Kia and Nissan are facing separate investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of alleged problems with the occupant detection systems in their vehicles' airbags.

The larger investigation is NHTSA's new engineering analysis into 986,826 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. They include the 2013 Nissan NV200 and 2013-2014 Altima, Leaf, Pathfinder, and Sentra. Among the Infinitis, there are the 2013 JX35 and 2014 Q50 and QX60. Owners allege the occupant classification system can misidentify passengers and turn off the airbag if they don't weigh enough.

Nissan recalled over a million vehicles worldwide last year to fix the same problem with a software update, but NHTSA kept getting complaints about the issue after the repair. The agency opened a preliminary evaluation in March, and after 1,271 complaints it has now been updated to an engineering analysis. The Feds intend to evaluate the effectiveness of Nissan's solution.

NHTSA is also opening a preliminary evaluation into the 2007-2009 Kia Spectra for the occupant classification not working properly, and it could affect an estimated 186,000 of these vehicles. The government agency has 43 complaints from people allegedly reporting the failures. According to NHTSA, the issue could result in the airbag not deploying with enough force or not activating at all in an accident. This investigation is meant to assess the scope of the potential flaw, and there's no recall yet.
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INVESTIGATION Subject : Occupant Classification System Fault
Date Investigation Opened: SEP 01, 2015
Date Investigation Closed: Open
NHTSA Action Number: PE15031
Component(s): AIR BAGS

All Products Associated with this Investigation
Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
KIA SPECTRA 2007-2009

Details

Manufacturer: Kia Motors America

SUMMARY:
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received 43 complaints alleging a malfunction of the front passenger seat occupant classification system (OCS) in 2007-2009 Kia Spectra vehicles. The complaints report illumination of the SRS (air bag) warning light. All of the complaints allege the cause of the light illumination to be a malfunction of the OCS sensor mat imbedded in the passenger seat cushion, and/or report the presence of diagnostic trouble code B1448 which relates to the OCS sensor mat also. Many of the complaints note the malfunction occurred after the warranty period expired and mention high repair costs as a major deterrent to repairing the vehicle.

A malfunction of the OCS mat sensor will cause the air bag diagnostic to detect a fault in the air bag system. This fault may result in either a) the passenger side air bag not being suppressed during a commanded deployment when a child or small adult is seated in the front passenger seat, or b) the passenger air bag system being inoperative (suppressed) when occupied by a passenger that would otherwise require air bag protection.

ODI is opening this preliminary investigation to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem and to fully assess the potential safety-related issues.

The ODI reports cited above are available for review online at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers:

10745773, 10746133, 10745528, 10721336, 10715846, 10712140, 10712046, 10706009, 10705387, 10681321, 10677080, 10673071, 10654873, 10654522, 10652472, 10651525, 10643205, 10639671, 10638251, 10627289, 10621507, 10620724, 10615883, 10609000, 10607838, 10606252, 10577842, 10568029, 10564527, 10561224, 10558018, 10548300, 10546251, 10515126, 10514578, 10507314, 10505671, 10504605, 10502779, 10500601, 10491709, 10459289, 10421138.


INVESTIGATION Subject : Occupant Classification System Failure
Date Investigation Opened: AUG 31, 2015
Date Investigation Closed: Open
NHTSA Action Number: EA15004
Component(s): AIR BAGS

All Products Associated with this Investigation
Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)

INFINITI JX35 2013
INFINITI Q50 2014
INFINITI QX60 2014
NISSAN ALTIMA 2013-2014
NISSAN LEAF 2013-2014
NISSAN NV200 2013
NISSAN PATHFINDER 2013-2014
NISSAN SENTRA 2013-2014

Details

Manufacturer: Nissan North America, Inc.

SUMMARY:
In April 2014, Nissan North America launched Safety Recall 14V-138 to address problems with the Occupant Classification System (OCS) algorithm in the following vehicles: model year (MY) 2013-2014 Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra and LEAF; MY 2013 Infiniti JX35; MY 2014 Infiniti QX60 and Q50; and MY 2013 Nissan NV 200/Taxi vehicles. According to Nissan, the OCS may misclassify adult front passenger occupants and turn off the passenger's frontal air bag for an adult occupant of sufficient weight.

In March 2015, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a Recall Query (RQ15-001) after the agency received approximately 124 complaints alleging problems with the OCS after the recall repairs and/or other OCS related repairs were made by Nissan/Infiniti dealers. The majority of the complaints alleged the passenger air bag status light stays on (i.e., indicating passenger air bag is turned off) for adult front passengers of sufficient weight. Many of the complaints stated the dealers have made multiple repairs but the problem still persists.

In its June 2015 response to ODI's information request under the Recall Query, Nissan provided approximately 1,121 complaints and field reports on the recalled vehicles. These reports alleged OCS issues similar to the NHTSA reports described above. At this time, NHTSA has received a total of approximately 208 complaints (note: total of 1,271 reports shown in the table above eliminates 58 duplicative reports received by ODI and manufacturer).

An Engineering Analysis has been opened to conduct a comparative assessment and further evaluate the effectiveness of the recall remedy which will include a thorough review of the countermeasures taken by Nissan and its suppliers.

The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers:

10583283 10585264 10585349 10585379 10592434 10593399 10593501 10594329 10594614 10594755 10595161 10595645 10595946 10596128 10596459 10596952 10597037 10597452 10597518 10597719 10598537 10598869 10604755 10604834 10605188 10605251 10606565 10606828 10607038 10609649 10610519 10610991 10614467 10614609 10614745 10616905 10617008 10617507 10617903 10618099 10618202 10619059 10619563 10620719 10621840 10622214 10625808 10625981 10625998 10626006 10626023 10626335 10626458 10626732 10628355 10629382 10629460 10629606 10630441 10630502 10630990 10632251 10632588 10632934 10632997 10633714 10633810 10637994 10638591 10639040 10639147 10639324 10639473 10643046 10643843 10644203 10644333 10644341 10644690 10644891 10644985 10648834 10648997 10649414 10649772 10649874 10651360 10651564 10651924 10651982 10652024 10658665 10658844 10659484 10660294 10661195 10661358 10661541 10661795 10661855 10662901 10663033 10663338 10663860 10663978 10668054 10668768 10670538 10672807 10673088 10676471 10678478 10678997 10679512 10680748 10680769 10680975 10681656 10682235 10682902 10682993 10683391 10683689 10689672 10689809 10689981 10691626 10692137 10692558 10692625 10693168 10695312 10700614 10700960 10701008 10701011 10701014 10701018 10701023 10701027 10701031 10701032 10701035 10701045 10701055 10701064 10701074 10701146 10701196 10701228 10701237 10701254 10701301 10701306 10701326 10701367 10701370 10701384 10701415 10701453 10701526 10701558 10701656 10701670 10701946 10702003 10702667 10702798 10703032 10703657 10703766 10703813 10704196 10704988 10705530 10705919 10706621 10712543 10712568 10712575 10713335 10714316 10714330 10714536 10714980 10715132 10715945 10717336 10720918 10720971 10721331 10721746 10723424 10724568 10731167 10731868 10732012 10732065 10733877 10735438 10745948 10745982 10746399 10747660 10748077 10749091 10749110 10758979

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