A growing number of complaints over the issue is prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to expand an investigation involving the two vehicles. It originally included 2013-2014 models and now the NHTSA is adding 360,000 2015 models to the mix.
The agency’s received 24 driver complaints of trim panel interfering with the ability to brake and causing inadvertent acceleration. The agency reports one crash resulting in minor injuries to the driver. In one car, a driver reported that their foot got caught behind the trim panel. The driver had to pull on his or her leg to free the foot, nearly causing a crash. Another complaint filed involves a driver who claims a shoe got caught by the trim panel, which delayed braking.
“In certain rare instances, due to the shape of the center console and a combination of driver foot position and shoe type, a driver’s shoe may contact the edge of the panel and give the driver the impression of slightly delayed transition from throttle to the brake pedal,” Nissan North America said in a statement. “Nissan believes that the drivers are able to make a smooth and unimpeded transition to the brake pedal and there is no safety risk.”
The NHTSA first started looking into complaints surrounding 2013-2014 models last June. According to Automotive News, the agency upgraded its probe last month to include an engineering analysis. An engineering analysis means a preliminary evaluation suggests a vehicle may have a harmful defect.
NHTSA’s new engineering analysis is designed to “assess the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.” It will also use the analysis to look into complaints that the HVAC relay actuator/duct can interfere with the driver’s ability brake. The analysis will either lead to a recall or by taking no action and closing the case.
Meanwhile, the automaker says it’s cooperating with NHTSA and will trim customers’ panels free of charge. In a statement, Nisan said it “received a resume for an Engineering Analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning driver complaints of foot interference in their 2013-2015 Nissan Versa or Versa Note. Nissan is cooperating fully to answer the agency’s questions.”
The 2015 Versa Sedan and Note are now included in the investigation because they may have the same panel design and actuator, duct placement as the 2013-14 models.
Photo Credit: Nissan