— A Nissan Altima lower control arm replacement campaign created by the automaker may not be enough as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released additional information about an ongoing investigation.
Federal safety regulators originally opened an investigation into fractured lower control arms in 2013 Nissan Altima cars after four complaints were made to the agency.
Altima drivers complain of suddenly experiencing control problems as the rear lower control arms break.
"I was driving my vehicle down a city street at approximately 35 miles per hour, when the rear end of the vehicle suddenly started making a rubbing noise and the vehicle almost lost control from swerving. I was able to get the vehicle back home, and my boyfriend put the rear end up on a jack and determined that the passenger side rear support arm was broken."
"The control arm broke while I was moving at 65 mph on the highway. The car become extremely difficult to control, as if I were sliding on ice, however it is june 2019. I was lucky that I wasn't injured or killed. This should not happen with a 2013 model year. I feel that the nissan products are not safe."
The automaker admits the rear lower control arms can crack due to normal use, then get much worse from corrosion caused by the use of road salt in the winter. Nissan also says drivers easily recognize if fractures occur and the cars remain controllable and can be safely stopped.
NHTSA learned during the initial investigation that although only the 2013 Altima was first involved, Nissan used a similar design for 2014-2018 Altima lower control arms.
This increased the number of vehicles involved in the investigation from 374,000 to more than 2 million cars which includes all Altimas between 2013 and 2018.
And while the investigation got underway based on just four complaints, NHTSA now says an additional 87 complaints have been filed about fractured lower control arms and the cost for replacements.
Nissan Altima owners say corrosion causes the lower control arms to separate at the connecting points to the bodies of the cars, often when the cars are in motion.
As seen in the sampling of complaints above, Altima drivers complain about their cars having control problems once the control arms break, but NHTSA says to date no crashes or injuries have been reported.
And in addition to the 87 complaints filed with the government, Nissan reported warranty and complaint data showing 48 incidents of broken lower control arms.
According to Nissan, lower control arm problems aren't considered a safety risk because of the "low incident rate, high detectability, and low risk of adverse vehicle dynamics."
Obviously Altima drivers don't see things the same way, and NHTSA says it's stepping up its investigation regarding the potential safety consequences of busted control arms.
Safety regulators acknowledge Nissan created a customer service campaign for Altima owners in Canada, 22 states and the District of Columbia, but the campaign covers only 176,000 model year 2013 Nissan Altimas in the U.S. and 8,000 model year 2013-2014 Altimas in Canada.