By on August 10, 2020


Advanced driving aids have been slighted once again. This time, the Center for Auto Safety is asking Nissan to issue a safety recall on several models it believes have received too many customer complaints about their automatic emergency braking systems.

It also claims the manufacturer is already aware of the situation, after filing an public-information requests that showed Nissan being in possession of more than 1,400 complaints and field reports alleging the systems are activating when they shouldn’t. The company is also on the receiving end of some lawsuits over the matter.

We’d hate to harp on Nissan more than necessary. The manufacturer already has a laundry list of problems it’s hoping to solve, and there’s clear evidence that advanced driving aids are acting goofy across the board — especially as they become more commonplace. Last week, we reported on another AAA assessment encompassing multiple brands that once again showed just how reliable these electronic nannies aren’t.

However, the Center for Auto Safety is singularly focused on false positives for the braking system. Customers report cars slamming on the brakes at highway speeds with no obstacle posing any immediate danger.

It wants a recall, and soon.

“False braking not only endangers the occupants of the Nissan vehicle but puts all surrounding road users at risk,” Jason Levine, executive director of the safety advocacy group, said on Thursday. “It undermines consumer trust in the long-term safety benefits of such technology.”

According to Automotive News, the Center for Auto Safety requested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigate the situation based off 87 customer complaints issued prior to March of 2019. The NHTSA agreed and the number of complaints skyrocketed, encouraging the safety group to renew suggestions that a recall is in order.

From AN:

In written complaints contained within the federal agency’s database, motorists describe instances of abrupt braking at highway speeds. Specific types of infrastructure also appeared to be triggers for problems — bridges, railroad tracks and parking garages, for example. Some consumers reported multiple instances of the phantom braking.

This June, Nissan submitted documents to NHTSA that acknowledged 1,233 consumer complaints related to the problem, which came from owners of the Rogue, Rogue Sport and Sentra sedan. Nissan said it knew of at least 30 allegations of “minor collisions” stemming from automatic emergency braking incidents, and 10 reports alleging “minor injuries.” Between consumer complaints and field reports, Nissan listed 1,460 unique VIN records related to allegations of the braking problems.

Those come from Rogue and Rogue Sport vehicles produced in the 2017 to 2020 model years, and Sentras made in the 2018 and 2019 model years.

To date, the automaker has issued technical service bulletins and a service campaign that address the problem and says customers can take their vehicles to dealerships for software updates.

Nissan has been adamant that it’s working with the NHTSA to address the issue and is committed to product safety, but the Center for Auto Safety doesn’t believe enough has been done since 2019. It wants to see the units recalled.

“Service campaigns are a weak shadow of safety recalls,” said Levine. “They do not require the same notification of consumers, are not easily searchable by new owners of used vehicles and require no long-term reporting by the manufacturer to ensure successful repair rates.”

[Image: Nissan]

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10 Comments on “Center for Auto Safety Asks Nissan to Brake Check Itself...”

  • avatar

    As I understand it, the automatic braking is completely automatic, you can’t turn it off. That’s outrageous, since a malfunction is far more serious than a malfunctioning lane departure warning system, which doesn’t DO anything but warn, and the irritating warning can be turned off.

    I’m astounded that the NHTSA even allowed the installation of any device that takes a basic motoring function out of the driver’s hands. If there’s a way to disable automatic braking, it should be mandated until, at least, the driver has the option of turning it off.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know about other cars but the GM vehicle I had I was able to enable/disable the feature thru the vehicle settings menu.

      My automatic braking could be activated by expansion joints in parking garages, highway bridges in the distance, and parked cars if the road was at all curvy.

      The worst was in a bowl-shaped section of road where I would routinely drive. Straight ahead of me was a bridge I would never hit because of the depression in the road, but the danged sensor was convinced we’d hit the bridge deck. It would sound the alarm and blink the lights but luckily I was always driving fast enough to have the bridge drop from sensor view just before it would slam on the brakes.

      Even the lane keep assist was annoying. If a truck was too close to the line in an adjacent lane I’d move over to keep adequate side clearance. Sometimes the lanes were really narrow so the LKA would bump the steering wheel back towards the centerline and move me too close to the adjacent truck for comfort. I get that it can see the line, but why can’t it see the multi-ton object I’m trying to avoid?

      • 0 avatar

        “the LKA would bump the steering wheel back towards the centerline and move me too close to the adjacent truck for comfort. I get that it can see the line, but why can’t it see the multi-ton object I’m trying to avoid?”

        Fascinating point. I wish the organizations pushing for these technologies and the corporations developing them would listen to stories like yours.

  • avatar

    These safety nanny features aren’t just for marketing. They need to actually work correctly too. I personally would pay extra money to *not* have these features.

  • avatar

    Sounds like they are pushing these things out the door half developed. I guess that’s a sign of the times: Why do it right when you can do it faster instead?

    I think a safety device cars need is a large, round, red OFF button (think industrial machinery) that cuts the power to either the ignition or fuel injection by mechanically breaking the circuit that feeds it power. It gives me the bloody creeps that all of this modern electronic junk leaves you with no positive way to completely shut it off.

  • avatar

    Last year, my mother-in-law had a 2018 Altima as an insurance rental, after she’d totaled her 2016 Camry XLE (she ended up buying basically an identical XLE, except this time a 2017). I drove her and my around in the Altima, searching for a replacement Camry, and driving on urban freeways, the automatic emergency braking light in the speedometer came on several times when other cars were passing us, or we drove along a guardrail or New Jersey barrier. The brakes never activated, but the light came on, and a tone sounded. The light would stay lit for up to two minutes.

    The Altima’s blind spot monitoring was different, too. Instead of putting the warning indicators in the mirror glass, they used a light shaped like a Mike n’ Ike candy, in the trim piece behind the mirror mounting on each side.

    On all the cars I’ve driven with a AEB (said Altima, and also 2018 and 2010 Corollas), the system could be disabled in the vehicle settings. I don’t know about Nissan’s system, but according the the Toyota owners manuals, their system will only activate at 23 mph and above.

  • avatar

    It is like my wife. She often scares my into hitting brakes.

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