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Nissan is recalling about 1 million late model cars — including its popular Altima and Sentra sedans — because a software glitch can prevent the front passenger air bag from deploying in an accident.
The recall includes the Nissan Altima, Leaf, Pathfinder, and Sentra from 2013 and 2014 model years. Also recalled are the 2013 Nissan NV200 and Infiniti JX35 and 2014 Infiniti Q50 and QX60 vehicles.
The automaker said a sensor in the recalled vehicles doesn’t always detect when the front passenger seat is occupied and in some instances doesn’t activate the air bag.
Nissan knows of a handful of accidents where this has occurred. It said there have been no fatalities but that it doesn’t know if the problem is linked to any injuries.
The problem started to crop up about a year ago, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA informed Nissan of several complaints, and the automaker looked into the issue.
During its investigation Nissan looked at a crash where the car’s air bag status light was off and the vehicle’s electronic data record showed that sensors believed the seat was empty. But reports from the scene said there was a passenger in the seat at the time of the accident.
Over the next year Nissan found several more crashes where car sensors incorrectly judged that the front seat was not occupied.
Nissan traced the problem to software in the vehicles, which it will now fix for owners.