Subaru has announced a recall of 5369 Subaru Impreza and XV models because of an issue with the starter motor pinion gear.

SUBARU AUSTRALIA has announced it’s recalling 5369 Subaru Impreza and XV models because of an issue with the starter motor pinion gear. According to Subaru it could become damaged “due to an unusual start-up procedure”.

“The damage may lead to pinion gear failure, which may cause the engine not to start (or re-start when in Automatic Stop Start mode) and may pose a potential hazard to the driver and other road users.”

Practical Motoring spoke to Subaru Australia which said, once the car has been delivered to the service centre for checking, “If no abnormal noise is detected, a PAK (computer) file will be downloaded into the Engine Control Unit to reduce the likelihood of starter motor pinion gear damage. If an abnormal noise is detected, the starter motor and possibly the torque convertor will require replacement, together with installation of the PAK file.”

Subaru said it has contacted owners and will advise when parts become available. All recall work will be performed free of charge.

So, what’s a starter motor pinion gear and why’s it so important? The electric starter motor is what kicks over your car’s engine when you turn the key in the ignition. And the shaft of the starter motor carries a small gear wheel, or pinion that engages with a gear ring around the outside of the engine flywheel.

What happens is that when you turn the key it activates a current via the battery which in turn activities the starter motor which cranks the engine, once the car is started and the key returns to RUN position the starter motor disengages; you don’t want it operating for longer than absolutely possible as it can easily flatten a battery.

The pinion gear is engaged via two methods, either the inertia method or the pre-engaged method, with the inertia method the pinion gear isn’t fixed to the shaft but instead can spin along the shaft like a nut along the thread of a bolt, without getting too technical, the pinion spins along the shaft until the engine starts and is then spun back by the engine until it’s disengaged; there’s usually a heavy-duty spring to cushion its impact agains the starter motor.

With a pre-engaged starter motor, once the engine has been started power to the starter motor is cut off and the pinion gear and shaft retracts via return springs.

If the starter motor stays engaged then it’ll be spun so fast by the engine it could become damaged to the point where it won’t either disengage or reengage.

If anyone owns a 2015 Impreza or XV and is having starting issues, let us know by leaving a comment below.


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1 comment

  1. I took my 2015 XV in for the recall which was done while I waited – under an hour.

    I noticed straight away it was driving very different – not as smooth. Previous was a gliding feeling and was magic to drive. Now is very ordinary – kind of a rough feeling.
    My son and husband also noticed the difference. Naturally I took it back to Tom Kerr Auto in Gladesville the next day to complain. They re booted the computer but is exactly the same.
    Very disappointing as I no longer have that driving experience I had prior to the recall.
    Wondering if anyone else had this occur?
    Contact is Cheers Maree

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