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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Video of wife sitting upright and in position in passenger front seat with belt on, and passenger airbag light ON. This was on for 5 minutes until I stopped the vehicle had her get out and then get back in.

Nissan Consumer's hotline response? "Since the dealer can not reproduce the problem, there is nothing to fix and it is not a warranty issue."

My response: Does Nissan find it acceptable to have an airbag system that randomly does not work as per Federal Regulations?

Nissan Consumer's hotline response: they refused to respond.

Requested that a corporate tech be sent out to review system, so far no response.
 

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I have had the same problem with the airbag light coming on while my wife is in the passenger seat. This is following the occupant sensor recall. I am able to reset it by pulling over, putting the vehicle in park, and turning the vehicle off and back on. Mine is in for the torque converter now and I asked them to take a look at the airbag system while it is there.
 

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@lewist57, I don't get why they are being so difficult. I had the same airbag light issue as well which I had the dealership address while they had it for the torque conv replacement and the dealer gave me the same "we couldn't reproduce the issue" BS yet they still ended up performing a "zero point reset" of the system and that has fixed the problem, they gave me no hassle. You mentioned consulting your lawyer in another thread which is what I would be doing as well by this point. I got my issues resolved fairly easily but many others I've noticed, like you, seem to be getting the run-around from Nissan, which is totally ridiculous on Nissan's part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
[I guess I can't upload the video, perhaps the moderator can provide instructions on how to upload for viewing]

There is a much bigger issue than re-zeroing the sensor. The function of the light is to let you know "hey if you are a human, and the light is ON, the airbag will not fire, so you should sit elsewhere". I have found the cutoff point for the seat sensor is 108 lbs; above that the light should be OFF, below that weight, the light should be ON. When the light is ON the airbag will not fire. The video with my wife in place and the light on was after the recall and re-zeroed twice. amd she is definitely above 108 pounds (but don't tell her I said that).

The point is that you have a vehicle with a life-safety system (airbags) that does not consistently and reliably operate as per Nissan's guidelines and the requirements of the Federal government. As such, with an intermittent and random operation, there is no guarantee that the airbag system will operate as per design, and therefore, the passenger may be hurt or killed due to the failure of the airbag system. Worst case would be the light coming on right before an accident, and there is no time for the passenger to move to another seat.

I see this as similar to the torque converter problem in that a part installed in the factory is not performing as designed (torque converter or passenger seat sensor for airbag), a new part is issued, and then the local dealership is expected to replace the part, and not at the factory. Now the torque conveter problem is not a safety issue, more likely a long term reliability issue (not to mention a short term pain in the you know what). However the failure of the airbag system to work as designed after the recall is a very serious safety issue, which would leave Nissan liable for any and all damages (aka $$$$).

So now you say they have re-zero'd your air bag system, what if the light comes back on? My wife now can not trust that this system will work as designed, and protect her or any other passenger (including me) in the event of an accident. What would be your opinion if the brakes randomly did not work, even though they checked them out and could not find a problem, would you keep driving it?

Not trying to paint Nissan as the bad guys, but as a business and corporation, they have sold products (Pathfinders) that have problems, issued recalls and TSBs with new parts to fix, and the parts and methods to fix the problems are not completely fixing the problems. That presents two potential problems for them. The first is obviously they have to expend more time and $$$ to fix the fixes. The second is word of mouth (or social media, or this website); the public hears that "my 2013 Pathfinder is a lemon", which leads to bad reputation, lost sales, lost profits. So it may be possible that Nissan would like to keep these issues as quiet as possible, but that is not possible in the 21st century. And in some cases, some owners may chose to live with the shuddering or the random airbag light, and then there is no cost to Nissan.

So Nissan is left with a decision 1) spend even more time and money fixing the fixes, and maintain their reputation for quality products and sevice, or 2) try to convince owners that there is no problem or you should live with the problems and the bad press eventually dies down. Unfortunately, it would appear that Option 2 is their first line of defense.

With that said, I know Nissan will do the "right thing" regarding my issues, it is unacceptable that I have to do all of this legwork to get them to do it.

Recall that Audi almost went bankrupt in the 1980's when they were accused of unattended acceleration problems, even though it was proven later it was not a true problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dissertation on the airbag warning light

And to clarify the airbag system operation and 'zero reset':

All vehicles since 2006 models have 'smart' airbags for the front passenger seat. Prior to this, airbags were designed to protect a large heavy man. But the original airbags were too powerful, resulting in injury and death for small adults, children and babies in carseats. So the Federal government had everyone redo the front passenger airbag system as follows:

1) If the seat is unoccupied or no weight, the airbag does not fire. Since the system assumes the seat is unoccupied the warning light is off.
2) If the system detects something or someone in the seat greater than a few pounds (this lower value is not specified) but up to 108 pounds, the the airbag does not fire, but the warning light is on to warn humans to move.
3) If something or someone in the seat is 108 pounds or heavier, then the airbag does fire, and the light is off.

The real problem for engineers is determining the weight accurately and consistantly (note these are two different goals). In the Pathfinder, there are two sensors bolted to the left side rail of the passenger seat. They are strain gages, which is a solid state electronic device with no moving parts. They will output an electrical signal proportional to the weight on top of them. They are not simple on/off switches. These devices can measure the weight of what is in the seat with good accuracy (although they can't tell the system if it is a person or a bag of groceries). So now you have a good electronic sensor under the seat that can tell the airbag system (or the Occupant Classification System, or OCS) the weight of something in the seat.

In April of this year, Nissan issued a voluntary recall when it was discovered that some of these sensors were bad. The recall provided new sensors, and the dealership had to install the sensors and reprogram the controlling computer. The recall is extremely specific about not reusing nuts and bolts, and providing exact torque requirements (33 foot-lbs) for bolting the sensors in. Then they have 'zero setpoint' the computer. This is virtually the same thing as adjusting the scales in your bathroom. You may buy a new set of scales and they might read 3 lbs with nothing on them. Many scales will have a small wheel that you adjust until the scale reads zero pounds. This is the same process with the airbag seat weight sensors, they just make sure that the system is reading 'zero' pounds with nothing in the seat.

What does this long and boring discussion have to do with cases where people weighing much more than 108 pounds have the warning light on? The main point is that a zero reset adjusts the sensor such that the warning light does not come on when nothing is in the seat. As such, this is a very minor adjustment, correcting for a few pounds difference. It does not fix a system that thinks a 200 pound man weights 107 pounds (thus turning the light on).

So how would such a highly engineered system misread a 200 pound person as weighing less than 108 pounds (which is unfortunately common in a lot of these systems by all car manufacturers, not just Nissan)? That is for Nissan to diagnose and fix. Some possibilities include the hold down nuts are not maintaining the 33 foot-lbs of torque, the sensors themselves may not work right if you jump in the seat or get into the seat with force moving right to left instead of sitting straight down, or there may be a software glitch in the computer itself or a dozen other things.

The main point to realize is if the warning light is on, then the airbags will not fire. A zero reset may not fix the problem of someone weighing over 108 lbs activating the warning light. And the real cause of the warning light coming on randomly is unknown to me at this time, but hopefully Nissan is working to address the issue.
 

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I asked the dealer about the recall and they gave me the whole thing about how my VIN number didn't fall under the recall. They scratched their heads for two days and never really could tell me why it did this in the first place so I think the reset was just a shot in the dark. Granted, it has not done this since, even with my 110lb wife sitting in the seat through a good hour of driving...do I now trust the system completely? honestly, no. I will agree, Nissan hopefully is working toward a fix for this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Granted, it has not done this since, even with my 110lb wife sitting in the seat through a good hour of driving...
I am going to defend Nissan on this one. If the wife is 110 lbs or so, it is not unreasonable that the airbag warning light will come on. The federal regulations call for the light to go off for a 108 lb woman (within 2 lbs of a 110 lb woman), but do not specify how accurate it has to measure (good to within 1 lb? 3 lbs? 1 oz?). As such, I would not be upset about it, although the wife might be. A good sanity check would be to have something that weighs 5 lbs in the floor handy such that if the light comes on, and she puts the object in her lap, and then the light goes out in 10 - 20 seconds, then I would say it is working as designed.

The problem of ~100 lb persons setting off the lamp is well known and documented, and is not just happening with Nissan vehicles only. Of course, none of this will make your wife happy if the light keeps coming on, but it would be a great excuse to gain a few pounds <grin>.
 

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Of course, none of this will make your wife happy if the light keeps coming on, but it would be a great excuse to gain a few pounds <grin>.
Funny enough, I made the suggestion she probably needed a tad more meat on her bones...she just gave me "the look". :D
 

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My wife is 150 lbs and the light comes on for the OFF passenger airbag while driving at 60mph. I got the same Bullshit from the dealer that cant duplicate problem. This is the second time I take it.


I am going to defend Nissan on this one. If the wife is 110 lbs or so, it is not unreasonable that the airbag warning light will come on. The federal regulations call for the light to go off for a 108 lb woman (within 2 lbs of a 110 lb woman), but do not specify how accurate it has to measure (good to within 1 lb? 3 lbs? 1 oz?). As such, I would not be upset about it, although the wife might be. A good sanity check would be to have something that weighs 5 lbs in the floor handy such that if the light comes on, and she puts the object in her lap, and then the light goes out in 10 - 20 seconds, then I would say it is working as designed.

The problem of ~100 lb persons setting off the lamp is well known and documented, and is not just happening with Nissan vehicles only. Of course, none of this will make your wife happy if the light keeps coming on, but it would be a great excuse to gain a few pounds <grin>.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have a theory based upon some research that I have done on what is called the Occupant Classification Systems, or OCS. One of the things everyone (not just Nissan) has to do is to try to identify when a baby's car seat, or a child's booster seat is placed in the front passenger seat, because you don't want the airbag to fire with an infant or child in the seat. Without getting into all of the engineering details, as you might suspect, a car or booster seat spreads the weight out over most of the bottom of the seat, whereas a person sitting in the center of the seat has most of their weight along the center, with more towards the back (the weight of your torso on top of your hips) and less in front (the weight of your thighs). HOWEVER, it may be possible that a person with a somewhat generous "spread" might sit in the seat, and have their weight distributed all over the seat bottom, and fool the OCS into thinking there is a car seat there.

That is the theory, the real world test happened last weekend. I was driving a loaner Altima (of course the Pathfinder is in the shop, where else would it be?), and the passenger airbag came on with a passenger in the front seat. I watched it for 2 minutes, and the light did not go out. I asked the passenger not to move, not to shift and not to raise up, but to attempt to squeeze their legs and buttocks together. Result? The light went off.

So how could the OCS mistake a 150, 180 or more lb person for a car seat? It may all be in the computer programming when the computer says to itself
"Based on the weight pattern of someone or something sitting in the passenger seat, I think it is a carseat or a booster seat, so I am going to cut off the airbag to be safe."
What may be missing would be the following
"....but I notice that whatever is sitting in the seat is weighs more than 108 pounds, so it is not an infant, 3 year old or six year old, so the airbag should be on."

Just a theory.
 

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I have a theory based upon some research that I have done on what is called the Occupant Classification Systems, or OCS. One of the things everyone (not just Nissan) has to do is to try to identify when a baby's car seat, or a child's booster seat is placed in the front passenger seat, because you don't want the airbag to fire with an infant or child in the seat. Without getting into all of the engineering details, as you might suspect, a car or booster seat spreads the weight out over most of the bottom of the seat, whereas a person sitting in the center of the seat has most of their weight along the center, with more towards the back (the weight of your torso on top of your hips) and less in front (the weight of your thighs). HOWEVER, it may be possible that a person with a somewhat generous "spread" might sit in the seat, and have their weight distributed all over the seat bottom, and fool the OCS into thinking there is a car seat there.

That is the theory, the real world test happened last weekend. I was driving a loaner Altima (of course the Pathfinder is in the shop, where else would it be?), and the passenger airbag came on with a passenger in the front seat. I watched it for 2 minutes, and the light did not go out. I asked the passenger not to move, not to shift and not to raise up, but to attempt to squeeze their legs and buttocks together. Result? The light went off.

So how could the OCS mistake a 150, 180 or more lb person for a car seat? It may all be in the computer programming when the computer says to itself
"Based on the weight pattern of someone or something sitting in the passenger seat, I think it is a carseat or a booster seat, so I am going to cut off the airbag to be safe."
What may be missing would be the following
"....but I notice that whatever is sitting in the seat is weighs more than 108 pounds, so it is not an infant, 3 year old or six year old, so the airbag should be on."

Just a theory.

I personally liked back in the day when you could insert the key and cut the airbag on or off.. But those days are LONG gone now.
 

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yes this airbag issue is another common problem from what I've read upon here...

Nissan's quality sure isn't what it used to be...

Hopefully all these issues can be worked out fast....
 

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My PF is in the shop right now for the judder fix, the air bag sensor fix, and a dashboard rattle fix (final fix per the lemon law). We spoke at length with the nissan specialist about the air bag sensor problem. Here is what ours is doing:

If my 14 year old gets into the front seat with the PF already on, the airbag light will stay on. He does not get an airbag.

If my 14 year old is already in the front passenger seat when I crank the PF, the light will stay off. He gets an airbag.

The light is also randomly changing from on to off as we are driving. He will not be moving a muscle, and it is doing it 20, 30, or 40 minutes into our trip.

The light is staying on after my 14 year old leaves the PF. This is what the recall was trying to fix - I had the recall done in the summer.

The Nissan specialist tried to tell us that of all the safety features on the PF, the air bag was really not that big of a deal. He made it seem that even if the air bag sensor wasn't working properly, my 14 year old would still be fine in a head on crash because the vehicle was so safe in other areas. We almost fell over laughing. My husband told him that Nissan would never sell another PF if they try and make that case.
 

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I am not sure, but I think you can still do that in a pickup truck with no rear seats.
pickups have the same sensor system. I have an 08 Ranger with the system and have noticed that if weight is not perfectly center the light will come on. Happens mostly when of my boys is sitting thuggishly in the passenger seat with his azz slid towards the front of the seat in a slouch..
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My PF is in the shop right now for the judder fix, the air bag sensor fix, and a dashboard rattle fix (final fix per the lemon law). We spoke at length with the nissan specialist about the air bag sensor problem. Here is what ours is doing:

If my 14 year old gets into the front seat with the PF already on, the airbag light will stay on. He does not get an airbag.

If my 14 year old is already in the front passenger seat when I crank the PF, the light will stay off. He gets an airbag.

The light is also randomly changing from on to off as we are driving. He w by uhill not be moving a muscle, and it is doing it 20, 30, or 40 minutes into our trip.

The light is staying on after my 14 year old leaves the PF. This is what the recall was trying to fix - I had the recall done in the summer.

The Nissan specialist tried to tell us that of all the safety features on the PF, the air bag was really not that big of a deal. He made it seem that even if the air bag sensor wasn't working properly, my 14 year old would still be fine in a head on crash because the vehicle was so safe in other areas. We almost fell over laughing. My husband told him that Nissan would never sell another PF if they try and make that case.
Anytime you think someone is feeding a line of BS, simply ask them to type their statement on Nissan letterhead, sign and date it, and give you the original, and see what their response is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
how hard would the fix be though can they just adjust weight units?
Very hard. They, like many other car manufacturers, are using the cheapest hardware they can get away with, and then expect the software to make up for the inadequate sensor hardware.

And here is another future problem for these systems: they are so dramatically sensitive as to how they are bolted down, that as our vehicles accumulate miles, run over bumps and potholes, the sensors will work loose and work even worse.

Time to sell your Nissan stock.
 

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I recently have had the airbag sensor malfunction while my wife was riding in the passenger set. Here is the pic.
Car Vehicle Luxury vehicle Mid-size car Lexus
 

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Just experienced this last weekend with a passenger that is nowhere near 108 lbs. The scariest thing is that I was able to correct it at a red light by simply turning the car off and back on. No shifting weight, removing the seatbelt, opening the door or anything.

Does this mean the sensor needs to be replaced? It was off by over 50 lbs, so I can't imagine this could be a calibration issue.
 
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