The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the Nissan Versa from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 model years. The probe includes all three versions of the Versa: the hatchback, the sedan, and the Note.
To date, NHTSA has received at least four complaints from owners who claim that a trim panel adjacent to the Versa's accelerator has snagged the edge of their shoes while driving, which has caused them to keep accelerating. Since most drivers are in the habit of using their right foot for braking, too, the panel has impeded their ability to brake in a timely manner.
As you can see in illustrations found on page two of the investigation notice (PDF), the panel seems designed in such a way that it can hook the gap where a shoe's sole meets the upper. In at least one instance, a driver reported having to reach down and lift up the trim panel to release the shoe. Thankfully though, there have been no accidents or injuries associated with the problem.
This is the second NHTSA probe of the Nissan Versa related to acceleration and braking that has been launched in the past couple of months. The first was associated with brake pedal travel on 2013 and 2014 models. Both investigations are still in the Preliminary Evaluation phase.
If either probe reveals consistent cause for concern, it will move on to phase two, the Engineering Analysis, where engineers will test the Versa to see if they can recreate the problem for themselves. If they can, NHTSA may very well request a full recall. Should that happen for this new probe, it would affect roughly 360,000 vehicles registered in the U.S.
We'll keep you posted.