• Recall impacts 275,000 Foresters
  • Problem with seatbelts prevents proper installation of child seats
  • Affected owners will be notified starting April 13

Subaru is recalling 275,000 Forester models built from 2009-2012 due to an issue with the compact SUV's seatbelts. The problem could prevent drivers from being able to properly install a child safety seat.

According to the NHTSA, the automatic locking retractor located in the rear center seatbelt mechanism doesn't meet federal standards. As a result, the seatbelt mechanism may prevent proper installation of a child safety seat in the rear center seating position. While that may not be a problem for most drivers, the government agency points out that improper installation of a child seat could increase a child's risk of injury during a crash.

Subaru has not yet received any reports of injuries or accidents caused by the issue, which was discovered by its own internal testing. Subaru says the recall applies only to the Forester's rear center seating position and notes that belts on the other rear seats have no known issues.

Subaru will begin mailing recall notices to owners of affected Forester models on April 13. The automaker says the notices will urge owners to visit a Subaru dealership, where the rear central seatbelt assembly will be replaced with a modified version that meets federal requirements. Forester owners with concerns about the recall can call Subaru directly at 1-800-782-2783 or reach the NHTSA's recall hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

The recall applies specifically to the third generation Forester, which made its debut for the 2009 model year. With more than 76,000 sales last year, the Forester remains popular with buyers who choose the compact SUV due to its standard all-wheel drive and fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine. With a starting price of around $21,000 including destination, the Forester's rivals include other popular compact SUVs like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue.

What it means to you: If you own a 2009-2012 Forester, don't be surprised to see a recall notice in the mail.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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