Nissan recall electric model with defective air bags


Franklin, Tenn. – May 4, 2017 – Nissan North American has recalled more than 28,000 vehicles equipped with defective air bags, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects Leaf hybrid-electric hatchbacks produced between Sept. 20, 2014 and Dec. 12, 2016, as well as Sentra sedans with production dates ranging from Sept. 25, 2014 to Sept. 22, 2016. It is unknown what percentage of these vehicles actually contain the problematic air bag assembly.

Just over 24,000 of the vehicles originated from dealers in the U.S. Roughly 2,600 were sold in unspecified foreign markets, while over 1,400 went to Canadian showrooms. Approximately 10 were shipped to Mexico.

The Defect
Vehicles named in this recall contain front passenger-side air bag assemblies with faulty components. Specifically, the inflator modules in these safety systems may hold defective coolant with diminished compression strength. As a result, the air bags may not inflate properly in the event of an accident, leaving occupants defenseless. Nissan has traced the coolant issue to two separate phenomena: oxidization due to ineffective storage methods and excessive wear from factory tooling practices. This defect obviously poses serious risk to owners. However, Nissan has not learned of any accidents or injuries connected to the faulty air bag inflator modules.

Timeline of Events
In October 2016, Nissan conducted safety tests and discovered that air bag assemblies in Leaf and Sentra models failed to fire properly. The automaker soon notified Japanese chemical firm Daicel Corporation, which supplied the coolant used in the fixtures. Daicel initiated an internal evaluation. Between November and December 2016, engineers for both companies reviewed the production workflows at the Daicel plant to determine the cause of the issue. The two teams also reached out to other suppliers involved in the production of the inflator modules, including Fuji and the Japanese vehicle design company Nihon Plast. The latter began internal testing.

Nihon Plast completed its evaluation in February 2017 and summoned Nissan officials to review the results. As this unfolded, the automaker launched field tests to pinpoint any accidents that could have been attributed to the malfunctioning air bar assembly. Nissan ultimately found none. In March, Nissan completed its review of the Nihon Plast product evaluation  and determined that a voluntary recall was necessary. The company launched the campaign April 6, 2017 but has since amended it twice – once April 28, 2017 and another time May 4, 2017.

The Solution
Nissan notified dealers April 27, 2017, requesting that they replace passenger-side air bags in affected models, free of charge, according to an internal communication submitted to the NHTSA. The car company has agreed to reimburse individuals with vehicles out of warranty for repairs. Models with active factory warranties should receive coverage for the recall work. Owners should expect to receive notification June 1, 2017. Those in need of more immediate assistance are encouraged to contact the NHTSA or the Nissan customer service department.

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