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Subaru restarts Japan plant after defect forced shutdown

Forester, XV and Impreza still face potential recall

Subaru suspended operations at its Gunma plant from Jan. 16 until Monday to address a power-steering defect. (Photo by Ryo Asayama)

TOKYO -- Subaru resumed production Monday at its sole Japanese plant after correcting a defect in the steering wheel that forced a nearly two-week shutdown.

The Tokyo-based automaker first suspended operations on Jan. 16 after discovering problems with the power steering in the Forester and XV sport utility vehicles, as well as the Impreza compact. Because of a flaw with electrical boards, a warning light on the dashboard would turn on upon ignition, and the steering wheel would become harder to operate.

The carmaker said Monday it has secured a remedy for the problem and confirmed its safety. The faulty parts were produced by Hitachi subsidiary Hitachi Automotive Systems. 

The Gunma Prefecture plant, located north of Tokyo, accounts for about 60% of Subaru's global production. The factory started up during the morning hours, but production did not officially resume until the afternoon because the equipment needed to warm up following the lengthy closure.

Subaru is still looking into the need for a recall given that some vehicles with the defective parts might have already entered the market. The components were installed in autos manufactured between late December  and Jan. 16. The company will make a decision once it has ascertained the number of suspect deliveries and other details.

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