WASHINGTON -- Nissan North America is recalling nearly 300,000 small cars over concerns that an interior trim panel near the accelerator pedal could trap a driver’s foot, possibly causing unwanted acceleration or delaying braking.
The recall covers 298,747 2012-15 Nissan Versa subcompact cars and model year 2014-15 Versa Notes. The recall is expected to begin in mid-October and Nissan dealers will modify the interior trim panel in question, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The recall stems from an agency investigation into the issue that arose last year after it received a small number of complaints about the issue. Initially, Nissan did not consider it to be a safety defect, telling NHTSA that it was unaware of any accidents related to the trim panel trapping a driver’s foot. Nissan said there were no warranty claims for the issue and that the number of complaints it had received about it amounted to just 0.0031 percent of the number of Versas produced, according to an investigation timeline posted to NHTSA’s website
During NHTSA’s investigation, the agency received additional complaints of drivers getting their foot trapped by the trim panel, including one that resulted in a crash in which the driver sustained minor injuries, according to the timeline.
Last April, Nissan began a service campaign to modify the trim panel to create additional clearance between the accelerator pedal and the trim panel, while maintaining that it did not consider the issue to be a safety defect.
NHTSA then elevated its investigation in June and Nissan decided in August to reclassify the service campaign as a formal recall.
“Owners of the potentially affected vehicles who have not yet serviced their vehicles will get a new recall letter and are encouraged to contact their Nissan dealer for the remedy,” a Nissan spokesman said in a statement. “Nissan is committed to a high level of customer safety, service and satisfaction and is working with its dealers to provide an outstanding ownership experience to the affected Nissan owners.”
Separately, NHTSA upgraded an ongoing probe into seat sensors in Nissan and Infiniti vehicles that can malfunction and possibly prevent frontal passenger-side airbags from deploying in a crash. The investigation covers nearly 1 million 2013-2014 model year Nissan Altimas, Pathfinders, Sentras and Leafs, the 2013 Infiniti JX35, 2014 Infiniti QX60 and Q50 and 2013 Nissan NV 200 and Taxi vehicles.
Nissan says faulty software code in the occupant classification system, which regulates airbag deployment based on the size of the person riding in the passenger seat, may misread the weight of the passenger and deactivate the airbag, according to documents on NHTSA’s website.
Nissan and NHTSA have received a combined 1,271 complaints about the problem, including two received by Nissan reporting a crash and one reporting an injury.
Most of the complaints contend that the passenger airbag indicator light remains on, indicating that the airbag is deactivated, when adult passengers sit in the passenger seat, according to NHTSA, and many complaints say the problem persisted even after dealers attempted to fix it.
Nissan also told NHTSA it has received 3,283 warranty claims for the issue.
The Detroit News reported on the recall and upgraded investigation earlier today.