Subaru Issues Recall for BRZ; Government Legalese is Confusing

By Jason Davis | June 12, 2012
Subaru recalled 1886 BRZ sports cars this morning. There’s not really much to worry about. Subaru will contact owners and remedy the non-operational error free of charge beginning June 2012. What is the issue? We heard grumblings last week when we reported that the BRZ’s sister, the 2013 Scion FR-S, was expected to be recalled for a non-operational issue. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what the issue is—except that something in the owner’s manual needs to be clarified.
It’s never good practice to make light of recall stories. When safety is involved, especially as it pertains to information that's valuable to concerned consumers, it’s best to present the information in as straight a manner and tone as possible. But that doesn’t work here. Yes, two brand new cars are being recalled for vague and not-specific reasons and the governmental agency that purports to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes” has little more to say about it than, “The owner’s manual contains an inaccurate description of the actual operation of the front passenger occupant classification system.” OK, so a misprint? The NHTSA recall says that the BRZ fails to “comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, ‘Occupant Crash Protection.’” So I looked up FMVSS No. 208 and I found 52,000 words written in indecipherable legalese. After that, I didn’t know where to begin, so I checked the glove compartment of our sister magazine’s (Motor Trend) short term BRZ. That car didn’t have an owner’s manual and I’m currently awaiting word from media contacts at both Scion and Subaru. Hopefully they can help clarify. In the meantime, you can be confident that your Subaru BRZ or Scion FR-S, a car that we positively adore, is safe. If you are concerned about a textual or pictorial error describing the airbag system in question, you can contact the NHTSA under campaign ID number 12V254000 at (888) 327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153) or, or Subaru recall campaign number WQB-38 at (800) 782-2783. Source: NHTSA