Federal highway safety officials have announced a recall impacting more than 150,000 Nissan vehicles, which may have defective ignition switches that could result in an engine stall during operation, increasing the risk of an auto accident.
The Nissan ignition switch recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on August 31, after an internal investigation determined that a mechanical key ignition system may allow the key to disengage from the ignition switch when operated on rough road conditions or another jarring event occurs.
According to the ignition switch recall investigation, the impacted vehicles are equipped with a mechanical key ignition system that has ball springs, which could be susceptible to long-term excessive wear and possible fatigue breakage.
During the investigation, Nissan determined if the ball springs break and objects, such as keys or other items, are on the ignition key’s keychain, it could exceed the weight of the retention force and allow the ignition to turn from the “ON” position to the “ACC” positon. NHTSA and Nissan officials also warn that this situation is likely to occur when the vehicle is driven on rough terrains, hitting potholes, other likely driving scenarios.
In the event the ignition switch unexpectedly turns while driving, the vehicle would stop running without warning and increase the risk of a crash.
The recall includes model year 2017 Chevrolet City Express, 2017 through 2018 Nissan Frontiers, 2017 Nissan NVIs, NV200s, NV200 Taxis, NV2500 Vans, NV3500 Vans, Sentra’s, Versa Sedans, and Versa Note models. The vehicles were manufactured by Nissan North America Inc., where they were distributed for sale throughout the United States to licensed dealers.
Nissan announced they will begin mailing notification of the recall to registered owners with instructions on how to schedule a free repair at their local dealer, where dealers will inspect and replace the ignition switch if necessary. The recall is expected to begin on October 19, 2018. Customers with additional questions or concerns regarding the recall may contact Nissan Customer Service at 1-800-867-7669.
Similar problems resulted in a number of GM recalls issued in 2014, for defective ignition switches used in millions of different vehicles. Due to problems with the switches, vehicles suddenly shut off if heavy key chains were used or if the ignition is jarred, such as may occur in an accident. As a result, drivers lost control of their vehicles or airbags failed to deploy in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of severe injury.
Shortly after the recall was initially announced in February 2014, it was revealed that some officials at GM had known about problems with the ignition switches for more than a decade, but the company had failed to take action. The company was eventually fined $35 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
GM faced hundreds of lawsuits, most of which were resolved through a settlement agreement.