Nissan faces U.S. safety probe into airbag recall

Nissan has been investigating complaints about airbag sensors since June 2013, including three instances where the devices failed to deploy during a crash, according to NHTSA documents. The agency's latest probe covers eight models, including the 2013-14 Altima, pictured.

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators are looking into whether a recall last year by Nissan Motor Corp. failed to fix a flaw in the airbag control systems on almost 1 million vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a query March 18, citing 124 complaints filed by motorists after the recall began last April, according to a notice posted on the regulator's website.

The affected vehicles are model year 2013-14 Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra and Leaf; 2013 Infiniti JX35; 2014 Infiniti QX60 and Q50; and 2013 Nissan NV 200/Taxi vehicles.

Some drivers alleged the flaw persists after multiple repairs by dealers.

"Nissan Group believes the recall remedy was effective and appropriately addressed the safety defect," Steve Yaeger, a spokesman at Nissan North America Inc., said Sunday. "Nissan and Infiniti also took additional steps to help dealers address residual customer concerns unrelated to the recall and to maintain high level of customer satisfaction."

Nissan recalled 989,701 vehicles last year, saying the software may incorrectly classify the passenger seat as empty when it is occupied by an adult. This may lead to a failure of the airbag to deploy during a crash and could increase the risk of injury to the passenger, according to a filing with the NHTSA by the company.


Airbag recalls have plagued the industry since last year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 2.1 million vehicles in January because of airbags that could go off while driving.

In February, Jaguar Land Rover North America said it will recall more than 61,000 vehicles after finding that some passenger-side airbags may not open on impact due to faulty software.

Nissan has been investigating complaints about the airbag sensors since June 2013, including three instances where the devices failed to deploy during a crash, according to documents filed with NHTSA.

The company reacquired four vehicles for testing. Among the complaints to NHTSA, a Nissan Pathfinder owner said his airbag sensor continued to fail to recognize his 112- pound wife, even after the recall repair.

"That puts my wife in jeopardy in the event of a head-on collision," the complaint said. "I was told there is nothing they can do."

The query on Nissan "will look into the effectiveness of the recall remedy and whether any other OCS-related problems exist in the recalled population," NHTSA said in the advisory, referring to the Occupant Classification System algorithm.

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