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NHTSA Starts Unintended Acceleration Probe on Nissan Versa Cars

June 30, 2014

On Saturday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it is opening an investigation into Nissan Versa cars over complaints of unintended acceleration.

The agency has opened a preliminary probe into 360,000 Nissan Versa, Versa sedan and Versa Note cars from model years 2012 to 2014 after it has received four reports that the tunnel carpet cover trim panel on the aforementioned vehicles has trapped the edge of the shoe of the driver. With the edge of the shoe trapped on the panel, the driver’s abilities to reduce acceleration as needed and to apply brakes were compromised.

There is a fifth complaint and is filed by a motorist in another country.

According to one complaint filed on June 9th, the driver had to pull their leg free after the trim panel trapped their foot and prevented them from taking their foot off the gas pedal. The incident almost resulted in a crash, as the driver had to use their right hand to hold the leg and free it from the panel. The driver has a photo of how the panel’s edge jammed itself between the sole and the upper part of their leather work boot.

In another complaint, the driver said that their shoe was trapped by the trim panel after trying to remove their foot from the accelerator pedal. The trapping of the shoe prevented the driver from braking a couple of times.

Two of the four reported incidents occurred in rental vehicles.

This latest probe is proof of the agency’s quick action regarding safety complaints. Federal safety regulators now open investigations faster compared to a few years back. In the case of the Nissan Versa cars, they started a probe less than three weeks after receiving the first new report related to the problem since February.

The NHTSA has looked into similar issues in the past. For instance, the agency investigated a floor mat issue involving Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars for four years. It received 52 complaints regarding floor mats in Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ vehicles from the 2008 to 2010 model years. Ford Motor Co. recalled the aforementioned vehicles after the agency recommended a recall.

The NHTSA also spent several years investigating Toyota Motor Corp. for unintended acceleration issues related to defective floor mats, among others. The Japanese automaker eventually recalled millions of vehicles due to the said issue. There are four fatalities, and all are linked to an accelerator pedal trapped by a floor mat.

Nissan spokesman Steve Yaeger said that the company is aware of the issue and will be cooperating with the investigation.

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