NHTSA Investigation Shows Moderate to Severe Eye Injury Nearly 300 Times Greater Than In Other Cars
After a protracted safety defect investigation that began in March 2001, Nissan has agreed to replace the passenger airbag in 1994 to 1995 Altima’s made through March 2, 1995 which has caused moderate to severe eye injury in at 37 people. In comparison, NHTSA found only 2 reports of moderate to severe eye injury in "crashes involving 20 other passenger car models that are relatively similar to the Altima, representing approximately four million vehicles manufactured in 1994-95." Faced with a agency that intended to prosecute the investigation, " Nissan informed NHTSA that it will conduct a campaign under which it will offer a replacement air bag, free of charge, to all owners of the subject vehicles. The . . . replacement air bag will be a depowered air bag that differs from the original air bag in several respects. The replacement module has a different inflator type, and there is less inflator power. The air bag volume is also reduced, and it has a different bag shape, excursion length, and fold pattern compared to the original air bag."
CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow said:
"The 1994-95 Altima airbag can and has caused retinal detachments and ruptured eye globes. For a defect that doesn’t cause death, this is one of the worst ever. At least two passengers in these cars have suffered permanent blindness in both eyes which could have been avoided if Nissan had agreed to replace the airbag earlier. Today’s action will cost Nissan over $100 million which is clearly a major factor in the company dragging its feet on a recall. But sight is priceless. The Center urges all 1994-95 Nissan Altima owners covered by the replacement campaign to get their passenger airbags replaced as soon as possible. Until they can them replaced, CAS advises consumers to have passengers ride in the rear to ensure no one else is blinded by this tragic defect."