By on September 24, 2008

According to AutoWeek, it’s currently a backlash of one: Scott Weires. The Florida attorney canceled his order for a GT-R after learning that Nissan’s taken the accident data recorder black box thing to a whole new level. “Unlike an EDR [electronic data recorder], which activates only when sensors indicate that a crash is imminent or has occurred, Nissan’s VSDR [vehicle status data recorder] runs constantly, collecting information such as wheel and engine speed. The device, thought to be a first in the automotive industry [tell that to BMW M3 owners], stores more than a few days’ but less than a week’s worth of data on the vehicle’s operation, Nissan says. The VSDR cannot be deactivated.” Never mind speeding, although that’s certainly a worry. It’s all about the warranty. “Nissan specifically warns owners that they could void warranty protection by running a car with its vehicle dynamic control (VDC), governing traction and stability, turned off. (In fairness to Nissan, the owner’s manual does allow owners to defeat VDC when wheelspin is needed to rock a car that’s stuck in snow or mud.)” Sure, that’s fair. And there’s another, justifiable concern: “We do realize that some customers will take their car to the track for all-out driving,” Ed Hibma, senior manager for technical support with Nissan North America. “But racing is different.” Pistonheads will remember (though I can’t recall the exact details) that manufacturers have been known to prowl the internets for racing photos. Paranoid? Consider the fact that the Japanese-spec GTR limits the car to 111 mph– unless the GPS knows you’re on a race track (not racing). Or the GT-R’s 156mph U.S. speed limiter.

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36 Comments on “Nissan GT-R Faces Backlash Over Big Brother Black Box...”

  • avatar

    that manufacturers have been known to prowl the internets for racing photos. ..

    “Internets?” Robert, I thought that only George Bush used the plural with this word. You are way more intelligent that that!! Thanks for the morning chuckle.

  • avatar

    Irony is a bitch.

  • avatar

    It’s fascinating how one can pay a sh*t load of money and then get screwed by the very product that they’ve bought… Irony is indeed a bitch…

  • avatar

    Guaranteed to be subpoenaed.

  • avatar

    The Skylines are a blast in the Forza and other racing simulators.

    In real life though, I don’t know if I’d want to own something as complex as this car. Not only would I be afraid to constantly push the car for fear of breaking something, I’d also have to be concerned about that Black Box recording my every move.

    Summary: In Forza, it’s a blast to drop the clutch on this monster and drift it through corners, run it sideways over curbs and sandpits, and on the grass. In real life, there are real and expensive consequences to these actions with a car as fragile as this one.

    Isn’t the Edumnds Skyline in pieces at the dealership right now?

  • avatar

    I believe the correct term is “interwebs.”

  • avatar

    It’s fascinating to think that someone who blows a rod through the block in an activity that voids his warranty and then expects someone else to pay for it would be mad when he’s ratted out by the very thing that got him there in the first place!

    I know people that have wadded up a car at a track, dragged it out to the street, and paid a tow-truck driver to say “Yup, single car accident.”

  • avatar

    As far as black-box, and the warranty thing is concerned, I do not care that much. Besides, for what it’s worth, the car posted its fastest times around various tracks with the VDC in R-mode. Which is to say VDC was not completely defeated.

    I recall reading that on, “teh Int4rWebz.” (get it right.)

    On the other hand, the idea of buying something that could be used against me is not very settling. Of course, I type this while on a computer connected to the web. Go figure.

    Still, once the warranty expires, you can go to town all you want in your GT-R.

    It is still my favorite car, and the only one I feel I could find as interesting as a motorcycle. By the way, that was just an expression of level of interest, not a comparison between a car and a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    Bad Economy + Black Box Big Brother + Automatic Only + $75,000 purchase price + very very very limited availability = a no go for me.

    I love the looks and the stats on the car….there is just no way to actually GET one.

    Perhaps Nissan can sell a trim level with manual + no special black box…?

  • avatar

    As for proof of MFGRs looking out for themselves for fraudulent warranty claims – think of the 1gen WRX and new owners who put on manual boost controllers to simply turn it up then blowing the engine – removing the equipment and claiming it just failed. There were several idiots who got caught doing this b/c of posting their intent on the message boards.

  • avatar

    I’m not exactly sure I see the problem here.

    Let me get this straight. Scott Weires, Florida attorney, cancelled his order because Nissan installed a device which makes it more difficult for him to commit insurance fraud – which is, after all, what a prohibited warranty claim is.

    Did anyone check to see if this asshole works for the Bush administration?

  • avatar

    Honestly, in this case, I can’t blame Nissan for their black box. The potential for abuse of this vehicle is at least higher than average.

    The question is how Nissan uses the information. If this is only used to disqualify repairs for heavily tracked vehicles, or even obvious track damage, fine. If they screw over owners who may have done a couple hard launches, etc, that’s a horse of entirely different color.

  • avatar


    Are you trying to make the point that all dishonest attourneys work for Bush? Haven’t you heard of Congress? Your state legislature? Being a lying lawyer is certainly a bipartisan affair.

    Seriously, you need to up the level of play if you want to snipe around here.

  • avatar

    That’s not what I had in mind when I said that you pay for something that could screw you. I was thinking more in the lines of driving 15~20 over speed limit (because with such a vehicle it’s easy to do) and getting into trouble. I wouldn’t spend $75K on any vehicle, let alone on one that should be “destroyed” at the track. Then again, I own 2 Hyundai’s, and neither of them see revs over 3,000 rpm too often, and I pretty much never drive them over 80 mph. I just don’t see the point. I believe that the Skyline is just PR for Nissan, because lets be honest, just like any other manufacturer, Nissan builds allot of crap along with some great vehicles.

  • avatar

    I don’t even think it’s a matter of Nissan knowing whether or not you’ve tracked the vehicle, the idea that simply turning off traction control can void your warranty is ridiculous

  • avatar

    I can see Nissan’s interest in protecting itself against fraudulent warranty claims…sure. But, the kind of buyer who gets a GT-R new I don’t think is the fraudster type.

    Personally, I can do without a black recorder box, but think this kind of thing is going to become a disruptive technology in personal transport. The utility of the black-box (plus integrated cameras) recording everything is going to be invaluable for things like he said/she said accidents in traffic court, for example. Using these systems will undoubtedly get a discount for insurance. Cops I think would come to really, really hate cameras on vehicles recording actual conversations with drivers.

    However, every one of us here has committed traffic crimes and violations within the past 24 hours. I’m not talking hoonery either, just driving…there’s so many traffic laws. All the fuzz would have to do, is get the recorder data and in a minute they can cut a ticket for every speeding violation you committed going back however far the thing can remember within the statute of limitations. That’d be a lot of tickets for everyone coming to this site. Think about that and where that rabbit hole goes…creepy stuff.

    I say that as Americans we should let the Brits experiment on themselves this way (they seem much more willing to disregard the individual for the sake of state primacy). The Brits were the first to make their biggest city into a giant Big Brother soundstage, and crime is doing just fine still. The only difference seems to be revenue into the Queen’s coffers, but not much else. Buyer of this crap beware I say.

    I learned this stuff using the googlewebs.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    “Irony is a bitch”

    ah ha ha ha/

    Bravo, Farago.

  • avatar

    First there was the report about Nissan’s “push back” gas pedal, and now this. What the hell is up with Nissan’s Orwellian bender to control driver behavior in their cars?

    Owning a GTR would be like marrying a GPS-enabled cyborg resembling Kate Beckinsale, that only gives hand jobs. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

  • avatar

    Does this mean you’ll drop some iron on the desk during your podcast when talking about Bush?

  • avatar

    So why even build a car with this much performance if you are giving the message that if you drive it at the limit, you will void the warranty? So are the limits too high?

    Why put a traction control override switch in the car at all if it voids the warranty?

    I never supported the notion that any damage to a car at a race track is not insured. Why not? You’re still safer when you run this car on a track than if you try the same thing on the streets.

  • avatar


    My comment had nothing to do with dishonest attorneys and everything to do with assholes.

  • avatar

    Black boxes are something all cars will eventually have. My mechanic friend at the local BMW dealership tells stories of all the warranty work declined because of the data they download, particularly M3’s.
    Of course, he also tells me stories about how they like to test new technologies on customers rather than perfect them in the lab, resulting in the usual European reliability and monster bills.

  • avatar





  • avatar


    Same response applies. It’s a bipartisan failing.

  • avatar

    Nissan’s no dummy. Porsche lost a lawsuit because the Carrera GT didn’t have stability control, and a jury ruled against them and the owners of a track because of it. 500+ hp is nothing to sneeze at and Nissan would just be begging for a lawsuit if they didn’t do everything possible to ensure that this car stays as manageable as possible. The cost of a lost sale greatly outweighs the cost of damages awarded to a driver’s family if they feel Nissan sold their loved one an inherently dangerous car.

  • avatar


    Are you trying to make the point that all dishonest attourneys work for Bush? Haven’t you heard of Congress? Your state legislature? Being a lying lawyer is certainly a bipartisan affair.

    Seriously, you need to up the level of play if you want to snipe around here.

    Stop slapping each other. It’s a car thang…

    Or it was supposed to be..

  • avatar

    How many of these did the Sultan of Brunei order anyway? Or is it just not worth his purchase.

  • avatar
    John R

    Jesus, Nissan, love your car but you guys need to grow a pair.

  • avatar

    I believe most people forget that the design of Japanese cars ARE actually influenced by the Japanese lifestyle.

    IIRC Japan is a country of over 100,000,000 people cramed onto an Island that is the size of California but actually has inhabited living space equivalant to the state of Delware. It is indeed a very crowded place to live and DRIVE. There are no “open roads” in Japan.

    The Japanese are also a for more pactical group of people in the sense that they understand that a passanger car, even a sportscar is still built and sold PRIMARILY as a transportation device. Yes, cars can be fun but they do serve a purpose. This was one of the reasons that until recently the vast majority of Japanese sportcars sold in Japan were 2+2s. A two seat car was/ is considered anti-social and a waste of precious resources.

    Since the Japanese also have a “group” mentality they are tought to think about the “others” around them and how one’s personal actions may effect other peoples lives. The average buyer of a GT-R or any of these other high HP cars in Japan, Europe, or the USA is NOT a professional racecar driver or even a good amatuer. They are for the most part dudes with a good deal of disposable income that simply want a really cool car to look good in or play with. We are talking about 500hp here NOT 250,300, 350 or even 400!

    While the evil, implusive side of me hates the concept of a manufacturer limiting a cars performance, the more enlightened side understands why this makes very good sense. I am sure those victims (and their families) you see on websites like and wish at the end of the day (or life) that someone had limited the power or
    top speed on their car before they “lost it” at above 120mph.

    Put another way, as we watch our economy implode in the USA today we are all wishing that “someone” had the good sense to actually do some oversight over our banking institutions and had possible saved us from greedy little selves!

  • avatar

    In a related GT-R story, two brand new GT-R’s were spotted at a Chicago-area drag strip. While this is not unusual in itself, what is unusual is that these two GT-R’s are pre-delivery models, still sporting the interior protective covering and dealer license plates.

  • avatar

    Almost all cars have some sort of black box these days. Nissan’s implementation concerning warranty claims is a little harsh, I would agree, but not outside the scope of their rights.

    I know that there have been lawsuits where the black box data has been taken from the wrecked cars and used in court to convict people of negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter.

    The points mentioned in the AutoWeek article (and not mentioned here), was the coming proliferation of these devices and who gets to access this data. AW pointed out that the laws say the owner/lessee nominally control the data, but the same laws are rather weak. It seems to me that a midnight session of Congress could change the status without our consent (like many other things) and our trusted steeds would be capable of ratting us out.

    I guess the lawyer was concerned about his civil rights being violated by his choice of car, but it seems soon there won’t be any sanctuary for folks who object. Except maybe a bicycle.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Is this the end of the line to sign-up for an automatic 2008 Elantra?

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t have cancelled my order for a GTR (I’m also saying this because I can’t even afford one) just because it has a black box. It’s nothing new. I remember reading a story back in ’99 about a kid who crashed a Firebird and the car’s black box said he was going far over the speed limit.

    Besides, I don’t hear about any cancelled R8, M3, M5, or M6 orders. IIRC, E46 SMG M3s recorded the number of times launch control has been used. It’s rumored that past a certain number of launches, BMW will void factory warranty (unverified statement)

    whatdoiknow1 : While japan’s automotive selection socioally responsible cultural values are enviable, their economic performance in the last few years is not.

  • avatar

    I know that there have been lawsuits where the black box data has been taken from the wrecked cars and used in court to convict people of negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter.…

    THIS, folks, is what should be the most upsetting to all of us. You buy a car, it has a computer, so why is the data not yours and yours alone. The fact that your car can incriminate you should be of great concern to all of us…

  • avatar

    I would expect greater concern that a device has been installed at your cost on your Japanese car that can only be described as a tool to be used against you in the event of problems that will cause you a lot of money and time.

    Nobody says the data collected is accurate or the parameters for application could be applied incorrectly. But, we all know you will have to prove it is inaccurate or inappropriately applied at costs that probably are beyound your pocket book.

  • avatar

    RE: ande5000

    “Owning a GTR would be like marrying a GPS-enabled cyborg resembling Kate Beckinsale, that only gives hand jobs.”


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