The 2012 Nissan Versa
Patrick Rall's picture

2012 Nissan Versa under investigation for possible airbag failures

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a preliminary investigation into the 2012 Nissan Versa over a concern that the driver’s side airbag may not deploy in the event of an accident due to either a production or design flaw.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been notified by Nissan that the control cables for the driver’s side airbag in the 2012 Versa could be pinched in the interior of the steering column. This pinched cable could prevent the driver’s side airbag from deploying in the event of an accident. Needless to say, having the driver’s side airbag can vastly increase the likelihood of injuries in the event of an accident.

Nissan believes that there are roughly 100,000 examples of the 2012 Versa that could possibly be affected by this situation. There has been no word from the automaker or the NHTSA whether the entire collection of 100,000 Versa models could exhibit the problem or if it is limited to a smaller group. It is also unclear whether this problem pertains to both sedans and hatchbacks or just one of the options. We can expect more details on this issue should the investigation continue.

There have been no reports to Nissan or the NHTSA of any injuries stemming from this 2012 Nissan Versa airbag issue but with the possibility of a driver’s side airbag not functioning at all – Nissan made the smart choice in notifying the feds right away about the possible problem. It should be noted that this is only a preliminary investigation into the Versa airbag system/steering column design and no recall has been issued thus far. This is the first step towards a government-required recall and should the NHTSA find a problem with either the design or production process that caused the crimped cable in the steering column, the investigation will be shifted to an engineering analysis. In many cases, the preliminary investigation does lead to a recall but in some cases, the NHTSA finds that no further actions are needed.

However, considering the topic of concern and the fact that Nissan came to the NHTSA about the possible problems with the 2012 Versa – we could very well see the Japanese automaker issue a recall well before the government progresses anywhere with their investigation. If it is something as simple as a technician opening up the steering assembly and rerouting a cable, it could be in Nissan’s best interest to recall these vehicles right away as it shows their proactive attitude towards vehicle safety.

Should Nissan issue a voluntary recall or should the NHTSA require Nissan to recall the 2012 Nissan Versa, this will be the second time this year that the 2012 Versa will face a recall. Nissan recalled the 2012 Versa in February after it was discovered that those models equipped with automatic transmissions could be shifted out of park without the driver depressing the brake pedal. This second safety issue in the span of just 7 months could hurt the consumer opinion of the compact sedan and hatchback in a segment that is packed full of popular models that are seemingly always improving.


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