Feds Probe Nissan Recall Fix for Airbag Sensor Problem

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into the effectiveness of a recall remedy for 989,701 Nissan vehicles for a problem with the front-seat airbag sensors.

The investigation covers 2013-'14 Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra and Leaf vehicles, along with 2013 Infiniti JX35, 2014 Infiniti QX60, Q50 and 2013 Nissan NV 200 taxi vans.

The vehicles were recalled last year because computer software may not properly classify adult front-passenger occupants and deactivate, or turn off, the passenger's front airbag.

Dealers updated the occupant classification system software in response to the recall.

But since the recall was launched, NHTSA said it has received 124 complaints from consumers alleging problems after repairs were made.

"The majority of the complaints allege the passenger airbag status light stays on for adult front passengers," said NHTSA in its summary of the probe. "Some of the complaints state the dealers have made multiple repairs but the problem still persists."

Federal safety regulators have opened what is called a "recall query" to investigate the effectiveness of the software update and whether any other related problems exist in the recalled vehicles.

One owner of a 2014 Nissan Altima filed a complaint with NHTSA describing an "ongoing problem" with the airbag status light.

"I have had it back to the dealer two more times for the same incident only to be told it could not be fixed," the unidentified consumer wrote. "But they gave me a procedure to get around the issue."

The remedy: "Have the passenger stay perfectly still for about eight seconds until the light goes out. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't."

"Nissan Group believes the recall remedy was effective and appropriately addressed the safety defect. Nissan and Infiniti also took additional steps to help dealers address residual customer concerns unrelated to the recall and to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction," says Nissan spokesman Steve Yaeger.

Edmunds says: At this point, consumers with a concern should stay in touch with their Nissan and Infiniti dealers who can take steps to address the issue.