March 13, 2017—Nearly 55,000 model year 2012 Nissan Versa cars are being recalled following a federal investigation into side airbags that deploy when the car doors are slammed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation in October 2016 after Versa owners complained about driver and passenger curtain and seat-mounted side airbags that deployed when shutting the front doors.
Nissan determined the wrong combination of metals was used in the side airbag sensor connector harness, causing oxidation on the pins of the airbag control unit harness connection. The oxidation on the connector pins can cause a short loss of communication from the satellite sensor to the airbag control unit.
The Nissan Versa curtain and seat-mounted side airbag system will enter a backup mode when signal loss occurs and this backup mode allows the curtain and seat-mountain side airbags to deploy as intended in a crash. However, the backup mode that kicks in from signal loss changes the requirements that must be met for the airbags to deploy, so simply slamming the doors can activate the airbags.
Typically the force needed to activate the airbags can only come from someone slamming a door from the outside, but real hazards exist if an occupant is inside the car when the airbags deploys.