The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Nissan Motor Co.’s solution to a defect that deactivates passenger seat air bags and prompted the company to recall more than 1 million vehicles worldwide in 2014. NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation reported that it has received 124 complaints from Nissan and Infiniti owners reporting issues with their cars’ “occupant classification system,” which uses weight to determine whether or not the front passenger seat is occupied and turns the air bag on and off accordingly.
NHTSA opened the investigation on March 18 to determine the effectiveness of software updates offered by Nissan to address the issue affecting air bag sensors in certain models of Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra, NV 200 and LEAF, as well as Infiniti QX60 and Q50. Nissan reported last year that the sensors in some owners’ vehicles mistakenly identify adult passengers as either children or empty seats and deactivate the frontal airbag. No deaths or injuries are known to have resulted from the defect thus far, according to NHTSA and Nissan. The automaker recalled about 990,000 vehicles in the U.S. as part of its April 2014 recall. But the owners’ complaints said the sensor defect returned or appeared for the first time after the software update.
Reportedly, Nissan and Infiniti dealers are unable to provide any additional remedy without guidance from the company. Owners have taken their vehicles in for software updates as many as nine times without success, according to the complaints.
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