Nissan is recalling approximately 990,000 trucks and vehicles because the air bag in the front passenger side might fail to deploy. The vehicles affected include about 544,000 Altimas, 83,000 Sentra compacts, 124,000 Pathfinder SUVs, 29,000 Leaf electric cars, and 6,700 NV200 from their 2013 model lines. 64,000 Infiniti JX35 (2013 model) and QX60 (2o14 model) and 40,000 Q50 sedans (2014 model) are also included.
The airbag defect involves a system that is supposed to identify when the front passenger seat is occupied. If no one is in the seat or the occupant is a small child, then the air bag’s activation sensor is supposed to turn off.
According to Nissan, because of a software problem, the system might not be able to tell when there is an adult occupant, deactivating the air bags when it shouldn’t. The automaker said the software calibration’s “sensitivity,” high engine vibration, “unusual” sitting posture, and an initially empty seat that becomes occupied are some of the causes.
A report from Nissan that can be found on its website said the manufacturer knows of at least three car crashes in which the air bag on the front passenger side did not go off even though it should have done so. No related injuries or deaths have been reported thus far.
It was just last year that Nissan recalled approximately 82,000 trucks sand cars (2013 model) because of a “strain gauge sensors” malfunction that could prevent the front passenger air bag from deploying even when there is someone in the seat. Even after that announcement, owners were still complaining about the safety issue. After further investigation, the automaker announced that there was no malfunction but that the problem was “likely” the result of occupants who were not properly positioned. A software enhancement was developed in October.
GM Ignition Switch and Air Bag Defects
Nissan’s air bag safety issue recall comes on the heels of General Motors announcement that it is recalling at least 1.5 million autos over problems with its own side airbags. A safety glitch could prevent the safety devices from deploying when necessary. The Center for Auto Safety said that according to federal data, 303 related deaths in GM cars involved failed air bags. Some of these deaths occurred in vehicles that also experienced ignition problems—the cause of the recall of another 1.4 million vehicles.
Already there have been at least two auto products liability lawsuits over the GM ignition switch defect. One family has filed an Alabama auto defects case alleging that the ignition switch of 32-year-old Aubrey Wallace’s Chevy Colbat failed, causing the young mother of two to lose control of her car. The vehicle then drove over the centerline and struck an 18-wheeler truck. Delphi Automotive Systems, which supplied the car part on the Cobalt, is also a defendant in the case.
In another complaint, a Minnesota GM faulty ignition lawsuit, the plaintiffs are suing on behalf of three teenage girls involved in a 2006 car crash while riding in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Killed in the accident were 15-year-old Amy Rademaker and 18-year-old Natasha Weigel, who were passengers in the vehicle. The driver, 19-year-old Megan Phillips, sustained serious injuries.
According to that products liability case, the ignition switch of the Cobalt went from the “run” position to “accessory” mode. This caused the airbag, breaks, and steering systems to lose power and Phillips to lose control of the vehicle. It then went off the road.
The Gilbert Law Group is an auto products liability law firm that represents victim and their families throughout the US.