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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple months ago I was driving our new 2012 Subaru Outback. While sitting in a parking lot I lifted off the seat and leaned into it to get my wallet out of my pocket. Unexpectedly the lumbar support clip broke jolting my hips causing instant pain. I have been in pain ever since. I have had about 5 clips break since and alls it takes is a guy to lean back for a short period of time into the seat trusting it and you can break this with a potential injury like what happened to me.
This is a heads up post to anyone who values their backs or the backs of others who may ride in their cars. I warn everyone now that gets in my car about the seat failure.
I told the dealership about it but they acted like it was not a problem ever and no one has ever broke a lumbar support. I talked with the manufacturer and they said the same thing. Subaru broke my back and I have struggled working ever since let alone go about a day without thinking about it.

I have had no support and seen no response to fix the issue. I have broke the lumbar supports 5 times. 1 time was the first time just described. Right after that I leaned back in the passenger seat and broke it. After that I returned the car and the dealership "Fixed" it by bending the clip a little extra for me which ended up breaking on me while driving down the road not even leaning back.

This was in the base model car with base model seats (I thought these where more comfortable as the premium models I could feel the bar in my back)
We returned the original Outback we purchased for a Premium Outback thinking there was electric seats in both passenger and driver sides hoping not to have another failure and I was told the electric seats have a more sturdy design to them. So far it has not broke although I do hear some snapping noises in the seat while driving on occasion like it may be getting ready to break. I later realized after owning the car for a while that the passenger seat i found out was a base model seat which is the defective design clips. I was able to lean back in it and break it as well with ease. I have not been driving the car much myself as I am scared of breaking another seat.

I showed the dealership as well how easy it is to break these clips. I have owned a 1996 Toyota and 1990 Honda civic for years and NEVER once had a seat break in any way on me. I even try to break the lumbar support on my Toyota by leaning back more than i would ever do and not even a budge th seat holds up just fine.
$35,000 I spend for the first time on a new car... and my back is in horrible condition due to it. Buying this Subaru car which is suppose to be #1 in safety sure feels like they turned there backs on the safety of our backs with these Outback’s.
To make a long story short.... My back is in pain, never had back problems before buying a Subaru Outback. I love the car for all its features however the seats scare the life out of me. I am now going to try to return this car as a lemon since I have had no satisfactory response let alone a real response since the incident occurred.

The company is too big to sue for such a small claim as no lawyer will touch it due to the fact it will cost so much to represent and I didnt die from it so... Although I am recoverying slowly my life has been upside down from its norm as I am my only employee for my company and it is hard to put on a full day without feeling it in the evening. And then you got the dealer employees cracking jokes like I am faking it... and it has me irritated that I am even writing this post. I have spent thousands out of my pocket to try to get better with chiropractic help and physical therapy. I also lost money having to exchange the car for the next model up. It has been a real nightmare. I have ran out of patience so I am going public with this incident. I am not going to call another lawyer to have them refer me to someone else that will refer me to someone else... If anyone knows a lawyer willing to represent me in a case against Subaru for such a claim I would love to speak with you! But I believe it will take a class action suit to get this resolved properly. I really dont care for any money, let alone the money I spent to get my back better, I really just want my back to feel like it did before buying this car. I can always make more money, I cant make another back.

We wanted to go on some vacations this summer but due to not working as much and the pain I am in we are just now going to go on a short one but I will be limited in what I can do pain free while on vacation. I really need the R&R after all of this but not working as much as I should be has cause some real stress. My clients are working with me best they can but its hard to grow a company when you are the only employee and you are in pain daily.
I have been very patient and now I am posting my results. I will be posting these incidents on the http://www.nhtsa.gov/ website and https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/index.xhtml website.

If anyone else has a problem like this please dont hesitate to post on these websites as well. I strongly wish this never to happen to anyone else as you dont really feel the pain unless you have gone through what I have been going through. I never realized the back pains that something like being rear ended can cause until now.
I would love to hear about anyone’s stories that relate to this topic of broken lumbar supports in a Subaru Outback’s or any model for that matter. I know I have read a few from 2010 models but this is a 2012 model and so far only involves the base model seats which are in every model I believe as a passenger seat.

This should NEVER have been a problem and I believe it is being neglected by the manufacturer. They saved a few million buying cheaper clips with lower standards I believe or the company is being sabotaged from within to create such problems for Subaru owners. I am trying to understand how this can even be a problem and it has me extremely concerned for the safety of others along with myself, my family and anyone that rides in my car.
I pay for doctor bills out of pocket so this has really set me back in more ways than one. Please post your story here if you have a similar one so we can build awareness about this problem Subaru needs to address immediately. I can imagine going on a long trip and having this break while relaxing in passenger seats as I would be doing while my wife drives. Her back hurt after riding in the passenger seat while we took the car back to the dealer just sitting in the seat with this lumbar support broke like it was. It twists your back. And on our new car the electric seat digs into my back. You don’t feel it while just sitting in it for a moment but if you get relaxed in it driving and your around 200 pounds you will probably feel it. Mine digs into my back at a certain point but dealership says its probably my imagination. I have been trying desperately to give it a benefit of the doubt but it ends up bugging me and making me feel very uncomfortable not long after sitting in the seat… For the amount of pain and discomfort let alone the hassle that came with this car it has caused more problems in our lives than what the car is worth x 100. And if my back does not go back to normal I will live with the regret of ever thinking about buying my wife a new car for her birthday, especially a Subaru. These new cars are being made on the cheap and costing consumers time and money while a manufacturer saves money.

Thank you.
 

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2005 Outback 2.5i - Auto
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Never heard of this problem myself.

I don't want to be rude so please take this with a grain of salt....

Are you very "heavy set"?

With the description of the seat creaking and snapping while driving it kinda sounds like there is a lot of weight in the seat.
 

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Unexpectedly the lumbar support clip broke jolting my hips causing instant pain. I have been in pain ever since.

I have had about 5 clips break since and alls it takes is a guy to lean back for a short period of time into the seat trusting it and you can break this with a potential injury like what happened to me.

I have had no support and seen no response to fix the issue. I have broke the lumbar supports 5 times. 1 time was the first time just described. Right after that I leaned back in the passenger seat and broke it. After that I returned the car and the dealership "Fixed" it by bending the clip a little extra for me which ended up breaking on me while driving down the road not even leaning back.

We returned the original Outback we purchased for a Premium Outback thinking there was electric seats in both passenger and driver sideshoping not to have another failure and I was told the electric seats have a more sturdy design to them.

I was able to lean back in it and break it as well with ease. I have not been driving the car much myself as I am scared of breaking another seat.


Her back hurt after riding in the passenger seat while we took the car back to the dealer just sitting in the seat with this lumbar support broke like it was.

It twists your back.

And on our new car the electric seat digs into my back. You don’t feel it while just sitting in it for a moment but if you get relaxed in it driving and your around 200 pounds you will probably feel it. Mine digs into my back at a certain point but dealership says its probably my imagination.
I don't mean to be rude either but I don't understand. I don't think this a is a weight issue, but it might be a describing issue.

Where is the "clip?"

I'm really confused how it is possible to "break a clip in the lumbar." I think your wording might be off or the word you are using to describe the part might be incorrect. Where is the pain in your back, upper? lower? Where on the seat is the clip, do you have a picture to help with better understanding? Can you circle the area on a current outback picture? PM me if you need help in that area.

The passenger side doesn't even have a lumbar adjustment unless you paid extra for it. The base has manual adjustments and the premium has 10 way power for the driver unless you paid extra for the passenger too.

I think I can say with confidence you are the first person I've seen on here talk about this.
 

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Just out of curiosity, what pocket was your wallet in - front or back?
I'm trying to picture what sort of position you'd be in where you 'lift off the seat' and are 'leaned into it'. To me it sounds like you'd have to have your feet planted, and your back arched in a rather awkward way with a lot of force pressed against the seat back.
 

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Just out of curiosity, what pocket was your wallet in - front or back?
I'm trying to picture what sort of position you'd be in where you 'lift off the seat' and are 'leaned into it'. To me it sounds like you'd have to have your feet planted, and your back arched in a rather awkward way with a lot of force pressed against the seat back.
This is what I was trying to get at. If I was going for my back pocket I would not be making contact with the Lumbar at all...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just out of curiosity, what pocket was your wallet in - front or back?
I'm trying to picture what sort of position you'd be in where you 'lift off the seat' and are 'leaned into it'. To me it sounds like you'd have to have your feet planted, and your back arched in a rather awkward way with a lot of force pressed against the seat back.
I am tall 6'6" and usually between 220-240lbs. I am actually more on the skinny side. Since this happened I have been laying down a lot over 3 months now and not as active so I have gained the most weight ever as I am now about 240lbs but Usually I am closer to 220-230. Never until now have I seen myself at 240 but I feel this is probably closer to the weight I should be actually for my height.

If you want to imagine it... there is another post that talks about how a guy lifted himself off the seat to adjust a towel and the support broke.

The third time I was just simply driving down the road I didnt lift myself at all.

If there is a weight or size limit it should be posted on the seat or in the manual to avoid injury!

Again I have NEVER had a seat break on me before and I have owned a number of Japanese cars for years. And American cars as well... never once had a seat break and before this incident I never even knew what a Lumbar support was until I returned it to the dealer and the sales people said thats what broke.

Here are some links to similar issues on similar makes/models I have researched since after the incident:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/28964-broken-seat-lumbar.html




http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/37132-2010-subaru-outback-lumbar-support-fix.html

Sorry to have to post this story I am just frustrated and the pain is hard to deal with at times more than others. Again never had a back problem prior to this incident... I have been asking God to help heal me daily so I can go back to normal activity. I am tired of going to a chiropractor and tired of the problems that came with the return of the first car to the discomforts and problems with the second one's seats.

I have had about 20 law firms say "I have a Case but we wont represent you". I have not gave up as I am now going public with this on my own with the hope that others may be experiencing the same problem and they are as computer savy as I am to research this issue further.

I am sure if you are 100 lbs you probably have not had this happen right off the bat but from what I have felt from my experience they will break over time expecially if you have someone over 200 lbs in your car.

The seat should handle someone 400lbs without breaking to ensure the safety of anyone who may get in the seat for a ride in my opinion.

Check out the youtube video of the guy fixing his clip on the electric seat... it somewhat cracks me up that he even has to do it and how he goes about doing it. Funny how cheap a company can get on something like a seat. The video shows a picture of a broken clip and should shine light on the problem I have.

Again I leaned back trusting this seat, and I raise my but to get my keys out my pocket because usually they are under my leg... wallet, keys, move a towel from under your butt... can result in a broken lumbar support clip.

So far again it has been only "base model" seats which are in every car as a passenger seat. Dont believe me set the seat back and sit on it for 5 minutes (like if you where laying down at a rest area or passenger) It only took about 5 seconds or less for me... The clips get weaker as time goes by and depending on how much you lean back will determine how long the clips hold.

I do NOT sit in my passenger seat and ride with extreme caution while driving. The seat with electric drivers side digs into my back above the lumbar support on the left side. I am sure it digs into other peoples back in other ways as well. That was the reason I went with the base model car to begin with... for its seats. I liked how they felt due to no feeling of a bar in my back while leaning back thinking of long trips I wanted to take.

Obviously no one here 4x4's their 2012 outbacks because i am sure you would of broke a clip by now... very poor design, I feel like taking it apart and putting a chain link in it. I am sure I can design a better seat and I am going to try to use the lemon law to return it and go buy something else... or trade it in for another brand as I am not impressed with how Subaru has responded to this problem or to my back problem that resulted from their poor design flaw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is what I was trying to get at. If I was going for my back pocket I would not be making contact with the Lumbar at all...
If you reach for your wallet in your pants front or rear pocket you will more than likely lift yourself off the seat and lean forward am I correct?

What part of the seat would you use? I suppose you could use the top of the seat all depending on who you are... like you might put the pressure on the head rest I suppose I have no clue as what is your weight and size?

Maybe it is my height that made me lean forward while diggin into my pockets as my front pockets allow keys or whatever I have to go under my leg as I usually have Kahki dress pants on.

And for illistration purpose one more time I had my foot pushing against the foot rest on the floor and my butt up against the back of seat maybe 2-3 inches up off the seat like I always have done for 20 years now... never once a problem like this, especially one resulting in injury to my back.

I usually always keep my wallet in my front pocket unless too tight to put it there along with my keys. But this is really irrelevant since it can happen from almost anything. I can imagine myself sleeping at a rest area with the seat layed back and this thing break. It is very weak and about half the strength it should be. One side pops while you trust it and dont expect it you more than likely will twist your body suddenly.

Glad to hear no one else has had a problem like this, I wish I could say the same...
 

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If you reach for your wallet in your pants front or rear pocket you will more than likely lift yourself off the seat and lean forward am I correct?

What part of the seat would you use? I suppose you could use the top of the seat all depending on who you are... like you might put the pressure on the head rest I suppose I have no clue as what is your weight and size?

Maybe it is my height that made me lean forward while diggin into my pockets as my front pockets allow keys or whatever I have to go under my leg as I usually have Kahki dress pants on.

And for illistration purpose one more time I had my foot pushing against the foot rest on the floor and my butt up against the back of seat maybe 2-3 inches up off the seat like I always have done for 20 years now... never once a problem like this, especially one resulting in injury to my back.

I usually always keep my wallet in my front pocket unless too tight to put it there along with my keys. But this is really irrelevant since it can happen from almost anything. I can imagine myself sleeping at a rest area with the seat layed back and this thing break. It is very weak and about half the strength it should be. One side pops while you trust it and dont expect it you more than likely will twist your body suddenly.

Glad to hear no one else has had a problem like this, I wish I could say the same...
5'11" 165 lbs. I'm a bit skinny but not nearly as tall as you. If I was getting out my wallet I would be attempting to stand up by applying pressure to my upper back and feet on the floor while shifting up and forward so there is a gap down there to reach my wallet. I had a real hard time visualizing what happened. Understanding what happened helps a lot. Basically you tweaked you back really bad when the seat gave way.

It's too bad one small tiny clip can cause so much trouble.

You know if you can't get a lawyer you could always go to small claims but they usually max you out at $5k depending on your state. County websites are usually the best for info on that.

You seem to be taking this rather well. I'm not sure I could be as calm as you about something like this.
 

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I'm 5.11 and 175 (wet) and I broke that lumbar clip. I just changed it. Easy 15 minutes job. Buy part #: 64133AJ04A (HOOK FLAT MAT SETLMB). The dealer wanted $100 for the job.
I broke the clip when I applied pressure on my back while putting my wetsuit.
 

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After reading through this thread I am going to be careful in car seats now! I have had similar back injuries before and currently as well. Sounds like a herniated lumbar disc in the back. At 6'1 and 215llbs I'm not exactly small a small fry. My car is an Outback limited edition with the electronically controlled seats so I don't think there's as much worry there. I feel for you. PAINFUL injury that takes a long time to heal.
 

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I have had about 20 law firms say "I have a Case but we wont represent you". I have not gave up as I am now going public with this on my own with the hope that others may be experiencing the same problem and they are as computer savy as I am to research this issue further.
You have some empathy because my being hit by a car years ago left me prone to back problems. Don't let that go to your head because my empathy and respect for you disappears after that.

Your trolling for legal action before a better part has me struggling to view you operating at any rank without a curse word in the title.

Consider 20 attorneys not wanting to represent you as good support for my current opinion of you.

My sincere advice is to work on your fitness that will help prevent a repeat of back problems and help live with it. Nothing any doctor or lawyer can do has helped more in the years since the accident I described.
 

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Thank You for the video link. Makes this problem clear. I will be using my seat a little different now that I know there is a definite weakness in the Lumbar area.
 

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I have owned 5 Subarus. The only problems I have had with seats is the motor switch or motor assembly. On the older models with manual seats, all the adjustments worked great the whole time I had the cars. My 99 went 300k miles with the original seats and upholstery and remained comfortable and firm the whole time.

I am 6'1", 185-190 firm. I can not raise my self up in the seat without touching the roof with my head. I find it difficult to believe that a 6'6" man at 230 can maneuver himself in the front seat without having the seat back leaned rearward.

The seat back is just that, a back. Its not for support of your weight, or a large percentage of your weight while in a leaned position. The seat is designed to support human weight in the proper upright position, which keeps you alert while driving.

I suppose I could probably break the support spring connectors myself if I tried hard enough. I can move a 55 gallon drum of oil across rough concrete without assistance of a drum dolly, so breaking a connector would be easy. All I would need to do is put stress on the part in a way that it was not designed.

I sympathize with the pain you may be feeling. But, it seems the seat back is being used to support a larger percentage of body weight than it was designed for and maybe you should just change habits and take the keys and wallet out of your pocket before getting in the car negating the need to shift a large portion of your weight to the seat back which is most likely in a reclined position when you attempt this which applies extra force to an area that was not designed to take that force.

This is why a lawyer won't touch it. You can't win. You are "abusing" the seat. Have you had any issues with the portion of the seat actually designed to support your weight? That being the seat itself?



JMO
 

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Just yesterday my seat failed for the second time. This is a real problem because in both insistence's my back was affected also. I believe this problem is more wide spread than thought because the problem isn't readily noticeable after the clip breaks.
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your back agony. I've had serious injuries to my spinal discs from a rear end accident. As we get older, we tend to have degeneration in our discs just from wear and tear and age. Something that might not hurt a younger person can seriously injure a person already somewhat compromised in this regard. Spinal discs injuries can be mildly to extremely painful and debilitating. Hard to understand by people who never had one. It sounds to me like this may be what you have. Chriropractors often mishandle these types of cases, and can do further injury, despite their reassurances (mine did!).

I don't about your state, but in California I think they've raised the limit to sue in small claims court to a pretty hight $10,000. Partly to free up Superior Court, and partly so that people can represent themselves when a lawyer doesn't have the financial incentive to do so. I would check to see how much you can sue in small claims court for. They keep it pretty informal so you don't need to know much about court procedure. Read some books on the subject, and have your evidence together and you may do ok. Nolo Press, at least in California, has a series of excellent self-help books on legal matters.

BTW, did you check your medical payments coverage in your car insurance policy? It very well may cover this incident.
 

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If you can't get a good fix, Mastercraft makes awesome seats. They do not fail. They are pricey but you get what you pay for.
 

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PS, what is this "CLIP" that has broken? I'd like to know the specific part you are referring to.
Looks like a "L" shaped plastic bracket that holds the Lumbar Bar to the track. If people are large or push hard against the back of the seat makes sense that it could be broken.

Working at a Saturn dealer many moons ago when Saturn first happened - we had people breaking the ratchet system at the base of the seat back. We started seeing one a week and our top Tech kept telling us that it wasn't something you easily break with standard use.

We had a used car on the lot same seat part in it - it took our largest guy in the shop and a second person to break the seat when the dealer asked us to test it. The way people were breaking them was by doing leg presses off the floor panel and forcing their backs into the seat back. The next owner to roll in with a broken seat we asked the owner if they wanted to test drive the latest model with the plan to see how they set their seat up and how they do it this was not mentioned to said owner. Said person literally did two full on leg bench presses while setting up the seat before the test drive.

Pretty sure this is why we see broken seat parts like this. The leg press behavior is done by lots of people and I honestly don't get why they do it.
 
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