The agency wants to gather more information about sections of the footwell that can potentially interfere with operating the pedals, and NHTSA estimates this could affect 360,000 vehicles if the agency requests a recall.
The preliminary evaluation of this problem was opened last June when NHTSA received a report of a driver's foot being trapped by a trim panel on the right side of the footwell. Since then, the government agency has tallied 24 total complaints, including one crash and an injury, which might have been linked to this issue. It's also possible the HVAC relay actuator in a nearby area could be doing the same thing. Either might lead to unintended acceleration and delayed braking.
NHTSA's new engineering analysis is meant to "assess the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect." It also adds the 2015 Versa Sedan and Note to the list of potentially affected models but removes the examples from 2012 because of a different footwell panel design.
"Nissan is cooperating fully to answer the agency's questions," the automaker said in a prepared statement emailed to Autoblog (embedded in full below). You can read the entire report in PDF format, including photos of the potential issue, here.
Date Investigation Opened: APR 01, 2015
Date Investigation Closed: Open
NHTSA Action Number: EA15003
Component(s): SERVICE BRAKES, HYDRAULIC , VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL
All Products Associated with this Investigation
Vehicle Make Mode lModel Year(s)
NISSAN VERSA 2013-2015
NISSAN VERSA NOTE 2014-2015
Manufacturer: Nissan North America, Inc.
On June 24, 2014, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-018 to investigate allegations that the tunnel carpet cover trim panel on model year (MY) 2012 through 2014 Nissan Versa, Versa Sedan and Versa Note vehicles has, in certain situations, interfered with the driver's ability to promptly release the accelerator pedal and transition to the brake pedal. This may result in delayed brake application or brief incidents of unwanted acceleration. At the opening of PE14-018, ODI had identified one complaint, VOQ 10597004, alleging that the driver's foot became caught by the subject trim panel to the extent that the driver decided that it was necessary to pull on their leg to get the foot free of the interference, almost causing a crash. The trim panel in question (Figure 1) is located next to the accelerator pedal and the lower corner is positioned such that it is near the right outer edge of the driver's shoe. The complainant supplied a photograph (Figure 2) showing how the edge of the panel wedged itself in the driver's shoe. Complainant 10573057 alleged that when attempting to remove their foot from the accelerator pedal to apply the brake, their shoe was caught by the trim panel which delayed braking ability several times. During the investigation, ODI received a VOQ, 10614957, that alleged that the driver's foot was interfered with by the trim panel, delaying the driver's ability to apply the brakes, resulting in a crash and minor injuries to the driver. In addition, ODI has received VOQs alleging that the HVAC relay actuator, Figures 3 and 4, can also interfere with the driver's ability to react quickly to apply the brakes. MY 2015 Versa Sedan and Note vehicles have been added to the scope of the investigation as they are believed to have the same panel design and actuator placement as the subject vehicles. An Engineering Analysis has been opened to asses the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect. The subject vehicles from PE14-018 have been revised to exclude the MY 2012 Versa models because they do not use the same trim panel design. The VOQs associated with this investigation are: 10649259, 10614957, 10610356, 10606766, 10606670, 10597004, 10498000, 10640644, 10606832, 10573057, and 10503811.
Nissan received a Resume for an Engineering Analysis (EA) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning driver complaints of foot interference in their MY2013-2015 Nissan Versa or Versa Note. Nissan is cooperating fully to answer the agency's questions.
Nissan is committed to a high level of customer safety, service and satisfaction.