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Nissan AEB Defects

Nissan car

Vehicle manufacturers have developed and deployed numerous advanced driver assistance systems -- known as ADAS -- in recent years. These "smart" systems utilize a variety of sensors that gather information from the surrounding environment and feed that sensor data into computers that make decisions to automatically brake, steer, throttle, or otherwise change a vehicle's movement. These smart-systems have undoubtedly saved numerous lives by making safety decisions more rapidly than a human driver possibly could. Unfortunately, however, some of these systems have inherent design and/or manufacturing defects that may have introduced new risks to drivers and passengers. Nissan AEB defects involve problems observed with the "Automated Emergency Braking" ADAS systems in recent Nissan models.

How Are Alleged Nissan AEB Defects Impacting Function?

The Nissan Automated Emergency Braking system uses radar sensors mounted on vehicle front grills that send and receive radar signals that bounce off objects in front of the vehicle. To function as intended and help prevent collisions, the system must accurately detect the presence of other vehicles or other objects in the roadway ahead, assess the location and relative speed of those objects, and cause the Nissan vehicle to brake if a collision with another vehicle or object is imminent. Complaints about the AEB system have centered upon two types of malfunctions:

  • System De-Activation. When this occurs, the AEB system simply stops functioning -- drivers will typically receive a notice informing them that the "front radar (is) unavailable due to obstruction. . .," while at the same time the AEB braking feature and the vehicle's cruise control are both disabled.
  • System False-Positives. When the system is active and a false-positive occurs, it means that the vehicle's AEB system has identified an object ahead as a possible collision, when in fact, the object either doesn't exist or doesn't pose any risk of collision. In this instance, the AEB system may cause the Nissan vehicle to suddenly and automatically brake for no actual reason, producing other risks such as a driver behind the Nissan being taken by surprise and colliding with it, or the Nissan's driver being startled by the sudden braking and making some steering maneuver that is dangerous.
What Are the Symptoms of Nissan AEB Defects?

Depending upon the possible failure modes of the radar sensors, symptoms of Nissan AEB defects may include:

  • Vehicle messages such as the one described above indicate that the front radar isn't working and/or that cruise control is unavailable.
  • Unexpected slowing or stalls when the vehicle is moving at slow speeds, especially when parking the vehicle or maneuvering through garages and parking lots. Because there are frequently nearby vehicles and other objects in these types of environments, the AEB system isn't supposed to activate until the vehicle is moving faster than about 15 mph. If it incorrectly activates at slow speeds, it can result in braking, slowing, and/or stalling.
  • Problems starting. If the sensor is incorrectly triggered, it can cause the vehicle engine to start, but then suddenly shut down again within seconds.
  • Sudden braking and stops at speed. If the vehicle is moving at a speed faster than the approximately 15 mph system activation speed and the AEB system detects a non-existent danger ahead, it may suddenly brake, resulting in the obvious dangers of a sudden and unexpected stop in traffic.

Complaints indicate structures such as bridges, roadway signs, and railway crossings may all have initiated sudden, unintended braking.

What Is Being Done About Nissan AEB Defects?

Actions have been taken by independent organizations, regulators, attorneys, and Nissan itself over the alleged defects.

After receiving numerous complaints, the independent organization Center for Auto Safety petitioned U.S. regulators in 2020 to investigate complaints regarding the AEB systems in several Nissan models, but particularly in the 2017 and 2018 Nissan Rogue. Consumer Reports earlier reported 87 complaints had been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over unintended braking in those two models of the Rogue.

Subsequently, NHTSA's investigation revealed that more than 1,400 complaints had been made to Nissan over the AEB problem with the Rogue alone. Transport Canada -- the Canadian equivalent of NHTSA -- required Nissan Canada to recall approximately 91,000 Rogue vehicles from 2017 and 2018 for correction of this problem. Despite this, NHTSA has not yet required a U.S. recall of any Nissans over the AEB problems.

Individual and class action lawsuits have been initiated in the U.S. over the defects, including a recent, large consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed in Tennesse alleging that Nissan was not only aware of the AEB problems in the earlier model year vehicles, but that it has continued placing the systems in later models despite this knowledge.

Nissan itself has sought to remedy the situation with a "service campaign" rather than a recall. Service campaigns are much less effective than recalls at fixing known problems. Service campaigns do not have as much outreach to vehicle owners to notify them of defects needing repair, and they allow the manufacturer to actually charge consumers for the needed repairs rather than performing the fixes for free, as is required under a recall.

What if I am Injured by a Nissan AEB Defect?

Although these crash avoidance technologies can certainly have safety benefits, they also introduce complex new systems which can themselves introduce new risks. Individuals who are injured in a car crash that result from defects in the design and manufacture of the vehicles may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the incident. Auto defect cases -- such as those involving these driver assistance technologies -- tend to be complex and challenging, and an experienced personal injury attorney is best positioned to help those who may be injured by a defective automobile receive compensation.

View this video discussing the Nissan AEB problems, dangers, and difficulty of getting repairs:

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