Nissan is recalling about 3.17 million vehicles including a range of models due to a potential air bag system defect that can leave a car to misclassify an adult passenger as a child or even as nonexistent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In a letter, NHTSA said Nissan North America will issue a recall for 13 models that may contain a front-seat passenger “occupant classification system” that can incorrectly peg an adult passenger as a child or even decide a seat is empty, leaving the passenger air bag to be shut down and unable to deploy during a crash.
The affected models include 2013 Infiniti JX35, the 2014 to 2016 Infiniti Q50 and Infiniti QX60, the 2013 to 2016 Altima and Leaf, the 2016 to 2017 Maxima, the 2015 to 2015 Murano, the 2013 to 2016 NV200 and the 2014 to 2016 NV200 Taxi, the 2013 to 2017 Pathfinder, the 2014 to 2017 Rouge, the 2013 to 2016 Sentra, and even the 2015 to 2016 City Express model Nissan manufactured for Chevrolet. NHTSA said the issue occurs with “a small number of rare passenger ingress scenarios and unusual seating positions immediately upon entering the vehicle” that lead the system to think a seat is occupied by a child or empty, but if the position is maintained when the car begins moving, the classification is locked in for the duration of the drive. “In all instances, the OCS may not perform as designed and the passenger air bag not to deploy as designed in a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the front passenger seat occupant,” NHTSA said.
Nissan said it intends to notify the owners of the potentially affected vehicles within 60 days. Although repairs are expected to vary between vehicle models, the defect will be fixed without cost to drivers. The air bag recall comes little more than a month after Nissan agreed to recall about 47,000 Leafs released between 2013 and 2015 over the possibility that a braking component will freeze in colder climates, increasing the risk of a crash.
At the time NHTSA said the problem lies with the cars’ electronic brake booster. When one of the cars is parked in “extremely cold temperature conditions,” the relay inside the booster tends to freeze up and the car goes into an assisted mode for braking, requiring more effort and likely increasing braking distance. Drivers living in colder climes were also affected by an October recall of about 300,000 Nissan Versas, a compact car with front coil springs prone to corrosion from road salt used in colder months. If the springs corroded and fractured, it could cause the car’s front suspension and tires to fail completely. NHTSA launched an investigation into the problem in May after receiving 93 complaints of front coil spring fractures and one complaint of a crash related to the defect. In its preliminary analysis, the agency found that coil spring failures could happen without warning and at any speed.
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