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NHTSA investigating Infiniti M45 over stalling risks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary investigation into the Infiniti M45 sedans from the 2003 and 2004 model year over a concern that the fuel gauge components may go bad and read incorrectly – possibly leading to stalling and increasing the risks of an accident.

The NHTSA decided to launch this preliminary investigation after receiving 43 complaints about the 2003 and 2004 Infiniti M45 sedan fuel gauges not reading correctly and in 26 of these cases, the misreading fuel gauges led to the M45 stalling on the open road when it ran out of gas. In all of these 26 cases, the fuel gauge indicated that there was still a proper amount of fuel in the tank while, in reality, the tank was completely empty. The federal agency points out that the majority of these complaints have come in the last year and with the number of complaints increasing, the NHTSA believes that there is cause to examiner these problems to see if there is a design or build flaw leading to an increased safety risk. In total, roughly 8,100 models in the US could be affected by this problem.

While there are a great many recalls that sound more severe than a gas gauge reading incorrectly, this issue with the 2003 and 2004 Infiniti M45 extends far beyond the inconvenience of not knowing exactly how much gas you have left. Imagine driving in thick traffic around Detroit, moving at 70mph with a half tank of gas and riding in the middle lane when your car just randomly stalls. The engine stops running and with that comes a decline in power steering and power brake control. Now you don’t have any power so you are slowing down dramatically while traffic is running up on you…but you also have a hard time maneuvering the car to the side of the road. One of the cars in traffic clips your car is it essentially floats along dead in the water and sets of a massive chain reaction pile up.

While that may seem dramatic, it illustrates how this seemingly minor issue with the Infiniti M45 sedan can quickly turn into a safety risk in the right conditions so it makes good sense for the NHTSA to open their preliminary investigation. Should the government agency find that these is a design, engineering or production flaw causing the fuel gauge to read incorrectly, the NHTSA could require Infiniti to issue a recall of these vehicles.

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