Nissan expands Takata air bag recall by 52,000

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Nissan Motor Co. said Saturday it is expanding its recall of vehicles for defective air bags by more than 52,000 — the latest expansion of callbacks linked to faulty Takata parts.

Nissan is following Toyota Motor Corp. in telling dealers that they may deactivate the front passenger air bag if parts are not available and hang a sign warning people not to sit in the seat until the parts are available. General Motors Co. — which is recalling the Toyota-built Pontiac Vibe — said it will not allow its dealers to deactivate the air bags.

Nissan said it is reclassifying 30,000 vehicles that were part of a customer service campaign as a formal recall and adding another 22,738 vehicles in areas of high humidity in the United States. Toyota last month also expanded its recall of Takaka air bags following new testing.

The recall covers the 2003-2005 Infiniti FX35, FX45, 2003-2004 I35, 2006 M35 and M45, 2003-2004 Nissan Pathfinder and 2004-2006 Nissan Sentra.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether the recall of 7.8 million vehicles by 10 major automakers since last year linked to four deaths in Honda vehicles should be expanded by at least another 1.1 million. NHTSA has demanded additional information from Honda and Takata and is pushing automakers to move faster to fix vehicles.

Three U.S. senators want a criminal investigation into Takata, and some think the air bag recalls should be expanded nationwide. Currently, NHTSA says it is most concerned about air bag failures linked to extended exposure to high humidity. Takata air bags have been recalled in more than 16 million vehicles since 2008.

Honda also agreed to reclassify its customer service campaign as a formal recall this week for campaigns covering more than 1 million vehicles. Honda told NHTSA if replacement parts are not available "dealers will work with owners to accomodate" their needs.