Subaru’s Alleged Secret: Unintended Acceleration

SEATTLE — A 2016 Subaru Outback smashed in Shoreline. “It was life or death for me. I mean, it happened that fast,” said Karen Karna of Lynnwood.

In Arizona Ron Pepe’s shop was annihilated when he says his Subaru decided to accelerate on its own. His wife, Theresa Rawls says she never hit the gas,  “I’m waiting for my garage door to go up and it took off.”

Another 2016 Forester’s was mangled in Massachusetts, the driver had to be cut out of the car. “I know that it was an unintended acceleration. It was such force,” said Cheryl Boucher.

All three drivers blame Subaru for the crashes.

Cheryl and a dozen others are suing Subaru. The 2020 potential class action lawsuit claims the automaker…

“…knew that the Class Vehicles contain one or more defects that cause sudden and unintended acceleration without driver input.”

Attorney for the class action Russell Paul says Subaru has known about the defect.  “We have alleged Subaru has known since 2011 of this issue, and they’ve known it from complaints by customers directly to Subaru and to its dealers, as well as an information passed on from Subaru prerelease testing.”

The Subaru’s listed in the lawsuit represent more than 144,000 vehicles currently on Washington’s roadways.

According to the Department of Licensing there are more than 72,300 2012 to 2020 Subaru Foresters registered, about 57,600 2015 to 2020 Subaru Outbacks and more than 14,000+ 2015 to 2020 Subaru Legacys.

We asked Russell Paul if he believes Subaru has known all along.  “We allege they have,” said Russell.

In the case of Karen Karna’s 2016 Outback, her simple trip to the nursery quickly turned into terror.

“I thought, what’s going on? What’s wrong with my car? I have no control.”  She says the gas pedal “grabbed hold” and slammed to the floor. It sent her head on into a trailer.

“I could see was what was coming in front of me and what decisions I had to make from killing somebody or killing myself or injuring myself or somebody,” said Karen.

Her sternum was cracked in the crash.  “We’d been married 58 years. It’s okay. She could have died,” said her husband, Duane.

The lawsuit says there were more than 150 complaints filed to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration about “Sudden Unintended Acceleration.”

In a statement a spokesman for Subaru says:

“Subaru of America takes safety very seriously, and we are not aware of a single confirmed case of unintended acceleration in a Subaru vehicle.”

“When reviewing cases with Event Data Recorder (EDR) data, the results invariably show that the vehicle driver pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal.”

Russell Paul is disputing this claim. “We’ve spoken to many, many of the class members. You’ve heard them testify, ponder over their experiences, and we’d analyze their crash data. And we’ve also created a simulation of all of the incidents that occurred. We believe they are clear, clear expressions of unintended acceleration.”

After the Karna’s crash they filed this complaint with the Attorney General’s Office who then notified their dealer.

We checked to see where the car is now. A search on Carfax showed it had been recently registered to an address in Federal Way.  We let the new owner know what we found, an also told Duane and Karen.

“What happened to me could happen to them,” said a dismayed Karen.  According to Cheryl Boucher of Massachusetts, her Forrester had one other instance of unintended acceleration before her car was totaled from a second instance.

The question is, were any repairs made to the accelerator or any other similar systems? We do not know. If you feel there’s a problem with your car, have it looked at by a mechanic.