Have you ever been in the middle of a repair when the service manual called for a nut to be torqued to a very specific specification, except you didn't have a torque wrench? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, we're guessing "tight enough" may ring a bell as well. But the fact of the matter is that torque tools exist for a reason; a lesson even automakers need to learn from time to time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced the recall of 4,038 2010 model year Nissan Pathfinder and Xterra SUVs due to defective fasteners securing the passenger front air bag module and the steering shaft positioning bracket. The problem? The fasteners weren't torqued to the correct specification. In the event of a crash, the poorly torqued fasteners may cause the passenger front airbag to deploy at an imperfect trajectory. And since airbags literally explode in the event of an accident, imperfect trajectory could lead to potentially serious injuries. Luckily for Nissan and its customers, the problem was caught relatively early. NHTSA says defective models were built between February 22 and March 13.

To remedy the problem, Nissan dealers will inspect the steering column and passenger front airbag fasteners, properly tightening or replacing loose or missing fasteners. The recall is expected to officially begin in April, and if you are unsure whether your Pathfinder or Xterra is affected by the recall, you can call Nissan at 1-800-647-7261. Hit the jump to read over the NHTSA press release.

[Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]
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Component: STEERING:GEAR BOX:SHAFT SECTOR
Potential Number of Units Affected: 4038

Summary:
NISSAN HAS NOTIFIED NHTSA OF A DEFECT IN CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2010 FRONTIER, PATHFINDER, AND XTERRA VEHICLES MANUFACTURED FROM FEBRUARY 22, 2010 TO MARCH 13, 2010. ON SOME OF THE POTENTIALLY AFFECTED VEHICLES, THE FASTENERS SECURING THE PASSENGER FRONT AIR BAG MODULE, AND ALSO THE FASTENERS SECURING THE STEERING SHAFT POSITIONING BRACKET MAY NOT HAVE BEEN TIGHTENED TO THE PROPER TORQUE SPECIFICATION.

Consequence:
IN THE EVENT OF A CRASH, THE PASSENGER FRONT AIR BAG DEPLOYMENT TRAJECTORY MIGHT BE AFFECTED. THE FASTENERS COULD POSSIBLY COME OUT OF THE STEERING COLUMN POSITIONING BRACKET INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL INSPECT THE STEERING COLUMN AND THE PASSENGER FRONT AIR BAG FASTENERS AND ANY MISSING FASTENERS WILL BE REPLACED AND ALL LOOSE FASTENERS WILL BE RETIGHTENED TO THE PROPER TORQUE SPECIFICATIONS FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING APRIL 2010. OWNERS MAY CONTACT NISSAN AT 1-800-647-7261.

Notes:
OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .