Nissan Recalls 989,701 Vehicles Because Passenger Airbag May Not Deploy


  • 2014 Nissan Altima Picture

    2014 Nissan Altima Picture

    Nissan North America is recalling 989,701 2013-'14 vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and Altima, because the front passenger seat airbag may not deploy. | March 26, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Nissan North America is recalling 989,701 2013-'14 vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and Altima, because the front passenger seat airbag may not deploy.
  • Other vehicles involved in the recall include the 2013-'14 Nissan Pathfinder and Sentra, 2013 Nissan NV200 and Infiniti JX35, and 2014 Infiniti Q50 and QX60.
  • The recall is expected to begin in mid-April.

WASHINGTON — Nissan North America is recalling 989,701 2013-'14 vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and Altima, because the front passenger seat airbag may not deploy, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Other vehicles involved in the recall include the 2013-'14 Nissan Pathfinder and Sentra, 2013 Nissan NV200 and Infiniti JX35, and 2014 Infiniti Q50 and QX60.

"In the affected vehicles, the occupant classification system or OCS software may incorrectly classify the passenger seat as empty, when it is occupied by an adult," said NHTSA in its summary of the problem. "If the OCS does not detect an adult occupant in the passenger seat, the passenger airbag would be deactivated.

"Failure of the passenger airbag to deploy during a crash (where deployment is warranted) could increase the risk of injury to the passenger."

"There have been no fatalities associated with this issue," wrote Steve Yaeger, a Nissan North America spokesman, in response to an Edmunds query on Wednesday. "However, there have been a handful of reports of the OCS system not performing as designed. Still determining if any injuries could be linked."

According to a document filed with NHTSA, the company said it is aware of at least "two field incidents where the passenger airbag did not deploy and the passenger airbag status light was not illuminated." But the company said it "could not draw definitive conclusions based on the limited information available to it from these crashes."

Nissan also noted that it was "contacted by NHTSA regarding several customer complaints related to the OCS performance in the subject vehicles."

The company told federal safety regulators that no other Nissan or Infiniti vehicles are affected because this specific occupant classification system is not used in any other Nissan or Infiniti vehicles.

The 2013-'14 Altima makes up the majority of the recalled cars with approximately 544,139 units, followed by the 2013'14 Sentra with approximately 182,569 units.

Nissan said the problem may be triggered by a "combination of factors, such as high engine vibration at idle when the seat is initially empty and them becomes occupied or unusual occupant seating postures immediately upon being seated." These factors may cause the system to classify an occupied front passenger seat as empty.

"In some instances, the OCS may properly re-classify the passenger seat status if the vehicle comes to a stop and begins to idle again with lower vibration," the company said.

Nissan dealers will update the OCS software. The recall is expected to begin in mid-April. Owners can contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.

Edmunds says: If you own one of the affected Nissan vehicles and are unsure about next steps, it's best to contact your dealer prior to the start of the recall.

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