79,000+ Nissan LEAF EVs Recalled for Unintended Acceleration

79,000+ Nissan LEAF EVs Recalled for Unintended Acceleration

Nissan has announced a recall of more than 79,000 LEAF electric vehicles due to an error in their vehicle control modules. According to the recall announcement, the carmaker has identified a glitch in the module’s programming that could unintentionally cause affected LEAF EVs to accelerate.

According to the report, in rare circumstances, the glitch will cause a motor torque deceleration delay or even acceleration without the driver’s input. Nissan has not identified any examples of the glitch occurring and causing accidents, but it could happen in any affected vehicle in the right circumstances. 

The recall targets 2018-2023 LEAF cars, which suggests the issue is only found in second-generation vehicles. The recall and repair notices name systems found in multiple trim lines, including Cruise Control, Intelligent Cruise Control, and ProPILOT Assist. The issue appears to be fundamental to the vehicle control module’s programming. It should also be mentioned that there are only about 79,000 total second-generation LEAF EVs on the road in the US, so the recall likely applies to all of them.

The carmaker will mail recall notices to affected vehicle owners at the end of August and reprogram the module for free. Your car is almost certainly affected if you own a second-generation Nissan LEAF. Here’s what you need to know about the acceleration glitch, how to avoid it, and what you can do if you think your LEAF is actually a lemon

How to Trigger (and Avoid) Unintentional Acceleration

The acceleration glitch only occurs if the driver performs a specific series of actions within an eight-second window. According to Nissan’s announcement, affected EVs may speed up without continued driver input if the following occurs:

  • The driver disengages cruise control or ProPILOT Assist.
  • Immediately, the driver changes the driving mode from D to B, turns on the e-Pedal, or engages the ECO mode.
  • The driver taps and immediately releases the acceleration pedal.

If all of these occur in order within eight seconds, the vehicle control model may short-circuit and fail to register the release of the accelerator. As a result, the car will continue to speed up. 

Luckily, this series of events is not common among drivers. However, it could occur naturally in rare circumstances, such as coming upon heavy traffic or leaving the freeway. If you own a second-generation LEAF, it is in your best interest to avoid changing your car’s driving mode or engaging the e-Pedal immediately after turning off cruise control. That small change ensures you don’t risk tapping the accelerator in the same window and triggering the glitch.

Risks of Unintentional Acceleration While Driving

Nissan has issued a voluntary recall to reprogram the vehicle control module because acceleration faults are critical safety risks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets strict requirements for vehicle safety with which all manufacturers must comply. If a manufacturer discovers a flaw in their vehicles that violates these standards, it is obligated to recall and repair the safety problem at no cost to owners. 

Under its federal mandate, the NHTSA has set Standard No. 124, which requires “the return of a vehicle’s throttle to the idle position when the driver removes his or her foot from the accelerator control, or in the event of a severance or disconnection in the accelerator control system.” In other words, if a driver isn’t pressing the accelerator or the acceleration system breaks, the throttle should always return to neutral.

This requirement may seem obvious, but let’s walk through why it’s such a problem if a car continues accelerating without driver control. Drivers have the reasonable expectation that their vehicles will do what they tell them. When you take your foot off the gas, you expect your car to slow down. If it doesn’t do so, what happens? 

At best, you throw on the emergency brake, pull over, and turn off your car before you cause too much damage to the engine. At worst, you hit whatever’s in front of you that caused you to try to slow down in the first place. That could be a traffic slowdown or a pedestrian. You could also lose control over your vehicle on slippery roads, tight curves, or other conditions where you need to slow down. 

That’s why the Nissan LEAF acceleration defect is such a problem. It’s most likely to occur when you turn off cruise control. Most drivers disengage cruise control when they need more control over their car, such as in heavy traffic, entering the city, or during bad weather. Those are the exact circumstances when unexpected acceleration is most likely to cause a serious accident. 

Could Faulty Control Modules Make Your LEAF a Lemon?

A voluntary recall is not grounds for a lemon claim in California on its own. However, it could contribute to one. California law states that car owners have the right to file a lemon claim if their vehicles have manufacturing defects that significantly affect value, safety, or utility, and the manufacturer fails to fix the flaw in a reasonable number of attempts. You may also have a claim if your car is still under warranty and it’s been out of service for 30 or more days while awaiting repairs for manufacturing flaws. If your Nissan LEAF is a 2021 or newer year model that’s constantly in and out of the shop, or if it has another flaw that the dealership just can’t fix, you might have a lemon claim. If so, you could have your car refunded or replaced. The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to talk to the expert California lemon law attorneys at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys. Reach out today to discuss your LEAF and learn whether you have a claim.

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