April 29, 2016 / 6:21 PM / a year ago

Nissan to recall 3.53 million vehicles: air bags may not deploy

A man walks past the logo of Nissan Motor Co. at the company's showroom in Yokohama, south of Tokyo June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd said on Friday it will recall 3.53 million vehicles, most in the United States, citing passenger-side air bags that may not work properly because vehicle sensors may malfunction.

The Japanese automaker said this is the fourth recall since 2013 to address problems with occupant classification systems that may fail to properly identify adult front seat passengers.

The system may improperly classify an adult front seat passenger as a child or as an empty seat, a failure that could lead to an air bag failing to deploy in the event of a crash. Nissan has reports of three injuries linked to the issue but no fatalities.

The new recall includes vehicles from the 2013-2017 model years, including some Nissan Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Sentra, Rogue, NV200, NV Taxi, Infiniti JX35/QX60, and Q50. It also includes the 2015-2016 Chevrolet City Express, built for General Motors Co by Nissan.

Nearly 3.2 million of the recalled vehicles are in the United States.

“The planned remedy varies by vehicle and will include software reprogramming in some models and hardware replacement in other models,” Nissan spokesman David Reuter said. Nissan said it is currently developing its remedy plan and will begin notifying dealers in late May.

Only about 20 percent of the U.S. models will need a hardware fix, Nissan said.

Nissan said that 622,110 Sentra cars, part of the recall announced on Friday, are also the subject of a second recall, because the front passenger seat belt bracket may become deformed if it is used to secure a child restraint system. Nissan dealers will reinforce the seat belt bracket.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration upgraded an investigation in August 2015 into the air bag deployment issue after reviewing 1,271 complaints and warranty claims to determine whether a prior Nissan recall adequately addressed the problem.

Most complaints from owners with repaired vehicles said the air bag deactivation light remained on even with an adult in the front seat.

Nissan has issued several earlier recalls for occupant classification system issues in the United States in recent years. In 2014, the automaker recalled 990,000 U.S. vehicles to address the issue, expanding on a 2013 callback. It also recalled 920 U.S. vehicles in October 2015.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky

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