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Subaru recalls 660,238 cars over brake line corrosion

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Subaru is issuing a recall for more than 660,000 vehicles after discovering a problem with the brake lines. Extended exposure to salt water can corrode certain exposed sections.

When the cars are driven on streets where road salt is used, salt water can be kicked up and can get through a gap in the fuel tank protector. Over the course of several years, this can corrode areas of the brake line where there are gaps in the resin cover. The issue was discovered during two rounds of corrosion testing by Subaru.

The first tests were conducted in 2011 and 2012, and eventually led to a recall of 215,000 vehicles in 2013. Additional testing in 2013 and 2014 showed that the problem was more extensive than initially believed, and more vehicles, including some that were part of the last recall, are being brought in for repairs. Subaru found that the corrosion was significant enough to lead to a leak in the brake line after seven or more years. However, no accidents have been linked to the problem so far.

"Since the center and rear brake lines work independently of one another, braking will still be possible if either (but not both) of the systems fail," says Subaru in its report [pdf] to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "The driver will be alerted to a fault in the brake system via illumination of the brake system warning telltale lamp because the fluid level will drop in the system. Failure of either the center or rear brake lines might cause the driver to misjudge the amount of brake pedal travel required to achieve the desired stopping distance."

The recall has been issued for the 2005-2009 Legacy and Outback, 2009-2013 Forrester, 2008-2011 Impreza and 2008-2014 Impreza WRX. Subaru is only recalling cars that have been registered in one of the 20 states that use large amounts of road salt during winter, as well as Washington D.C. The affected states are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Subaru will replace any corroded brake lines. Both replacement and uncorroded brake lines will be treated with a wax coating to protect from further issues. Owners who paid for a related repair will be reimbursed, and those with affected vehicles outside the states in which they are being recalled may have a free inspection and repair conducted at a Subaru dealership.

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