Nissan announced today that it is recalling five of its model year 2013 vehicles due to a dangerous passenger airbag flaw. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, certain Nissan Altima, LEAF, Pathfinder, Sentra and Infiniti JX35 vehicles may have contain a passenger Occupant Detection System (ODS) that was built out of specification.
Affected ODS units may malfunction and permanently suppress the passenger airbag. As a result, the passenger airbag may not deploy in the event of a crash, thus greatly increasing the risk of injury.
Nissan has yet to determine the total number of vehicles involved in the airbag recall. The automaker did state, however, that no other Nissan or Infiniti models are affected because this specific ODS system is not used in any of its other vehicles.
Nissan will begin notifying owners and dealers of the recall in early April 2013. Authorized dealers will inspect the ODS and replace them as necessary for free. In the meantime, drivers can contact Nissan Customer Service at 1-800-647-7261. Concerned customers may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov.
According to documents that Nissan has filed with the NHTSA, there are several factors that owners should consider related to the recall. Firstly, if the ODS system malfunctions, the passenger airbag will permanently suppress regardless of the occupant’s weight. If the system does malfunction, the (red) supplemental airbag warning light (SRS Light) will illuminate to alert the driver of the problem. Additionally, the (amber) front passenger airbag status light will illuminate to alert the front seat passenger.
In December 2012, Nissan first became aware of the airbag defect due to an increasing amount of warranty claims regarding the SRS Light and/or the passenger airbag status light on 2013 Nissan Altima, LEAF, Pathfinder, Sentra and Infiniti JX35 models.
Consequently, Nissan launched an investigation in late December. The automaker eventually linked the ODS system problem to a supplier (Tier 2 to Panasonic) problem. Evidently, its supplier had made changes to the sensor, which affected its performance. On February 21, Nissan determined that a recall was necessary after a two-month probe.
Nissan has sold over 170,000 vehicles so far in 2013, with the Nissan Altima leading the way with nearly 50,000 units sold. As for the other vehicles concerned in Wednesday’s recall, the 2013 sales totals are as follows:
Nissan Sentra: 19,037 vehicles sold
Nissan Pathfinder: 13,295 vehicles sold
Infiniti JX35: 4,270 vehicles sold
Nissan LEAF: 1,303 vehicles sold