Japanese Subaru Plant Re-Opens after Twelve-Day Shutdown Tied to Steering Defect

The factory was originally closed due to a possible power steering defect on JDM Impreza, Forester, and XV models.

via Getty Images

This morning, Subaru announced that it has re-opened its manufacturing plant in Gunma, Japan after shuttering the facility for 12 days. The company had previously halted production and shipping at the Gunma line on Jan. 16 due to defective electric power steering units that had reportedly been installed on Japanese-market Impreza, Forester, and XV Crosstrek models.

The Gunma plant produced the potentially defective cars from late December until the shutdown. Subaru states that the defect could cause affected vehicles to suddenly lose power steering and addressed the issue by blocking registration of the recently produced models in Japan. If Subaru owners experience malfunctioning power steering, the company advises them to "contact [their] nearest Subaru dealer immediately and have the vehicle checked."

The manufacturer also states that the problem parts were only installed on Japanese domestic cars, and that models exported to the U.S. and other foreign markets should be free of any issues. Since identifying the defect, Subaru has sourced updated power steering units to be installed on cars produced just before the shutdown. The Gunma factory is now being used to repair the possibly defective vehicles, and has also resumed production on other non-affected models.

Back in October of 2017, a Japanese government investigation found that vehicle inspections at the Gunma plant were being carried out by employees that hadn't been properly trained or certified. Since that incident, Subaru has conducted audits on its Japanese factories, and made sure that cars going forward are inspected thoroughly by qualified workers to meet government standards. The company also recently recalled over 400,000 Imprezas, BRZs, and Toyota 86s manufactured between 2012 and 2013 for the possible installation of faulty valve-springs in the cars' flat-four engines.

The Drive has contacted Subaru for an estimate on the number of affected cars, if any made their way to dealers, and whether or not Subaru has put out a recall in response to the problem. We will update the story when more details become available.