give much idea as to exactly what is going wrong with the Forester’s rear safety belts, the NHTSA announcement goes on to explain that this failure of the seatbelt mechanism may not allow a parent to attach a child restraint correctly. Should a child be fastened into that seating position and the vehicle is involved in an accident – the restraint system may not be able to perform as intended and the child stands a greater chance of injury.

Luckily, the seatbelt failure itself that is causing the recall of the 2009-2012 Subaru Forester does not pose any risk to the driver, other passengers or others on the road but with a risk to a child’s safety in the event of an accident, the NHTSA has made the call to get these 275,000 Subaru wagons back to the dealerships for repairs. There have been no reported injuries stemming from this recall issue.

The recall of the 2009-2012 Subaru Forester is set to formally begin on or before April 13th 2012, at which points owners will be asked to return to their local Subaru dealership where a technician will replace the rear central seatbelt assembly with one that has a properly functioning automatic locking retractor. These services will be provided free of charge.

In the meantime, owners of the 2009-2012 Subaru Forester with children can make sure not to use the rear centered seating position to avoid any increased risk while driving. Owners who want to know more before the recall officially begins next month can call Subaru at 1-800-782-2783 in reference to recall number WQA-37.