Is Your Subaru a Self-Starter?

Subaru logoCars that suddenly start themselves might sound like something out of a novel by Stephen King. Its a creepy concept! Your car, a man made object that definitely is not sentient, somehow develops the ability to start itself and run its engine via unknown means. This is the type of thing one expects to see in scary movies, not in real life.

Yet, that is exactly what has happened. Subaru is recalling 47,419 vehicles in the United States that have become “self-starters”. The recall affects some Legacy and Outback cars from the model years 2010 through 2013. It also affects Impreza sedans from 2012 through 2013 and XV Crosstrek crossover vehicles from 2013. This information comes to me from Reuters, who got it from documents filed from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How are these vehicles able to start themselves? The answer has nothing to do with magic or the supernatural. Instead, it is due to an unexpected quirk in the remote starter key fob. Dropping the key fob can result the vehicle’s engine starting – even if the ignition button on the fob was not pressed. The engine can then run for up to 15 minutes. It is also reported that the vehicle can continue to start, and stop, all by itself until either the battery in the key fob dies or the vehicle finally runs out of gas.

If you are the owner of one of these creepy vehicles that has gained the ability to start itself, you should be getting a letter from Subaru shortly. They will replace the remote starter fob at no charge. The recall only affects vehicles in which Subaru of America remote starter accessory kits have been installed. The recall will begin in April.

When I think about the key fobs that let drivers start their vehicles remotely, it makes me think of convenience. It lets a person warm up his or her car before they have to get in and drive to work. After learning about the Subaru recall, I’m going to be wondering how many “zombie” vehicles were out there, spontaneously starting themselves, in the wee hours of the night.