Why 2013-2017 Nissan / Infiniti Air Bag OCS Occupant Sensors recall notices are dangerous for Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rouge, Pathfinder, Q50, JX35 & QX60 owners

nissanpathfinderNissan’s recent recall for OCS sensor ECUs may be more dangerous than notices appeared. I found out the hard–way. Fortunately, I found out before it was too late.

A few months ago, I received a postcard in the mail from Nissan about an air bag sensor recall, officially called the Occupant Classification System or OCS. It didn’t seem that bad. The wording was such that I was not alarmed. They are working on a remedy and I should wait until I received notice that there is a fix ready from Nissan. I was not aware there is a shortage of parts and that the whole problem could be dangerous.

I seldom have passengers and I don’t drive very far. Two major warnings happened recently that were indications of a major problem with my 2013 Nissan LEAF.

  1. My friend who is slight and tiny and weighs 83 pounds along with my eight pound dog were sitting on the passenger seat and the yellow “No-Airbag” light remained on, indicating that the air bags were shut off.
  2. I put a bag of groceries with two bags of frozen potatoes and ice cream on the seat and the No-Airbags light shut off.  The groceries were light enough to not require an air bag.

The airbags would deploy for french fries  but not for my adult friend in the case of accident!

There is definitely a problem supplying parts because the recall is for 3.2 million cars. What the postcard didn’t say was “the OCS system failures pose serious and potentially life-threatening hazards to both adult and child occupants.” If I was in accident with my friend, her air bag would not deploy.

I called the Nissan Consumer Affairs and number that further explained about the Occupant Classification System Recall

This is voluntary recall for 2013-2017 – Nissan, Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Sentra, Rouge, NV200, NV200 Taxi, Pathfinder, Infiniti Q50, JX35, and QX60 and Chevrolet City Express

In certain vehicles in rare instances the OCS may not perform as designed.

  • Nissan is currently sourcing necessary parts for (Nissan Pathfinder, LEAF or ENV200).
  • The recall only affects the front passenger seat.
  • Never seat a small child in the front seat.
  • If the red light airbag light is on in the instrument cluster, take the car directly to the dealer.
  • If the yellow passenger airbag light is lit after car is started when an adult is in the passenger sear, take the Nissan to dealer immediately.

Here’s where the problem arises, Nissan doesn’t have enough parts on hand to fix all the vehicles. Also, only about half of the cars are affected. Some dealers, I called told me I had to come in for a test which would take a lot of time and is incorrect.

When I spoke to a consumer affairs agent, he said that I had to clearly specify that the yellow passenger air bag light remained on while there was an adult in the seat.

If you have any of the vehicles listed and notice problems with the any passenger airbag warning light take it to the dealer immediately. In the meantime do not allow any one either child or adult to sit in the passenger while you are driving.

The first dealer I called seemed really busy and I was told “We have a lot people waiting for the recall,”. Apparently, she didn’t realize how dangerous the problem is.

Sometimes vehicle recalls are like doctor visits, you have to be own advocate to get the care you need.

The problem with the notice, I received, was that it did not seem urgent. I also don’t recall seeing anything about what to do when the either of the warning lights show.

Date of Recall April 24, 2016

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima, 2013-2016 Nissan Altima, NV200, LEAF, Sentra, and Pathfinder, 2014-2016 Nissan NV200 Taxi, Infiniti QX60, QX60 Hybrid, and Q50 Hybrid, 2014-2017 Nissan Rogue and Infiniti Q50, 2015-2016 Nissan Murano, Murano Hybrid, and Chevrolet City Express, 2014-2015 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, and 2013 Infiniti JX35 vehicles. In these vehicles, the front seat passenger Occupant Classification System (OCS) may incorrectly classify an adult passenger as a child or classify the seat as empty despite it being occupied. As a result, the passenger frontal air bag may be turned off and not deploy in the event of a crash.

If the passenger frontal air bag does not deploy as intended in the event of a crash, the passenger is at an increased risk of injury.

What Owners Should Do

Nissan will notify their owners. Chevrolet City Express owners will be notified by General Motors. Dealers will reprogram the Air Bag Control Unit (ACU) and OCS Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra vehicles, and replace the OCS ECU in LEAF, NV200, NV200 Taxi, Pathfinder, Infiniti Q50, JX35, and QX60 and Chevrolet City Express vehicles, free of charge. Interim notices were sent to owners on May 31, 2016. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669, Infiniti customer service at 1-888-833-3216 or Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020.

Because of the continual news about Takata airbags, this recall didn’t seem to be serious. In this situation the airbags are not supposed to deploy when there are vegetables on the seat but should when there is an adult in the seat. This is the second recall for OCS on the Nissan LEAF.

In the future, when I receive the recall notice I will call the automaker as well as seek out the exact details of the problem.

Update 8/29/2016 – Diana at Ross Nissan in El Monte was able to help me. The car was fixed on Friday. Because it was Friday, it took be close to two hours to get home, which I did not enjoy, but it I am better safe than sorry.



6 thoughts on “Why 2013-2017 Nissan / Infiniti Air Bag OCS Occupant Sensors recall notices are dangerous for Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rouge, Pathfinder, Q50, JX35 & QX60 owners”

    • That could be an indication that the sensor is not working. I would call Nissan and also setup an appointment with a local dealership.

  1. I’ve contacted the media and done a story on this. CTV news 2015 Nissan Murano. “I just don’t feel safe”.

  2. If you go to the NHTSA website and search AIRBAG against Nissan, you will find 67 customer complaints on the OCS sensor system. You will also find the issue dates as far back as 2003!

    People, including myself, are getting the recall addressed only for the issue to continue. I am going through arbitration against Nissan Canada for this exact reason. Be safe. Research. Your not alone.

  3. It is ridiculous that Takata Co. is still in business. Has Japan forgotten how to manufacture things? If so they may as well give up on participating in the global economy. I had a heart attack in June and now my weight (which fell by 8 pounds) is not enough to turn out the passenger side light in our 2013 Altima. What am i supposed to do? I think that the Recall notice I have is the third one we’ve gotten. I am nervous enough sitting in the passenger seat so that I could have another heart attack. My medical demands have prevented me from making an appointment with our dealer who apparently has fixed Takata”s debacle twice already on my car.

    Is Takata the only bag manufacturer in the world?


    • This issue is separate from the Takata air bags. You’re best bet is to sit in the back seat and not the passenger seat. This is only if the yellow center stack or red dash lights for airbags turn on, on your Nissan vehicle. Some dealerships provide trasportation or a rental car. Also I spoke with a safety expert if you weigh 83 pounds normally the light should not be on this is problem with the system. It is still safe for you to drive the car in the driver’s seat.

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