Nissan plans to recall 3.5 million vehicles sold around the world to fix sensors that could cause a car’s airbags to fail to deploy in the event of a crash.
The recall covers a number of Nissan and Infiniti cars, trucks and crossover vehicles, including the Altima sedan, Leaf battery car and NV200 commercial van.
The recall is the fourth to attempt to address the problem with so-called “smart” airbag sensors. It is separate from recalls triggered by faulty Takata airbag inflators, an issue that has so far plagued 14 different automotive manufacturers.
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In all, Nissan says it will recall 3.53 million vehicles due to the airbag sensor problem, all but 320,000 of them sold in the United States.
The problem is due to seat-mounted sensors that are designed to identify who is sitting in the front seats. Such smart sensors were added to most automobiles due to problems with early airbag systems that would inflate over-aggressively, occasionally causing injuries to passengers in minor crashes.
The Nissan system is meant to see if a smaller adult or child is in a front seat and, if so, reduce the force of inflation. But in some instances, the faulty sensors can misidentify the occupant or even fail to detect someone in one of the front seats.
Nissan has made three previous attempts to fix the problem, and issue that has plagued other manufacturers, as well.
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Vehicles covered by the latest recall include 2013 to 2017 model-year Nissan Altima, Sentra and Maxima sedans, the Leaf battery electric vehicle, the Murano and Pathfinder SUVs and, Rogue crossover, as well as the NV200 commercial van. Also affected are three Infiniti utility vehicles, the Q50 and the Q60 – the latter initially sold as the JX35.
Repairs will be made at no charge to consumers.
Intended to be one of a vehicle’s central safety technologies, airbags have wound up being involved in a variety of safety problems in recent years. A number of manufacturers have faced problems with smart airbag sensors and other wiring issues. But the biggest issue has been with faulty inflators produced by Japanese airbag supplier Takata.
The problem can result in an airbag inflating over-aggressively, launching plastic and metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment. A Texas high school student was killed in her Honda in late March due to a faulty Takata airbag, becoming the 11th fatality linked to the defect.
So far, 24 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags have been recalled in the U.S. alone. But federal safety regulators are considering whether to recall tens of millions more vehicles potentially at risk because of the chemicals used in the Takata airbag inflators.
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