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Subaru Recalling Nearly 50,000 “Zombie” Cars That Start on Their Own

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Subaru Legacy 2013

Subaru Legacy 2013.

An article appearing on starts off this way: “Talk about ghostly: Your Subaru could be starting its engine when you don’t even know about it.”

The article, by Chris Woodyard for USA TODAY and Jennifer Geiger for, says that Subaru is recalling 47,419 vehicles from model years 2010 to 2013 because if you drop the key fob with a built-in remote starter, the car can start without your intending it to. After it starts the car, the engine shuts off, and the process can keep repeating.

Aaron Smith, who refers to them in his CNN piece as “zombie cars,” writes in a tongue-in-cheek way that the defect “does not seem to be paranormal.” But Smith quotes from a Subaru letter, which warns that the matter is serious:

‘The engine may inadvertently start and run for up to 15 minutes,’ the letter said. ‘The engine may continue to start and stop until the fob battery is depleted, or until the vehicle runs out of fuel. If the vehicle is parked in an enclosed area, there is a risk of carbon monoxide build-up which may cause asphyxiation.’

USA TODAY reports that the problem seems to be limited to only one type of remote starting device, the Audiovox remote engine starter accessory that comes with automatic transmissions.

Remote starting, notes, has become especially popular in cold-climate regions, where car owners use the remote control key fobs to warm up the cars before getting into them.

The recall, which covers 2010 to 2013 Outback and Legacys, 2012 and 2013 Imprezas, and 2013 XV Crosstreks, will begin at the end of April, when dealers will replace the faulty key fobs for free. But there is a fast solution meanwhile, writes: “Switch to the keyless entry fobs integrated into the vehicle key that came with the new car. They are not affected.”

According to Wikipedia, “Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster (M45, or “The Seven Sisters”), which in turn inspires the Subaru logo and alludes to the companies that merged to create FHI.


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