Nissan recalls a range of vehicles to fix potentially dangerous ignition issue

Nissan has joined the growing list of automakers issuing vehicle recalls this year.

The Japanese car company is recalling just over 165,000 vehicles across a range of makes and models. Owners in both the U.S. and Canada are affected.

The issue concerns key-ignition switches that could wear out over time, and which in extreme cases could cause the engine to shut off while the vehicle is in motion, Nissan confirmed to Consumer Reports. It added that if that happens, the resulting disorientation experienced by the driver could lead to an accident. Even more worrying, the problem could potentially deactivate the car’s air bags, leaving the vehicle’s occupants with little protection in the event of a crash.

Nissan vehicles subject to the recall in the U.S. include some but not all 2017-2018 Juke, Frontier, Sentra, Versa, Versa Note, NV, NV200, and Nissan Taxi models.

In Canada, the recall includes a number of 2017-2018 Frontier, Micra, and Versa Note models and 2017 Sentra vehicles. Vans manufactured in 2017 — specifically the NV200, NV1500, NV2500, and NV3500 models — are also being called in for checks.

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to post an official recall, Transport Canada has already done so. Its notice states that on some vehicles with Nissan’s key-ignition system, a spring in the ignition switch could wear out and eventually break. This could cause the ignition key to inadvertently move from the “on” position to the accessory position as the vehicle is being driven, causing the engine to shut off.

Airbags may fail

The notice further states that the loss of power, and change in steering and brake forces, “could increase the risk of a crash causing injury and/or damage to property.” Transport Canada’s notice reiterates that in the event of an impact, the airbags may not function.

Owners of affected vehicles — Nissan USA has a recall lookup tool on its website — should take their vehicle to their local dealer, where it will be inspected by engineers. If the ignition system needs replacing, Nissan will do so free of charge.

The recall notice says that until the correction is performed, “owners are advised to remove all objects from the ignition key ring, such as additional keys, key chains, etc.,” as the extra weight could increase the chances of a fault developing.

For some, Nissan’s case will bring to mind GM’s troubling key-ignition problems from several years ago, though there’s no suggestion that Nissan’s is anywhere near as serious. Indeed, the company says that up to now it hasn’t received any reports of incidents arising from the issue.

2018 recalls

It’s been a busy year for recalls. Kia and its affiliate Hyundai, for example, issued a notice a couple of months ago for more than half a million vehicles in the U.S. because of an airbag issue.

Others include one by Ford earlier in the year in which the company called in 1.3 million vehicles after a problem was discovered with the steering wheel, while in February, Toyota recalled 65,000 vehicles because of “improperly fastened bolts” and another issue affecting the cars’ vehicle stability control system.

In terms of numbers, however, one recall beats them all. Takata’s faulty and dangerous airbag system forced 19 automakers to recall more than 100 million vehicles over a number of years from 2013. Not coincidentally, the Japanese company filed for bankruptcy last year.

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