— A Subaru Forester passenger airbag investigation is closed following at least 1,440 complaints and 11,672 warranty claims about airbags that malfunctioned in 2015-2018 Forester SUVs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened the Subaru investigation to investigate 51 complaints related to front passenger seat occupant detection systems.
Forester SUVs use capacitive-type detection systems to classify occupants as full-size, small stature, children or as other objects. Owners complain the occupant detection systems fail to properly classify who or what is in the passenger seats.
This causes the the airbag warning lights to illuminate because the airbags are deactivated, even when adults are in the seats.
Subaru sent NHTSA information about passenger airbag occupant detection system harnesses on more than 360,000 model year 2015-2018 Foresters equipped with heated seats.
Subaru said a decrease in contact pressure between the terminals of the detection system sensor mat harness caused an unstable electrical connection. This allegedly is what causes deactivation of the passenger frontal airbags.
The automaker traced the vehicles as those built between January 20, 2015, and August 1, 2017. In addition, 99% of affected 2015-2018 Foresters were equipped with seat heaters.
NHTSA also determined 1,440 complaints and 11,672 warranty claims involved Foresters with seat heaters.
Subaru issued a recall of 2015-2018 Foresters in October 2019 for dealerships to replace the sensor mat harnesses with new parts and possibly new seat cushion assemblies.
Based on Subaru's recall of 366,282 Foresters, NHTSA has closed the investigation without taking further action, but CarComplaints.com will update our website if anything changes.