After determining these cars may have faulty tie-rods, Nissan has issued a recall affecting more than 236,000 2020-2022 Sentras. According to the announcement, the affected tie-rods are prone to bending and breaking, which can seriously impact the steering system.
The current recall, labeled R23B3, is an expansion of an earlier one issued more than two years ago. The original recall affected more than 138,000 vehicles, but only covered 2020 and 2021 year-model Sentras. The carmaker determined that the issue was caused by the faulty rods’ design and addressed the problem by updating its assembly plant in mid-2020. However, the new announcement shows that Nissan’s initial strategy did not work, and cars made well into 2021 are still impacted.
Upon further investigation, Nissan has determined that the current tie-rod design is prone to bending and shattering after even minor impacts. For example, the carmaker reports that striking a curb too hard can cause the tie-rod to warp or break. Many instances of this defect are found in vehicles with no other obvious damage. Owners must take care when driving to avoid even moderate sudden impacts, including hitting curbs when parking or running over potholes to prevent damage to their tie-rods.
In its announcement, Nissan stated that it is in the process of designing new tie-rods to install in all affected Sentras. However, the design and testing process is not anticipated to be complete until winter 2023-2024.
Owners of affected cars are advised to have them inspected at the dealership to confirm whether their tie-rods are currently bent. If they are, Nissan will replace them for free. Additionally, once the new tie-rod design is finalized and manufactured, all affected owners may bring their cars to their local Nissan dealerships to replace the old, faulty ones at no cost.
This issue is more serious than it may seem. Here’s how to spot the signs of a failing tie-rod in your Nissan Sentra, the risks it poses, and other issues that have haunted this model for the past several years.
3 Signs of Faulty Tie-Rods
It will take some time before Nissan can fix the tie-rod problem for good. However, temporary repairs are available if your Sentra’s steering system is already suffering. If you notice any of the following three symptoms in your 2020-2022 Sentra, take your car to an official dealership for a warranty repair right away:
- Steering Wheel Seem Unresponsive: One of the first signs that a tie-rod is failing is a steering wheel that seems less responsive than it used to be. You may have to turn your wheel further before the car starts to respond; it may feel like there’s a “dead zone” where nothing happens, or the wheel might feel loose and wobbly.
- Steering Wheel Feels “Off-Center”: If a rod is bent, the steering wheel may seem off-center. It may have to be held at an angle for the car to drive straight. A bent tie-rod is more likely to break, so Nissan recommends owners experiencing this to contact their local dealership for transportation to have their cars brought in for repairs rather than driving them directly.
- One Wheel Doesn’t Respond When Turning: When a tie-rod breaks, it can no longer make its wheel turn. When this happens, drivers may lose control of the vehicle because one tire will not respond when they turn the steering wheel. If this happens, drivers should pull over immediately and have their cars transported to the dealership for repair.
Risks of a Bent or Broken Tie-Rod
It’s easy to take a functional steering system for granted, but it’s important to understand the risks if it fails. Your steering system does not just allow you to turn the car; it also prevents the vehicle from turning when you want it to continue in a straight line. When elements start to fail, every part of driving becomes more dangerous.
For example, bent rods prevent drivers from being able to respond to emergencies as quickly as necessary. “Play” or “dead zones” in the steering mean it takes longer before the car reacts when you turn the wheel. This can be the difference between avoiding an accident and getting hit by another driver. It can also cause accidents if drivers don’t realize a rod has bent, so they don’t know they must turn the wheel further to achieve the same result.
Broken rods are even more dangerous. The wheel controlled by that rod is no longer under the driver’s control. Half of the car’s steering power is gone. That makes it significantly more difficult to control the vehicle even in ideal conditions. If the rod breaks after hitting a pothole, it can immediately cause an accident because the now-loose wheel causes the car to turn against the driver’s wishes.
Could Nissan Sentras Be Lemons?
The tie-rod recall is seriously concerning, but does it warrant a Nissan lemon claim? Not on its own. However, it could contribute to a lemon case in combination with other issues. In California, a car may be a lemon if it is still under warranty and the carmaker has failed to fix a manufacturing defect in a reasonable number of attempts. If you’ve had your tie-rods bend or break multiple times despite repairs, or if it has been in the shop for 30 days or more, you might qualify to have your car replaced or refunded. If you think your car might be defective, the next step is to talk to an experienced lemon law attorney. You can contact the experts at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys to discuss your next steps. We have years of experience helping California residents hold carmakers accountable for defective cars. Schedule your consultation today to learn how we can help you get compensation for your faulty Nissan Sentra lemon.