Bizarre recall: Subarus mysteriously starting themselves


Talk about ghostly: Your Subaru could be starting its engine when you don’t even know about it.

Subaru is recalling 47,419 vehicles from model years 2010 to 2013 because the key fob with a built-in remote starter can go wacky if it is dropped.

The drop can cause a malfunction that results in the fob remotely turning on the car’s engine and turning it off again when owners aren’t even aware of it (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) The process can keep repeating itself, all with the owner kept in the dark about it.

Remote starting has become a popular option, especially in cold-weather climates where owners want their car interiors to warm up before they begin their chilly morning commutes. All it usually takes is one press of the key-fob button from inside the warm confines of their homes. But in this case, the fob and car have minds of their own.

Because of the malfunction, the engine can turn itself on remotely at random. It won’t stop until the car runs out of gas or the battery in the key fob runs out.

The problem appears confined to only one kind of remote starting device, the Audiovox remote engine starter accessory that comes with automatic transmissions. The recall covers 2010 to 2013 Outbacks and Legacys, 2012 and 2013 Imprezas and 2013 XV Crosstreks.

Until the cars are brought in to dealers under the recall, there’s one fast solution that owners can use. Switch to the key-less entry fobs integrated into the vehicle key that came with the new car. Key-less entry fobs are not affected by this problem.