Earlier today we learned that Nissan was recalling over 1M vehicles because of faulty passenger airbag software issue.

Given the ongoing saga with GM's ignition switch recall, I decided to dig into NHTSA's consumer complaint database to research this issue. Using a flat file dump of all NHTSA complaints, I focused in on one particular model, the Nissan Altima, MY2013 and My2014.

The first thing that stands out is the number of complaints related to the airbags. This graph shows that of the total complaints submitted on the Altima AIRBAGS make up a large proportion of those. This graph alone should raise concern as the airbag is a critical safety device and is at the heart of the GM recall.

Further, I pulled all 128 total airbag complaints, and found that 88% of those complaints reference the passenger airbag turning off or not working properly.


Here are just a few of the examples of complaints.


Taking those same 128 complaints I created a pie chart using data from Field 17, "DATE COMPLAINT RECEIVED BY NHTSA."


While I understand that there will be always be some delay between the time complaints are reported and the time NHTSA or the automaker can analyze those compliants, see trends, and take the appropriate action; but given the number of complaints raised in 2013 and the specificity of those complaints, it would be interesting to learn if NHTSA brought this issue to Nissan's attention or if it raised any red flags internally.