NHTSA Probing Nissan Rogues That Brake for No Reason

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Nissan added automatic emergency braking as standard equipment on eight popular models for the 2018 model year, looking to get a jump on the pact forged in 2016 that calls for mandatory AEB on all cars and light trucks by 2020.

That pact, covering 20 automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is already bearing fruit. Just last month, the NHTSA congratulated a slew of automakers, including Nissan, for including the safety feature on the majority of their vehicles.

One month later, and the NHTSA finds itself investigating Nissan for a potential fault with its AEB system.

The federal agency opened an investigation on April 8th, focusing on the 2017 and 2018 Nissan Rogue crossover, after being alerted by the Center for Auto Safety. The defect petition filed by CAS contains 87 complaints submitted to regulators in recent months, with the safety group calling for a formal probe into the issue.

It got its wish. According to the regulator, the petition contains 10 specific complaints “related to the AEB system engaging with no obstruction in the path of the vehicle.”

CAS finds fault in Nissan’s response to the complaints, saying the automaker treated it as a service issue, not a safety one. The NHTSA report states “the manufacturer is aware of the alleged issue due to issuing a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) and launching two “Quality Actions,” and initiating a “Customer Service Initiative” in relation to it. The petitioner alleges that Nissan’s actions do not represent an adequate long-term solution to the problem.”

As with most other investigations, the NHTSA probe aims to determine whether a recall is required.

The probe covers 674,472 Rogues sold for the 2017 and 2018 model years. While no known accidents or injuries are associated with the issue, some of the complaints cite close calls.

“This has led to 2 near misses,” one 2018 Rogue owner wrote. “Once, the car just stopped in the road. I thought it might have misinterpreted a snow pile. Then, driving over a train crossing, the car just stopped. Luckily I was able to get it moving before a train came. Very scary!”

The customer service initiative launched earlier this year called attention to an update Nissan made available for the AEB system, but CAS claims it downplays the threat to public safety. It’s a voluntary update available to those whose Rogues are under warranty, but there’s no guarantee all owners will take Nissan up on the offer. A recall would make it mandatory.

“As always, Nissan will continue to work collaboratively with NHTSA and Transport Canada on all matters of product safety,” Nissan said in a statement reported by Automotive News.

AEB is relatively new technology, and faults can be expected. Sometimes a system works too well and identifies objects as dangers when it shouldn’t. The overseas-market Suzuki Jimny recently ran into this trouble, with the AEB wonkiness only detectable on twisty roads bordered by a guardrail. Still, it’s up to the automaker to ensure the public feels safe having this type of automated intervention in their vehicle.

[Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
4 of 28 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 13, 2019

    Tesla's Autopilot needs more of this behavior. Think of the poor firetrucks!

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Apr 13, 2019

      I’d be happy if people didn’t lose their heads over the various possibilities! :-D

  • Fshock Fshock on Apr 14, 2019

    "Sometimes a system works too well and identifies objects as dangers when it shouldn’t." In the real world this is known as 'not working well' or simply 'broken'.

    • CobraJet CobraJet on Apr 15, 2019

      My 2017 Buick Lacrosse has a warning system, but no automatic braking. Last week I was on a two-lane highway at dusk. I was meeting three cars in a row with their headlights on. As they approached, the warning system went off. The dash cluster and heads up display started flashing a blinding red signal. I hit the brakes and headed for the shoulder, assuming someone was coming at me head-on without lights. However, there was no car there. Everything was fine. Very scary.

  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.
  • 28-Cars-Later I thought today's young people weren't even getting licenses to drive, so which is it?