Nissan is recalling more than 218,000 Nissan Versa vehicles from model years 2007 to 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that some of those cars may suffer from corrosion problems, which could in turn, pose a threat to their tires.
The corrosion issue affects the Versa's front coil springs, which were manufactured in Mexico by ThyssenKrupp Bilstein Sasa S.A. de C.V. As NHTSA explains in a defect report:
Due to a manufacturing process variation at the spring supplier that has since been corrected, certain model year 2007-2012 Nissan Versa vehicles may contain front coil springs that a) received inadequate phosphorous coating, or b) may have low residual stress in the coil springs, or a combination of both mechanisms. In extreme cases, the inadequate coating condition could lead to crack initiation. More specifically, coil-to-coil contact when the spring is compressed could lead to surface imperfections in the coils thereby potentially initiating a crack. Subsequently, in areas where there is extensive use of road salt for snow and ice control, the road salt could then come in direct contact with the imperfections on the coil spring and, over time, could result in crack propagation in the spring. In rare instances spring breakage could occur.
In other words, the Versa's springs have some integrity issues, which can be worsened by corrosion. If a spring fails, it could come in contact with a tire, puncturing it and making the vehicle harder to control.
The good news is that Nissan knows of no damage, crashes, or injuries linked to the issue. The better news is that in most cases, even if a spring breaks and a tire is damaged, testing shows that drivers should be able to maintain control of their vehicles.
The best news is that if this is a problem in your vehicle, you should receive a good bit of advance warning. A car with a damaged or broken spring has a visibly different posture from other vehicles. Also, the spring creates a good bit of noise.
The recall is limited to Nissan Versa vehicles built between May 8, 2006 and November 12, 2012. As with many corrosion-related recalls, this one focuses on vehicles sold or registered in cold-weather areas that use salts for de-icing roads. Those areas include Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
All told, the recall affects 218,019 Nissan vehicles registered in the U.S.
Nissan says that it will mail recall notices to owners by mid-November. At that time, owners will be able to take their vehicles to Nissan dealers, who will replace both front coil springs at no charge.
Questions? Start by contacting Nissan customer service at 800-647-7261. You can also call NHTSA directly at 888-327-4236 and ask about recall #15V573000.