Nissan is recalling 1,063 examples of its new Ariya EV to address an issue that may lead to the steering wheel coming off in the driver’s hands — a prospect that also has led to a federal investigation of the Tesla Model Y. While this sounds like, and it is, the stuff of a comedy sketch, this is a pretty basic and serious flaw, and fortunately Nissan reports that it became aware of the issue before cars with loose wheels ended up in the hands (so to speak) of customers.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Nissan has its internal processes (rather than a supplier defect) to blame for this problem, which was introduced by Nissan techs who were addressing a separate quality issue on Ariyas that were awaiting shipping from Nissan’s port facilities. The fix involved replacing steering wheels on already-assembled cars, and Nissan says its technicians likely made one of two critical errors.
“As part of the activity, a technician may have inadvertently applied the incorrect torque settings to the steering wheel bolt. In certain cases, the steering wheel bolt may not have been installed,” Nissan’s defect report to NHTSA said. “As a result, the steering wheel may experience some play or potentially separate from the steering column if pulled towards the driver. If this occurs, loss of steering control may increase the risk of a crash.”
As we noted above, Nissan discovered the issue during pre-delivery inspections at its dealers, when two incidents of loose wheels prompted the company to order an inspection of all examples that had undergone the same procedure. Only one more vehicle with a loose wheel was found. Affected models have been the subject of an internal stop-sale since late February while Nissan works to address the problem.