Nearly 4 million Nissan vehicles are part of two massive recalls issued due to serious safety problems, including problems with front passenger seat occupancy sensors, which may fail to recognize a passenger or incorrectly classify an adult passenger as a child, or that do not shut off when deactivated, both of which may increase the risk of a serious injury in an accident.
The primary Nissan recall was announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on April 28, impacting roughly 3.2 million vehicles that may have defective Occupant Classification System (OCS). This could cause airbag failure in a crash, increasing the risk of injuries.
At least three instances have been identified by the Japanese auto maker where Nissan airbags failed to deploy in a crash, causing injuries for vehicle occupants.
That first recall includes 2015 through 2016 Chevrolet City Express, 2013 Infiniti JX35, 2014 to 2016 Q50, 2014 to 2016 Infiniti QX60, 2013 through 2016 Nissan Leaf, 2016 to 2017 Nissan Maxima, 2015 to 2016 Nissan Murano, 2013 to 2016 Nissan NV200, 2014 to 2016 Nissan NV200 Taxi, 2013 through 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, and 2014 to 2017 Nissan Rogue vehicles.
The occupant sensor may incorrectly think an adult is a child or classify the seat as empty, which deactivates the airbag. If the airbag sensor does not recognize an occupant in the seat or recognizes the incorrect weight of the occupant, it may cause the airbag not to deploy in the event of a crash, posing a serious and potentially fatal situation.
The second recall impacts an additional 620,000 vehicles, including the 2013 through 2016 Nissan Sentra’s, which also have an airbag sensor problem. However, the OCS sensors in these vehicles are failing to turn off when intentionally deactivated. Nissan announced that the front passenger seat belt bracket may become deformed if it is used to secure a child restraint system, potentially causing the airbag not to shut off due to a sensor failure.
Nissan specifically stated in their press release that parents and guardians should avoid placing child restraint systems in the front seat until the OCS system has been inspected and repaired by a licensed Nissan dealer.
In both recalls, the OCS system failures pose serious and potentially life-threatening hazards to both adult and child occupants. Currently, Nissan has not determined how to fix the problems and is working with the NHTSA to offer a solution and a repair schedule.
The NHTSA recall release indicates Chevrolet City Express owners will be notified by General Motors. Dealers will reprogram the Air Bag Control Unit (ACU) and OCS Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra vehicles, and replace the OCS ECU in LEAF, NV200, NV200 Taxi, Pathfinder, Infiniti Q50, JX35, and QX60 and Chevrolet City Express vehicles, free of charge. Although the manufacturers have not released a repair schedule to date, owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669, Infiniti customers may contact 1-888-833-3216, and Chevrolet customers may contact 1-800-222-1020 for further information.