Update: We need to clarify that this is a proposed class action settlement. It still requires preliminary approval by the court, notice going out to all of the class members, and then another determination by the court that it warrants final approval. All in all, it could take several months for the process to play out, and no one is entitled to benefits yet. Stay tuned.
On Friday, Subaru of America (SOA) settled the class-action lawsuit filed against the automaker in December 2018 involving the Starlink informant system. Attorneys representing the case from Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP sent Torque News documents of the class-action settlement and agreement between SOA and the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleged the Subaru Starlink infotainment systems on certain 2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Crosstrek, 2017-2018 Impreza, 2018 Legacy, and 2018 BRZ would “freeze and malfunction because the head units fail, and updates offered by the automaker have allegedly failed to fix the systems.”
The Starlink systems consist of Harman Gen 3 audio and navigation head units, and the lawsuit alleged it's the head units that create safety concerns for Subaru drivers. Owners have been experiencing 10 problems with the Starlink infotainment system.
In addition to the backup camera freezing/or shutdowns, there has also been loss of audio functions, complete system lockup, display shutoff, inability to shut radio/audio off or turn high volume level down when backing up, radio comes on at high volume when the car is turned on, smartphone favorites aren’t saved, audio/radio functioning is erratic, touchscreen controls are unresponsive, and Bluetooth connectivity issues.
What the settlement means for you
The proposed settlement class is comprised of all individuals in the U.S. who purchased or leased a 2017-2018 Subaru Impreza, 2018 Outback, 2018 Legacy, 2018 Crosstrek, or 2018 BRZ. The proposed settlement provides benefits for the class estimated at over $6.25 million. This includes, among other benefits, an extended warranty covering the Starlink systems on all affected vehicles.
The plaintiffs receive compensation
Even though Subaru of America has denied any wrongdoing in the case, they have reached a settlement and have agreed to pay “service awards” of $3,500 to the seven plaintiffs (Chad Udeen, Mary Jane Jeffrey, Lydia Runkel, Michael Block, Gary Gilpin, Alicia Smith, and Susan Williams). All Subaru owners affected will be entitled to receive cash compensation on a claims-made basis based on the number of visits made to the dealer complaining about a Starlink malfunction.
If class members made 2 visits, you can receive an additional $150, and if you made 3 or more visits you receive $300. As an alternative to the dealer visit compensation, owners can opt to receive two separate $100 coupons redeemable for Subaru merchandise, or a $400 credit towards the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle.
Other compensation includes $16.00 for each day class members waited to receive a replacement Starlink head unit, rental car expenses insured while their vehicle was in the service department getting the new unit, and ride-hailing expenses for out-of-pocket expenses for engaging a ride to travel to the dealer during the backorder period. Subaru of America has also agreed to pay plaintiff’s attorney fees associated with the case.
What owners can do
If you are experiencing problems with your Subaru Starlink system, the equipment is covered under the 3-Year/36,000-Mile Subaru Limited Warranty. Take your vehicle into a Subaru dealer and document your conversation and get written proof of your complaint with each visit.
2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Crosstrek, 2017-2018 Impreza, 2018 Legacy and 2018 BRZ owners with Starlink problems can check on any current Subaru recalls for your vehicle. If you would like more information on the case, you can go here.
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Photo credit: Subaru