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Nissan’s Driveshaft Campaign Raises Questions

A common safety problem among three automakers sees three different solutions. No wonder consumers are confused.

by on Mar.12, 2010

Common parts, same cracks, different solutions?

Nissan is conducting what it calls a “Voluntary Service Campaign” on a 9,000 four-wheel-drive Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, Titans, Xterra and Infiniti QX56 2010 models to inspect the front driveshaft.

This is not a safety recall but a service action of the kind that has been criticized by safety advocates.  (Click Here.)

Some of these front driveshafts made by Dana have a yoke manufactured out of specification, which may cause cracks in the critical connection between the yoke, which holds a universal joint,  and the tubular shaft.

Nissan maintains that the vehicles are safe to drive.

“Even in the event the front propeller [drive] shaft was to fail, the vehicle would continue to operate in the normal two-wheel-drive mode. A loud noise would be heard but control of the vehicle would not be affected,” Nissan said in a statement, after we requested comment.

People with knowledge of the issue also clarified that if the driveshaft fails it cannot make contact with the ground and cause “pole vaulting”  since there is a cross member below it. I originally speculated, incorrectly,  that this would be possible in the first version of this story.

Nissan is notifying owners of all potentially affected vehicles. They will be told to bring their vehicles to an authorized Nissan dealer. The dealer will inspect the front driveshaft, and replace it -  if cracks are found where the yoke for the universal joint is connected to the shaft

This differs from the Toyota approach to the same problem. Toyota immediately instituted a safety recall on  2010 model Tacoma trucks that use similar Dana driveshafts going to the rear wheels after being informed in February by the component supplier of the cracking defect, which resulted from a faulty manufacturing process.

Ford Motor Company, which also uses the same potentially defective Dana driveshafts on Escape, Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute SUVs, has concluded that no action is needed on its vehicles since the driveshaft in question only powers the rear wheels a small percentage of the time for what are front-wheel-drive vehicles.

So three automakers using the same parts have taken three different approaches to a potential safety defect. The nuance here is in the potential consequence of the failure, which are not being disclosed in either company statements or NHTSA documents. This legalistic approach makes it impossible for news organizations to discern the nature of the threat, if one exists at all.  Small wonder then that consumers are confused about safety regulations and their effectiveness.   (more…)

Nissan investigating Dana Driveshaft Defects

Nissan and Infiniti 2010 model trucks and SUVs use the part.

by on Feb.13, 2010

Similar parts, some cracks, varied solutions?

Nissan confirms that  it is looking into potential driveshaft yoke problems in North America, the result of Dana supplied parts.

A potential recall would involve a “small number” of  current production four-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs at both the Nissan and Infiniti brands.

“Nissan/Infiniti vehicles built with one of these yokes will not experience a loss of control or present a safety risk even in the unlikely event the part should fail,” a spokesperson promptly told TheDetroitBureau.com.

Toyota immediately recalled 2010 model Tacoma trucks that use similar parts after being informed last Thursday by component supplier Dana of a cracking defect that occurred during manufacturing.

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Recalls!

In the current recall environment, dominated by Toyota actions, and where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized for its inaction in several matters that ultimately resulted in serious injuries and deaths, I will bet that Nissan recalls the trucks.

Nissan has five business days to so, giving Nissan until the middle of next week. Nissan would not name the vehicles involved, but sources close to the matter who are not authorized to speak about it say Titan and Frontier models are involved in the investigation. (more…)