New Windshields for Subaru: Company Updates Manufacturing Process

After the owners of certain Subaru vehicles have reported their windshields spontaneously cracking for years, Subaru has changed its windshield manufacturing process to correct the alleged problem.

Plaintiffs Jeffrey Barr, Arnold Milstein, Allan Zaback and Brittany Funk filed a lawsuit against Subaru in October 2019, claiming that their windshields cracked randomly. The plaintiffs and Subaru agreed on a settlement in April 2024, though the court has not yet approved it. If approved, the settlement would compensate the current or former owners or lessees of about 1.4 million Subaru vehicles.

A Subaru representative submitted a legal statement supporting the agreed-upon settlement. The statement explained Subaru’s steps toward avoiding similar issues in the future.

According to John Gray, director of field quality in Subaru of America Inc.’s service and quality department, Subaru has found that, in some of the vehicles that qualify for the settlement, “a small chip could grow into a larger crack due to continuous stress on the windshield.”

Gray explained that the warranty claims rate for the approximately 1.4 million vehicles that qualify for the settlement is less than 0.5%.

“Subaru believes that the crack does not present a safety concern,” he said.

He added that Subaru’s engineers found a combination of things that caused this problem. The engineers said a new cowl panel design didn’t leave a gap between the panel and the windshield. They also cited unspecified issues with the windshield manufacturing process. Between the two factors, the windshields could be “more prone to residual tensile stress,” which raises the chances of a delayed fracture if something strikes them.

Subaru’s solution is to replace the allegedly faulty windshields with new ones manufactured using an updated process. Gray said Subaru has already successfully integrated these windshields into the 2023 and beyond years of the models named in the settlement.

“To date, those models have experienced a warranty claims rate of 0.07%,” Gray said.

One of the provisions of the proposed settlement agreement is a “one-time replacement of a pre-counter-measure windshield with a post-counter-measure windshield, at which time the Settlement Extended Warranty shall expire.”

Gray said that Subaru’s revamped windshields and the already low claims rate make that provision an “appropriate solution” to future concerns over windshield breakage.

The descriptions of previous windshield breakage that would qualify Subaru owners for reimbursement will remain redacted in all legal documents from the case until three days after the claim submission deadline. According to a motion filed on May 13, this prevents fraudulent claims.

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