Last summer, we told you about an investigation of the 2012-2014 Nissan Versa, including the Versa hatchback, sedan, and Note. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now upgraded that investigation, and in the process, it's shifted its attention to 2013-2015 models of the Versa sedan and Note.
The problem with the Versa seems to be a design flaw that can force drivers to accelerate when they want to apply the brakes. As we said in June:
"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."
"Drivers describe incidents of interference between the tunnel carpet cover trim panel and/or the HVAC relay actuator with the driver's right shoe when attempting to release the accelerator pedal, allegedly resulting in delayed brake application and sometimes brief incidents of unwanted acceleration as the driver tries to free their foot."
NHTSA's preliminary evaluation revealed enough problems with the Versa's design to move the investigation to stage two, the engineering analysis, where NHTSA will attempt to recreate the problem in lab settings. The agency has added model-year 2015 vehicles to the probe because of design similarities to previous versions, however, the Versa hatchback seems to have removed altogether, as have all 2012 models.
Depending on how the engineering analysis goes, NHTSA may request a recall of some or all 2013-2015 Nissan Versas, or it could close the probe entirely. A full recall would affect roughly 360,000 vehicles registered in the U.S.