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What The New Outback Recall Says About Subaru Quality

The 2021 Subaru Outback and Impreza just had a new recall. See what it says about Subaru quality.


Torque News reported last week, Subaru and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall for the 2021 Subaru Outback and 2021 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback models. The NHTSA says both models are recalled for a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) shifter lever cable nut that may not be adequately tightened.

The NHTSA report says if the CVT select lever cable nut was not properly torqued and loses retention, the gear select may not function properly. If the gear selector does not work correctly, there is an increased risk of a crash.

2021 Subaru Outback, features, specs, pricing
Photo credit: Schumacher Subaru of West Palm Beach

What is the problem?

The report says 314 new Outback cars and 69 Impreza models are affected. The production dates are from December 11, 2020, through December 18, 2020. The percentage of vehicles with the defect is about 40 percent.

Subaru says a single assembly line worker assigned to a specific production line working between the production dates specified (12/14/2020 – 12/21/2020) was found to be using an improper torque wrench technique. All vehicles potentially affected by this one employee are included in the recall.

2021 Subaru Outback, features, specs, pricing
Photo credit: Schumacher Subaru of West Palm Beach

The shift lever nut in question is located on the end of the select lever cable on the vehicle's underside. To access the adjusting nuts, the center exhaust cover needs to be removed. Subaru says the procedure should take about an hour to complete.

What does the new 2021 Outback recall say about Subaru quality?

Subaru issued the recall because of one employee at Subaru's plant in Lafayette, Indiana who was not paying attention. It's not a quality problem, but either a training issue or putting someone on the line who was not qualified.

Torque News reported Subaru issued only two recalls for the 2020 model year. The 2020 Subaru Outback and the 2020 Legacy sedan. The first recall for the two models was over a year ago, on September 27, 2019. A brake pedal mounting bracket may have had an insufficiently tightened or missing bolt.

As the 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent arrive at retailers, is quality improving? Subaru had one recall in 2020, compared with eighteen recalls in 2019. The latest 2021 Outback and Impreza recall is because of one employee who wasn't paying attention.

What should owners do?

Subaru will notify 2021 Outback and Impreza owners, and retailers will inspect and, if necessary, tighten the nut, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on February 19, 2021. Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614. Subaru's number for this recall is WRA-21.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: tm_subarusalesspecialist Schumacher Subaru of West Palm Beach


Y Abd (not verified)    February 9, 2021 - 1:31AM

This is a poorly written article aimed at trying to make the car company look bad with a misleading title.
"The percentage of vehicles with the defect is about 40 percent." Really?
40% of the few that were produced during that small time period between 12/11 and 12/18. One week.
Way to alienate readers. Now I feel like I will have to double research everything I read on Torque News cause it attempts at manipulation in its title and article. Better off just not reading it.

John Alderhan (not verified)    February 9, 2021 - 7:46AM

So what does it say about their quality?

All you told us is what it is; you didn't answer your own question, nor draw any conclusions.


dana hood (not verified)    February 9, 2021 - 1:43PM

you should be applauding this recall... It's called a 'smart recall'.. Instead of recalling 1000's of cars, suby logs users and their tools and this is really a thing of beauty as someone who builds tracking s/w for a living..

James Murdock (not verified)    February 9, 2021 - 3:17PM

Poor analysis in this article! OF COURSE THIS IS A QUALITY PROBLEM!

"one employee...who was not paying attention" is NOT what NHTSA said. The report says "found to be using an improper torque wrench
technique." and this could mean any of not trained / trained but not confirmed in practice / torque wrench setting confusion / lack of start-of-shift verification of the tool on a torque measurement fixture / lack of posted work instructions / wrong work instructions posted.... the point is, we don't actually know what appropriate quality control mechanism should be in place vs was in place vs complied with.

"It's not a quality problem, but either a training issue or putting someone on the line who was not qualified" makes no sense.
> A "training issue" is a quality problem.
> "Someone not qualified" on the line is a quality problem too!

So, what this "says about Subaru Quality" is there is a process gap somewhere, and it allowed a likely well-meaning employee to engage in a new task and very carefully under-torque every car he/she contributed to. We don't know what this employee's story is, but anyone who is unproven on a new task needs oversight until practice shows perfect.

Dyonysyus (not verified)    February 9, 2021 - 3:19PM

How can you hire someone who writes something like this?
Doesn't anyone review or edit articles or do you just serve up whatever your hack writers vomit up?

jg (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 12:32PM

The more controversial or contentious the article, the more comments, the more Google web analytics hits, the more the article pays. It’s a simple formula.

AR (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 9:30PM

I've bought one that has been recalled in Australia. I'm due to pick it up this week or next. I'm glad it's being checked. I guess that employee won't be around to make any more mistakes.