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When Remote Start Technology = Zombie Subarus

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Stars of Pleiades on 2012 Impreza

If your car has this logo, it might come to life all on its own and kill you. It’s not at all likely, but hey, it could happen in the worst possible combination of circumstances. A recall aims to stop the possible zombie-like behavior of Subarus equipped with remote start. (Photo courtesy Subaru of America.)

You’ve probably heard about “Zombie Subarus” that start on their own. They’re being recalled by the automaker.

Waitaminit– ZOMBIE SUBARUS?!?

According to Automotive News (subscription may be required), Subaru is recalling nearly 50,000 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Legacy and Outback models, 2012 and 2013 Impreza models, and 2013 XV Crosstrek models to fix a defect that could see cars equipped with remote start come to life even when the start button on the key fob is not pressed.

Quoting the article:

If the remote starter key fob is dropped, it may start the engine without the ignition button on the fob being pressed, according to NHTSA documents. The engine may start and run for up to 15 minutes, and may continue to start and stop until the fob battery is depleted or until the vehicle runs out of gas.

Of course, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real risk of this “Zombie Subaru” syndrome, particularly if the zombified car is parked in an enclosed garage attached to a home. So far, there have been no reports of injury or death related to the faulty remote start systems.
All of the cars involved in the recall have automatic or CVT transmissions. The recall only affects cars that have Subaru of America remote starter kits installed, not OEM keyless entry fobs integrated onto the car keys, the article said. It also said the defect does not pose any risk while driving because remote starting is disabled once the key is used to start the vehicle.
The recall is expected to start in late April. All replacements of the faulty remote starter fobs will be performed by Subaru dealer service departments free of charge.
In the meantime, go out and check to see your car’s not running before you hit the sack, okay?
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