Nissan recalled approximately one million vehicles, including 544,000 Altima sedans because the front passenger-side air bag might not deploy in a crash, the company said in a report to regulators published on Wednesday. It’s the company’s second recall to fix the same problem and the fifth huge recall for automakers in this year.
The problem, affecting vehicles in the 2013-14 model years, comes from a federally mandated system, which is intended to determine whether the front seat is occupied—and turn off the air bag if it is not occupied—or if a small child is seated there.
In documents filed with the NHTSA, Nissan said the vehicles’ computer software may not detect an adult in the passenger seat. It that happens, the air bags will not inflate.
The report said the automaker was aware of three accidents in which the passenger air bag did not deploy in a crash, even though the seat was said to be occupied. Nissan is not aware of any fatalities involving the problem, Steve Yaeger, a Nissan spokesman, wrote in an email. He said that he did not known if any injuries were associated with the defect.
Nissan’s action comes following major vehicle recalls this year. Last month, as we reported to you, General Motors announced the recall of 1.6 million older model Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, citing a defective ignition switch linked to 12 deaths. The GM recall is currently the subject of a series of investigations over why it took more than a decade for GM to act on a serious problem it had prior knowledge about. Last week, GM announced another recall, an air bag malfunction on approximately 1.3 million sport utility vehicles. Honda and Toyota have also announced large recalls, which we have reported about.
The Nissan recall affects approximately 990,000; including about 544,000 Altima sedans, 29,000 Leaf electric vehicles, 124,000 Pathfinder sport utility vehicles, 183,000 Sentra compacts and 6,700 NV200 taxis from the 2013 model year. Infiniti models affected by the action include about 64,000 JX35, models from 2013 and QX60 models from 2014, as well as Q50 sedans from 2014 models.
You may remember that last year, Nissan recalled about 82,000 cars and trucks from the 2013 model year, for a similar problem, telling NHTSA that a malfunction of “strain gauge sensors” could suppress the front passenger air bag, even if someone were seated there. Mr. Yaeger could not immediately say whether those vehicles were again being recalled.
Even though dealers replaced seat sensors, Nissan said it continued to receive complaints from owners and warrant claims in vehicles that had been repaired shortly following the 2013 recall. So it began “monitoring the situation” and concluded last September that there wasn’t a malfunction, but that the problem was “likely caused by out-of-position occupants.”
Nissan will notify owners and dealers will update the software free of charge. The recall is expected to start in mid-April.
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