Nissan Probed by U.S. on Complaints Air Bag Flaw Persists

U.S. regulators are looking into whether a recall last year by Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest automaker, failed to fix a flaw in the air-bag 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. 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 in an e-mail 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 air bag to deploy during a crash and could increase the risk of injury to the passenger, according to a filing with the NHTSA by the Yokohama, Japan-based carmaker.

Nissan rose 0.8 percent to 1,280.5 yen as of 9:24 a.m. in Tokyo trading on Monday, while Japan’s benchmark Topix index rose 0.7 percent.

Air Bags

Air bag 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 air bags 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 air bags may not open on impact due to faulty software.

Nissan has been investigating complaints about the air-bag 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 air-bag 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 Nissan query “will look into the effectiveness of the recall remedy and whether any other OCS-related problems exist in the recalled population,” the NHTSA said in the advisory, referring to the Occupant Classification System algorithm.

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

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.