Nissan officially announced a recall yesterday of its 2013 and 2014 model year LEAF electric cars to fix a software bug which could prevent the passenger seat airbag from properly deploying in an accident.
The LEAF, like other modern cars on the market today, uses something called an Occupant Classification System (OCS) to determine if the front passenger seat is occupied or not. Essentially a specially-designed load-sensor, the OCS automatically disables activation of the front passenger airbag if it detects the seat is empty.
Yet a software bug, which has been duplicated across more than one million Nissan-made vehicles worldwide, could prevent the OCS from correctly operating. In affected vehicles, the system fails to detect that someone is sitting in the front passenger seat and may fail to deploy the front passenger airbags as a result in the event of a crash.
According to Nissan (via Reuters), the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported two different instances of Nissan-made cars failing to correctly deploy their front passenger airbags in a collision. It is not clear if these vehicles were LEAFs, or other Nissan models also affected by the problem.
Nissan says just under 30,000 LEAFs are affected by the problem, but the recall also affects Nissan’s 2013-2014 Altima and Sentra sedans, Pathfinder crossover and 2013 NV200 vans. The problem has also affected many of Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand cars, including the 2014 Q50 sedan and the QX60 Crossover/JX35 SUV.
The majority of cars affected by the problem appear to be U.S. market vehicles, with Nissan North America saying 990,000 vehicles out of a total 1,053,479 affected vehicles residing in the U.S. and Canada.
Concerned drivers in North America can contact Nissan directly on 1-800-647-7261, while the official U.S. safety recall notice can be seen on the Safercar.gov website. Nissan says reprogramming of the OCS system under the recall notice is expected to start mid-April and be offered to owners free of charge. Nissan will contact owners of affected cars directly.
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