Nissan recalls compacts with air bag issues


Franklin, Tenn. – April 26, 2017 – Nissan North America has recalled more than 500 compacts with defective Takata air bag assemblies, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign affects Versa sedans produced between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, 2017, as well as Versa Note hatchbacks that rolled off the line over the same span. The automaker has yet to determine what percentage of listed models contain these defective air bags.

The Defect
Affected vehicles are equipped with faulty air bag cushion housings. Specifically, the ringed plates that hold the cushioning in place are made of metal with low carbon content. These fixtures are therefore prone to failure in high temperatures and can even separate from the cushioning when safety features are deployed during accidents. When airborne at high speeds, the air bag housing assembly poses great risk to passengers. No accidents or injuries have been connected to this defect.

Timeline of Events
In early February of this year, Takata engineers performed a round of quality assurance tests and discovered that some air bag assemblies suffered abnormal deployments. QA personnel conducted these trials in areas with temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Soon after the results registered, Takata engineers initiated an internal review to look into the problem. Weeks later, the provider connected with Nissan and shared the results of the air bag tests. The automaker immediately searched its inventory for affected parts, eventually instituting a worldwide quarantine of all Takata air bag assemblies included in the initial QA tests. Most of these fixtures were stored at Nissan production plants in Civac and Aguascalientes, Mexico.

In March, Takata came forward with conclusive results: A tier-two supplier had shipped out ring plates with faulty metallurgical compositions. The parts, which were light on carbon, failed in high-temperature environments. Nissan immediately initiated audits in its Mexican facilities in an effort to pinpoint and remove the defective air bag ring plates. Over the course of March and April, personnel reviewed more than 1,800 air bag assemblies and found that 616 Versa models included flawed safety features. Nissan QA personnel soon decided to launch a voluntary recall campaign.

The Solution
The automaker has ordered dealers to evaluate the air bag assemblies installed in affected vehicles using a quick scan tool, according to internal documents released to the NHTSA. Should the readings show parts that originate from the defective batch, dealers are to replace the passenger-side air bag module, free of charge. Nissan notified dealers April 27. The company is currently distributing owner notifications and is expected to finish this process by the end of June. Versa owners in need of additional assistance are encouraged to contact the NHTSA.

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