Nissan starts recall of 540,000 vehicles over fears of faulty brakes

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The Independent Online

Nissan is recalling more than half a million pick-up trucks, sports utility vehicles and minivans over problems with brake pedals that could become "disengaged" and petrol gauges registering fuel even if a tank is empty.

The move is the latest in a string of technical issues affecting Japan's carmakers and comes barely a week after Akio Toyoda, the boss of rival Toyota, faced a grilling in the US Congress over problems that have seen 8.5 million vehicles recalled and been blamed for at least 52 deaths.

The majority of the 540,000 Nissans needing attention are in the US and Canada. Although there are some affected vehicles elsewhere in the world, none are in Europe. About 210,000 of the total are Titan, Armada, Quest and Infiniti QX56 models with pedal pins that could become "disengaged", interfering with the functioning of the brakes.

All cars that are taken in to have their brakes inspected will also be checked to ensure the petrol gauge is working, and another 230,000 vehicles are being recalled just for the gauge issue.

Nissan is blaming its suppliers. It said yesterday that the brake pedals came from Canada's KSR International, and the petrol gauges from two US-based companies, TI Automotive and Inergy Automotive Systems.

The brake pedal issue was uncovered by a supplier in the manufacturing process in December and only three cases have been reported, all in the US. "The important thing is that there have been no accidents relating to this at all and no injuries," a spokeswoman for Nissan said yesterday.

Customers with vehicles that could be affected by the fuel gauge problem are being advised by Nissan to maintain at least a half-tank of petrol until they can have the vehicle checked.

Meanwhile, Toyota's problems are far from over. Fresh from a fulsome apology in the US last week for safety failings, Mr Toyoda flew to Beijing yesterday to offer similar expressions of regret. The company's reputation is in tatters after a slew of technical problems with its cars, including faulty accelerator pedals, issues with pedals getting stuck to floor mats, and complaints about the anti-lock braking systems on the Prius hybrid.

Relatives of a family killed by Toyota's "unintended acceleration" filed a law suit claiming damages yesterday. Lawyers are expecting the suit to be the first of many, with some predicting that Toyota's total bill for such claims could top $3.5bn (£2.3bn).

Honda has also not escaped the flurry of technical problems dogging the Japanese car-makers. Last month, Japan's second-biggest vehicle manufacture, was forced to recall more than 400,000 of its cars in order to fix a problem with their airbags.