Nissan Recalls 3.8 Million Vehicles to Fix Airbag Problems

Nissan recalls millions of cars for airbag problems, some that have already been recalled.

Posted in Recalls

— Nissan is recalling nearly 3.8 million vehicles to repair problems associated with airbags, although for problems unrelated to exploding airbags manufactured by Takata.

Nissan Maxima, Altima, NV200, LEAF, Sentra, Pathfinder, NV200 Taxi, Rogue, Murano, Chevrolet City Express, Infiniti JX35, Infiniti QX60 and Q50

After previous recalls and investigations, Nissan is recalling 3,177,645 vehicles, some that have been recalled in the past for the same problems. The recalled vehicles include the following:

  • 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima
  • 2013-2016 Nissan Altima
  • 2013-2016 Nissan NV200
  • 2013-2016 Nissan LEAF
  • 2013-2016 Nissan Sentra
  • 2013-2017 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2014-2016 Nissan NV200 Taxi
  • 2014-2016 Infiniti QX60 and Q50
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35
  • 2014-2017 Nissan Rogue
  • 2015-2016 Nissan Murano
  • 2015-2016 Chevrolet City Express

Nissan says the occupant classification systems in the front passenger seats can turn off because the systems classify an adult as a child or classify a seat as empty even if an adult is in the seat. The automaker says the occupant systems will disable the airbags in the event of a crash and leave a passenger unprotected.

Engineers say if the problem occurs when the vehicle is started, the system will malfunction until the vehicle comes to a stop and remains stopped for 12-13 seconds.

Nissan says in the case of a child classification, the system is designed to illuminate the airbag light indicating the airbag is turned off. However, if the initial classification is “empty seat,” the light will not illuminate and there is no indication that the airbag is suppressed.

On top of these problems, Nissan discovered a problem with the supplier that caused certain Pathfinder SUVs to be equipped with the wrong occupant classification control units.

Nissan doesn't know when the recall will begin but owners should watch for interim notification letters within 60 days. Final letters will be mailed when Nissan dealers are ready to begin the recall.

Owners of the Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra vehicles will have the airbag control units and the occupant classification system electronic control units reprogrammed.

Owners of the LEAF, NV200/Taxi, Pathfinder, Q50, JX35/QX60 and Chevrolet City Express vehicles will need the occupant classification system electronic control units completely replaced.

Nissan Sentra

Airbags are fine and good in a crash unless they deploy at full force with a child in the front seat, a problem that has caused Nissan to recall more than 622,000 model year 2013-2016 Sentra cars.

The automaker says the front passenger seat belt bracket can deform from installing a child restraint system. The seat belt bracket can cause problems with the occupant classification system that causes the system to incorrectly classify the child restraint system.

The end result is a front passenger airbag that stays on even though it should be disabled with the child seat installed.

Nissan is warning owners not to install a child restraint system of any kind in the front passenger seat of the 2013-2016 Sentra cars. The automaker says a remedy to the problem isn't available, so owners will be mailed an interim recall notice by the end of June 2016. A second recall notice will be sent once dealers are ready to fix the cars.

Owners of the recalled vehicles may contact Nissan at 800-867-7669, Infiniti at 888-833-3216 or Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020.

The Nissan airbag failures have continued for a few years while recalls and investigations kept making the news. Nissan had airbag troubles that caused a recall in 2013, then another recall was ordered in 2014 for the same problems.

In March 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation to determine if the 2014 recall actually fixed the airbag problems. Based on the findings of that investigation, this latest set of Nissan recalls was ordered.