Franklin, Tenn. – Oct. 2, 2017 – Nissan North America has recalled more than 800 vehicles believed to be equipped with defective driver-side air bag assemblies, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2017 Infiniti Q50 and Q50 Hybrid sport utility vehicles with production dates ranging from Dec. 22, 2016 to Jan. 19, 2017. The car company suspects 1 percent of the models referenced in the recall actually contain the defective feature.
The vehicles named in this campaign could include driver-side air bag assemblies with insufficiently welded initiator collars and closure plates. This could cause cracks to form during deployment and allow gas to leave the initiator housing. Consequently, air bag assemblies in the recalled vehicles may not deploy properly in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury for drivers. However, Nissan has yet to receive reports connecting the defect to any accidents or injuries.
Timeline of Events
In April 2017, parts supplier Nihon Plast contacted Nissan regarding an instance in which an installed air bag assembly failed to deploy properly during a low-temperature test conducted at -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The automaker investigated the test result and found that a crack in the inflator welding had inhibited air bag deployment. Nissan then requested Nihon to quarantine the affected parts to be used in a forthcoming root-cause investigation. In May, Nissan met with Nihon and the Daicel Corporation, which supplied parts for the air bag assembly involved in the failed test. The three parties agreed to conduct a joint investigation. This inquiry revealed that staff at Daicel had not effectively cleaned and inspected weld jigs during the air bag assembly process, resulting in misalignment of closure plates and poor welding.
In June, Nissan requested Daicel to conduct internal tests in an effort to duplicate the defective parts and further understand the mechanisms of the ineffective processes that led to their creation. Daicel agreed and launched this initiative, along with a parts collection program to analyze other previously fabricated fixtures. Both of these efforts concluded in July. Nissan then met with the parts provider to review the results, which included data on inflator weld strength. One month later, the automaker confirmed the root cause of the failed air bag deployment observed during the April trial. Quality assurance personnel then reviewed internal records to identify possibly affected vehicles and launched an internal investigation to study the safety risks associated with the defective air bag assemblies.
On Sept. 7, Nissan confirmed that the defective parts posed a serious threat to owners and issued a voluntary safety recall. The car company notified dealers Sept. 15.
Nissan had directed dealers to replace the driver-side air bag inflators in the affected vehicles free of charge, according to a recall acknowledgment document from the NHTSA. The automaker plans to notify owners via first-class mail Oct. 30. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact Infiniti customer service personnel at (800) 662-6200. Owners can also reach out to the NHTSA directly through the agency’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.