A proposed class action alleges the low-pressure Denso fuel pump found in some of Subaru’s most popular vehicle models can cause an engine to unexpectedly stall and shut down in the course of normal use, presenting a significant safety risk for cars advertised as safe and reliable.
The 45-page complaint against Subaru Corporation and Subaru of America claims the Denso low-pressure fuel pump found in the automaker’s Ascent, Impreza, Legacy and Outback models can cause unpredictable acceleration and engine stalls, rendering affected vehicles unsafe to operate. According to the lawsuit, Subaru possessed knowledge of the fuel pump issue yet failed to fully disclose the defect and its corresponding dangers to drivers, and has yet to repair or replace the faulty component while continuing to sell affected vehicle models.
Affected Subarus are equipped with a Denso low-pressure fuel pump and assembly affixed with part number prefix 42022-, the case says, noting that the automaker in April 2020 initiated a voluntary recallof 188,000 2019 model year Impreza, Outback, Legacy and Ascent vehicles in the United States.
The suit alleges, however, that the low-pressure fuel pump defect afflicts more vehicles than merely those recalled earlier this year by Subaru. Per the lawsuit, complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evidence that the alleged defect has existed in Subaru vehicles “since at least 2013” and continues to the present day.
Subaru models stricken with faulty low-pressure fuel pumps are not only less safe but less valuable than what buyers and lessees paid, the case says, in particular given drivers are left to shoulder the economic burden stemming from repairs and replacements. The plaintiff asserts neither he nor other proposed class members would have bought or leased their Subarus, or would have paid as much for the cars, had the automaker disclosed the fuel pump problem.
According to the case, the fuel system found in affected Subaru models relies on two pumps to supply the engine with fuel—a low-pressure, in-tank pump and a high-pressure, in-line pump. The low-pressure fuel pump, mounted inside a gas tank, utilizes an impeller, a plastic rotating disk that draws in fuel and impels it up through the pump, to push fuel to a car’s fuel injection system, per the complaint.
Subaru’s April 2020 safety recall centered on the fact that the impeller used by the low-pressure fuel pumps was manufactured with lower density, meaning the component could develop fine cracks if it were to be exposed to solvent drying for longer periods of time, the suit explains. Those cracks can cause excessive fuel absorption and ultimately impeller deformation to the extent that it may cause the low-pressure fuel pump to become inoperative, the lawsuit says.
The case looks to cover a nationwide class, or an alternative California-only subclass, of drivers who owned and/or leased a Subaru vehicle with a Denso low-pressure fuel pump, including with the part number prefix 42022-. The lawsuit echoes cases filed this year that allege hundreds of thousands of Toyota and Lexus vehicle models are plagued by the same Denso low-pressure fuel pump issue.
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