The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched another investigation of the Nissan Versa* -- this time, focused on model-years 2008 to 2010. According to a NHTSA bulletin, those vehicles may suffer from a suspension problem that could cause damage to tires or even reduce braking power.
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The problem appears to lie in the front suspension coil spring. NHTSA has received at least 93 reports from owners who say that the spring has fractured without warning while the Versa was in motion. When it breaks, the spring can puncture a tire, damage the Versa's brake line, or both. The agency says that:
"One complaint (VOQ #10663102) reported the passenger-side coil spring fractured while traveling at 65 mph and caused a sudden tire failure by cutting the inner sidewall 360 degrees. Another complaint ( VOQ #10680740) reported the passenger side coil spring fractured while traveling 40 mph and result [sic] in tire puncture and brake line failure."
In addition to the 93 complaints, NHTSA has received one report of a crash or fire. Nissan hasn't yet shared data on complaints with NHTSA.
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The Versa investigation is now in the Preliminary Evaluation phase, which essentially means that NHTSA has gathered enough data from owners to warrant a proper probe. The agency will now work with Nissan to evaluate complaints to verify whether or not there's an underlying, persistent problem that's to blame.
Depending on how the investigation goes, it could move to phase two, the Engineering Analysis, in which NHTSA would attempt to recreate problem conditions in a lab setting. Those findings would determine whether or not NHTSA requests a full or partial recall of the Versa. If it does, it could affect as many as 130,000 vehicles registered in the U.S.