Subaru is recalling 271,694 Ascent SUVs due to a potential fire hazard caused by electrical connections to the heater. The recall applies to models manufactured between 2019 and 2022.
The issue is with a ground bolt that connects the ground terminal for the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater in the SUV. This is essentially an electric heater that is used to provide heat to the cabin prior to the engine warming up. According to Subaru, the bolt in question may have been installed incorrectly during assembly. When the heater is turned on, this could cause some electrical problems, possibly melting the ground terminal and nearby components. When things get hot enough to melt, there’s a risk of fire, which is why the recall was issued.
According to Subaru, there have been no crashes or injuries as a result of this issue. However, the automaker is aware of a handful of related incidents, including some that resulted in a vehicle fire. Subaru recommends the years 2019-2022. Owners of ascent vehicles should park outside, away from other vehicles and structures, until an inspection – and, if necessary, repairs – can be performed.
In that regard, there is a plan in place to make these repairs. Subaru dealers will inspect the PTC area and replace the ground bolt if necessary. In a small percentage of cases, the ground terminal and connector must also be replaced. Subaru advises Ascent owners to immediately stop the vehicle and turn off the ignition if any smoke or burning smells are detected in the cabin until the inspection is completed.
Owners will be notified by mail within 60 days of this announcement. Concerned Ascent owners can also enter their VIN at https://www.subaru.com/recalls.html to see if their vehicle is included in the recall.
Subaru is far from the only automaker to have experienced fire-related issues recently. Only in the last month have the Nissan Rogue, Ram HD pickup trucks, and a number of Ford SUVs been recalled due to fire hazards. During this time, the Kia Niro Hybrid was also recalled for bad relays installed as part of a recall for a previous relay/fire issue.