Will Nissan Recall Woes Mirror GM’s Recall?

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Just when Nissan was making some headway with new car sales, the company has begun a voluntary recall program of nearly a million 2013 and 2014 Altimas, Leafs, Pathfinders and Sentras. The company’s Infiniti luxury car division is also included in that total.

The issue is the software system that determines whether the passenger seat is occupied may not detect an adult passenger and may classify the seat as unoccupied. If that happens, the passenger-side air bag will not deploy and the air bag status light does not come on.

There have been only a handful of reports from consumers related to this issue, and no fatalities due to the defect have been identified. Nissan does not know if the defect is responsible for any injuries.

The company is recalling 544,000 model years 2013 and 2014 Nissan Altimas built between March 2012 and February 2014. More than 182,000 Nissan Sentras of the same model years built between August 2012 and February 2014 and 124,000 Nissan Pathfinders from the same model years built between June 2012 and February 2014 are also included.

Infiniti models JX35 from model year 2013 and QX 50 and QX60 from model year 2014, totaling another 100,000 vehicles, are also included.

Nissan’s total sales rose nearly 11% in 2013, according to Kelley Blue Book, while Infiniti sales were down nearly 3%. To the end of February, Nissan’s sales were up nearly 14% year-over-year and Infiniti sales were up more than 15%.

Nissan’s massive recall joins General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), which has recalled 1.6 million vehicles for an ignition switch defect, and Honda Motor Corp. (NYSE: HMC), which recalled 900,000 minivans already this year. Chrysler has also recalled about 19,000 Fiat vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) just settled a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department by agreeing to pay $1.2 billion.