Nissan is under investigation for the forward collision avoidance system in 2017 and 2018 Rogue vehicles. Hundreds of drivers have reported that the vehicles brake for no reason and increase the risk of an accident.

On September 10, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation of the Nissan Rogue in response to a petition from the Center for Auto Safety (CAS). The consumer advocacy group petitioned NHTSA in March, alleging that the Rogue vehicles can apply their brakes “in cases where there [is] no obstruction in the path of the vehicle.”

According to NHTSA, CAS also alleges that Nissan is aware of the problem because it has issued a Technical Service Bulletin and a “Customer Service Initiative” in relation to the alleged defect. Despite those actions, however, Nissan’s efforts to solve the problem and protect drivers from phantom braking incidents have been inadequate, CAS asserts.

Nearly 900 drivers have reported the phantom braking defect in the 2017 and 2018 Rogue and Rogue Sport vehicles.

“While the vehicle was in motion on both city streets and interstate highways, the automatic emergency brake (AEB) has activated when there wasn’t any traffic or obstacles present,” wrote the driver of a 2017 Nissan Rogue in a report to NHTSA. “At one time on the highway it almost caused an accident due to sudden and abrupt unneeded braking slowing the car unexpectedly [and] nearly causing cars behind me to run into me. This vehicle behavior has occurred multiple times,” the driver added.

NHTSA says that so far it and Nissan have reviewed 879 driver complaints and identified 15 unexpected braking incidents that resulted in a collision. At least seven of those crashes resulted in injuries, according to NHTSA.

Based on this preliminary evaluation of the reports, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has started a formal investigation that will determine the cause, scope, and frequency of the faulty AEB activations. Investigators will also assess Nissan’s response to consumer complaints and what it has done to improve the performance of the AEB system in the affected vehicles. The alleged defect affects at least 553,860 vehicles.

The NHTSA probe does not include the 2019 Rogue, but the agency has received one report of a Maryland driver experiencing faulty brake activation in a vehicle of that model year. “After consulting with both the manufacturer and the dealer, the contact was informed that the emergency braking system could erroneously activate while driving in the rain, snow, or while driving under a bridge,” the report states.

Clay Barnett, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, investigates cases of economic loss related to auto defects. He is currently working on claims involving other vechicles, including Ford F150 trucks that suffer a loss of brakes due to a master cylinder defect, and full-size GM trucks and SUVs that experience sudden unnecessary “phantom braking” when there is no obstacle present.

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