Feds Open Probe Into 2013 Infiniti JX35 For Faulty Emergency Brake Application

August 2, 2012

Following two consumer complaints about their 2013 Infiniti JX35 crossovers abruptly stopping on a certain bridge – coincidentally, the same bridge – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into a potential defect involving the luxury crossover’s emergency braking application, known as intelligent brake-assist or IBA.

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) describes the problem as “false surveillance of the vehicle’s environment activates emergency braking bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.” At this point, it’s just a preliminary evaluation to determine if there is sufficient reason to elevate the matter to a recall. The population of potentially affected vehicles is listed as 8,000.

2013 Infiniti JX

2013 Infiniti JX

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What happened

According to the consumer complaints, there was no precipitating event or imminent collision with a vehicle in front. Yet the JX35 vehicles in both complaints came to a sudden and complete stop on the bridge. Also, in both complaints, a young child was with the driver on two occasions (one consumer had the problem occur twice) when the JX35 abruptly stopped. Fortunately, there were no collisions and no one was hurt.

The first complaint involved a 2013 Infiniti JX35 that was purchased in April 2012. A little over one month later, the consumer, accompanied by a two-year-old daughter, experienced the sudden emergency braking application. Two weeks after this incident, accompanied by the consumer’s mother and daughter, it happened again.

The second complaint involved a 24-week pregnant young mother driving a JX35 leased in June 2012. The same type of emergency braking application occurred on a bridge one month later, in July 2012. Her seven-year-old daughter was with her at the time. In her complaint, the young mother said she leased the JX35 because of its “many, many safety features.” Incidentally, when the consumer brought her vehicle to the dealer, she was told that “this particular bridge is the only culprit in the entire country because it has too much metal.”  

The bridge, by the way, has not been identified. A Nissan spokesman told The Detroit News that Nissan is aware of the problem, that it occurred on the same bridge, and the company is working on a solution. He also said “the system works” and is not a safety matter and that Nissan is not issuing a recall to address the problem.

Nissan has touted the JX35, an all-new, three-row crossover from its luxury division, Infiniti, as a showcase of safety technology – including automatic braking that works with an active cruise control system to prevent collisions.

But, as an article in the Wall Street Journal points out, other carmakers that are planning to roll out similar technology will likely be watching this investigation closely. In addition, says WSJ, skeptics of autonomous safety technology – such as lane keeping, automatic braking and other features – may use this as an opportunity to warn that such technology may create as many problems as it solves.

What do you think? Are these isolated complaints, or indicative of some sort of glitch that warrants further attention? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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