In cooperation with ongoing government and manufacturer safety efforts, recalls have been issued for vehicles outfitted with possibly defective Takata airbags, including many vehicles with the Nissan/Infinity brand. Nissan has been working hard to notify at least 694,626 potentially affected vehicles, including their Infinity models.
Nissan/Infiniti Airbag Recall
Nissan is taking extra steps to reach vehicle owners in certain regions that are subject to hot and humid weather conditions. They have notified or will notify owners of affected vehicles about the Takata airbag recalls so they can get their vehicles inspected and have defective parts replaced. The recall effort does reach into every U.S. state, including the District of Columbia and some American territories. Special attention is focused on some areas of Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands.
One problem that affects airbag functioning is moisture, which is most likely to be a factor in some geographic regions. Effectiveness of airbags in those humid regions can deteriorate after just 6 years, while they function better in other regions with less humidity, lasting there up to 20 years. Besides the deterioration factor, when moisture invades the airbag inflator, the two chemicals inside can react and cause deployment failures. Airbags may explode when there is no impact, and the inflator could fracture, sending metal shards into the vehicle like shrapnel. These flying metal pieces have even caused death when they lodged in the critical neck jugular vein or carotid arteries.
Recalls have been ongoing for several years, and as new problems are discovered, updates to recalls have been issued that include additional vehicles. Takata knew of airbag failures in 2004, but did not publicize the problems until forced to make recalls in 2008. The recalls affect as many as 24 manufacturers worldwide who use Takata airbags. By 1998, all vehicles manufactured or sold in the United States are required to have front driver side bags as standard equipment. Most airbags used are produced by Takata. Getting replacements also has been slow and difficult, as some of those parts also were defective. Some vehicles that have been repaired now would need another replacement if the replacement parts are found to be defective.
Airbag Deployment Failures
The airbag deployment failures can occur in any type of Takata airbag – front driver, front passenger, and side door panel or knee styles. Any time an airbag is defective, it fails to provide the designed protection for vehicle occupants. Deployment of the airbag is a critical part of this safety device. If there is anything that either prevents deployment or causes premature or insufficient deployment, it renders the airbag ineffective and in some cases, dangerous.
Failures in the airbag deployment process can occur if the sensor malfunctions. The sensor is designed to detect changes in speed and angle when the vehicle is suddenly stopped or slowed by a collision or other mishap that halts forward progress. It may also malfunction if some other metal part creates a short. Working at the wrong time will cause the airbag to inflate and this could result in injury. Not working when it is supposed to signal the airbag inflator can also cause the airbag to not open and therefore also not protect the vehicle driver or passenger.
Within the airbag is located the inflator device. It contains chemicals that react upon activation to form a hot hydrogen gas for inflating the airbag quickly. Any defects inside the inflator, such as a propellant problem, could result in the part exploding and thrusting sharp metal parts into the vehicle and injuring or killing a driver or passenger.
Airbag Failure Injuries
Injuries can affect many areas of the body when there is an airbag deployment failure. If there is no inflation, there will be no cushioning effect to help protect you from harm by hitting the steering wheel or other hard objects inside the vehicle. If the side airbags inflate prematurely, it could harm persons sitting nearby, especially children. Premature inflation of an airbag without cause can also startle and/or harm the driver or other passengers.
Since the airbags contain harsh chemicals, there could be a risk of chemical skin burns or irritation to the eyes or lungs. The expanded airbag has ventilation holes to allow some gas to escape in order to soften the airbag surface slightly. Airbags are very loud when they inflate, so loud that inside a closed area like a vehicle interior, that noise could damage the ears or puncture the eardrum.
The worst injuries and deaths have been caused when the inflator mechanism and a wire cage around it explode due to extreme force when the hot hydrogen gas is created and expands. This can happen when the inflator is cracked or the chemicals react with excessive force. Small pieces of metal would then be projected into the vehicle at speeds of 100 mph or higher, piercing the body just like shrapnel. If these metal shards shoot into the jugular vein or carotid arteries of the neck, it can cause death.
Nissan has sent out recall notices for several models, including Infiniti vehicles. In some cases, a repeat recall has been made to address additional problems with defective parts. Nissan goes a step further than some other manufacturers in trying to notify all owners who may have vehicles with airbag problems. They do not focus primarily on hot and humid regions, but contact owners in all regions. Safety is their first concern and they offer free replacement of defective airbag parts.
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
- 2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
- 2002 – 2006 Nissan Sentra
- 2007-2011 Nissan Versa
- 2013-2014 Nissan Altima
- 2013 Nissan Altima, Leaf, Pathfinder, Sentra and Infiniti JX35
- 2013-2014 Nissan NV200
- 2001-2008 Infiniti FX35
- 2003-2008 Infiniti FX45
- 2001, 2003-2004 Infiniti I30
- 2002-2004 Infiniti I35
- 2006-2010 Infiniti M35
- 2006-2010 Infiniti M45
- 2001-2003 Infiniti QX4
- 2013-2014 Infinity JX
- 2013 Infinity JX35
- 2013-2014 Infiniti Q50
- 2013 Infiniti QX56
- 2014 Infiniti QX80 SUVs
- 2013-2014 Infiniti QX60
Check Your Vehicle VIN Number
Owners should receive mail notices of Nissan/Infiniti recalls. However, in some cases, the trail of ownership is not clear and some owners may not receive mailed notices. Even if you expect to receive a recall notice in the mail, take time to check your vehicle VIN Number online periodically. Recalls may be repeated for different airbag problems at a later time. Just check every few months to have confidence in the safety of your airbag system.
You can find information at the Nissan/Infinity website or at the government websites below.
Airbag Recall Nissan Vehicles
This auto manufacturer has sent out an airbag recall for some of its models from 2001-2006, including the Maxima, Sentra and Pathfinder.