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Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP16-002

American Government Topics:  Nissan Sentra

Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP16-002

Jeffrey Mark Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
4 May 2020

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 86 (Monday, May 4, 2020)]
[Pages 26519-26520]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-09430]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0009]

Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP16-002

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation.

ACTION: Denial of petition for a defect investigation.


SUMMARY: This notice sets forth the reasons for the denial of a 
petition submitted on September 28, 2015, by Mr. Matthew Oliver, 
Executive Director, North Carolina Consumers Council, Inc. (NCCC), to 
NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). The petition requests 
that the agency commence a proceeding to evaluate the scope and 
effectiveness of two recalls for brake master cylinder leakage issued 
by Nissan for model year (MY) 2007 and 2008 Nissan Sentra vehicles. The 
petitioner submitted a narrative indicating master cylinder failure for 
one MY 2008 Nissan (VOQ 1010805749) along with four (4) other owner 
complaints found in NHTSA's complaint database. The Petitioner alleges 
that these five complaints indicate insufficiency of effectiveness and 
scope for the recall actions. For the reasons set forth below, NHTSA 
disagrees. NHTSA will continue to monitor the situation, but has 
concluded that further expenditure of the agency's investigative 
resources on the issues raised by the petition does not appeared to be 
warranted. The agency accordingly has denied the petition. The petition 
is hereinafter identified as DP16-002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Brian E. Smith, Vehicle Defects 
Division--B, Office of Defects Investigation, NHTSA, 1200 New Jersey 
Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590, telephone (202) 366-6975.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: By letter received on September 28, 2015, 
Mr. Matthew Oliver of Raleigh, NC, submitted a petition requesting that 
the agency investigate the scope and effectiveness of two recalls for 
brake master cylinder leakage issued by Nissan for model year (MY) 2007 
and 2008 Nissan Sentra vehicles. The petition was based on one incident 
of a MY 2008 Nissan Sentra master cylinder developing a slow leak for 
several years prior to the submission of the petition. According to the 
petition, the failed vehicle was inspected by a repair

[[Page 26520]]

facility and brake fluid was found inside the brake booster, as was the 
case in the failures described in Nissan Recalls 08V-311 and 09V-431.
    On December 20, 2016, ODI opened a Defect Petition (DP16-002) to 
further review the issue raised in the petitioner's letter.
    The following is a summary of the reviews and analysis conducted 
during DP16-002:
     Review of VOQ complaints identified in the petition: The 
petitioner identified four other complaints in the petition letter. 
Each of these VOQ complaints will be addressed individually.
    [cir] VOQ 10299791--This VOQ for a 2008 Nissan Sentra described 
three replacements of the master cylinder for leakage. Some of the 
repairs may have occurred under warranty prior to recall remedy 
availability. This vehicle is part of the recall population and did 
receive the recall remedy. All of the replacements occurred in the 
first two years of vehicle use. ODI could not determine if any of the 
reported failures involved a remedy replacement part.
    [cir] VOQ 10449038--This VOQ for a 2008 Nissan Sentra mentions a 
fire in proximity to the master cylinder area under the hood. Fire is 
not indicated as an outcome for the failure addressed by the recalls. 
The complaint describes engine stalling prior to the fire event. The 
vehicle was sold with a salvage title prior to the fire event, 
according to Carfax. The vehicle is part of the recall population and 
did receive the recall remedy.
    [cir] VOQ 10567372--This VOQ is for a 2008 Nissan Sentra which 
falls outside of the recall population. The failure occurred six years 
into the life of the vehicle.
    [cir] VOQ 10638813--This VOQ is for a 2008 Nissan Sentra which is 
included in the recall population and received the recall remedy. The 
complaint was filed by a subsequent owner four years after the remedy 
was performed.
     Review of additional VOQ complaints--ODI identified two 
more VOQ complaints responsive to this defect petition. One complaint 
vehicle (10839357) was repaired under the recall in 2008 and had a 
master cylinder failure eight years later in 2016. The second complaint 
vehicle (10330891) suffered a second master cylinder failure within two 
years after the recall repair.
     ODI review of Nissan data--ODI requested and received data 
from Nissan detailing the original defect determination. They also 
provided warranty trend data for the recalled vehicles and for vehicles 
produced after the production change which delimited the end of the 
recall population.
    [cir] Improper machining of the internal seal groove--Nissan 
identified a production machining process for the bore of the master 
cylinder body which sometimes resulted in chattering and an uneven 
surface of the internal seal groove. Nissan supplier Bosch implemented 
manufacturing changes in early 2008 to prevent this condition.
    [cir] Mold changes for the isolation seal--The specifications and 
tolerances for the isolation seal were updated to produce better 
sealing of the master cylinder. The improved seal was introduced into 
production on April 18, 2008. This date marks the end of the recall 
vehicle population.
    [cir] Warranty Data--ODI reviewed the incident rate and warranty 
data for the vehicle populations affected by the recall and vehicle 
populations produced after the final production changes were 
implemented. The recall populations show a significant spike in 
incident rates during the first three years of vehicle service. The 
vehicles produced after the production fix fail at a much lower rate 
and do not exhibit the premature failure spikes found in the recall 
     Presence of a warning light--The master cylinder is 
equipped with a fluid level sensor which will alert the driver to a 
slow leak. A warning light on the instrument panel will illuminate when 
the fluid is at a low but safe level. If the driver does not take 
action to remedy the low fluid either by adding fluid or getting the 
master cylinder fixed, reduced braking could result.


    Nissan conducted safety recalls 08V-311 and 09V-431 to remedy 
leaking master cylinders on certain MY 2007 and 2008 Nissan Sentra 
vehicles. The recall populations were determined based on production 
changes to the master cylinder which were fully implemented as of 
April18, 2008.
    ODI identified two MY 2008 Nissan Sentra complaints, including the 
petitioner's vehicle, which were not covered by the recalls and 
reported a leaking master cylinder. All of these incidents occurred six 
or more years into the service life of the vehicle. ODI also identified 
three complaints which reported a master cylinder leaking after 
receiving the recall remedy. Only one of these failures occurred within 
36 months of the recall remedy. The original recall addressed failures 
which occurred early in the life of the vehicle, and involved elevated 
incident rates during the first 36 months of vehicle service. Master 
cylinders are generally expected to experience wear and display a 
finite service life.
    After a review of the available data, including a thorough search 
of NHTSA's complaint database, the agency has not identified a trend 
that would call into question the scope or adequacy of Nissan's 
recalls. Accordingly, and in view of the need to allocate and 
prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the agency's 
safety mission, ODI is denying the petition. A detailed summary of 
ODI's analysis of this petition will be published in the Federal 
Register and is also available in the investigative file for this 

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30162(d); delegations of authority at CFR 
1.50 and 501.8

Jeffrey Mark Giuseppe,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2020-09430 Filed 5-1-20; 8:45 am]

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