Nissan’s automatic emergency braking system has a defective radar that is either disabling AEB and cruise control or, in the worst case scenario, creating false-positive readings that cause the vehicles to stop randomly in the middle of the road.
What is Automatic Emergency Braking?
Automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning (FCW) systems are there to help prevent rear-end collisions by using cameras, sensors, and/or radar to alert the driver of an obstacle in the road.
FCW will audibly and sometimes visually alert the driver to apply the brakes, while AEB can automatically slam on the brakes if it doesn’t think the driver will do so in time. FCW is believed to reduce rear-end crashes by a third, while AEB nearly cuts them in half1.
So it’s no surprise that AEB is becoming popular across multiple brands, including Nissan which started offering it as standard equipment as part of its “Intelligent Safety Shield” on some of its most popular models in the 2018 model year 2.
Nissan’s AEB Sensors Might Be Easily Fooled
Nissan’s AEB relies on a radar in the front grill. But it is believed that some of the radar modules, which were supplied by Bosch, are defective. In the worst case scenario, the modules are creating false-positives and stopping cars at random times.
”It was a clear day, light traffic, dry pavement, no leaves or other road debris. As I pulled away from the stop sign, within 20 feet, the car suddenly started shaking and stopping. It made an incredibly loud noise. I immediately pulled over the shoulder. There were no messages on the dash or behind the steering wheel” – 2018 Rogue owner in MD
Needless to say this creates more rear-end collision opportunities than it saves. The sensor also frequently deactivates itself which is usually accompanied by the warning message “front radar unavailable due to obstruction.”
”The front sensor keep showing the “front sensor unavailable” followed by the crash icon at all times of the day, and all speeds including in the stopped position. The sensor goes out regardless of whether or not there are other vehicles near the car.” – 2018 Sentra owner in TX
With the radar unavailable, both AEB and cruise control will be disabled.
Emergency Braking Lawsuits
A series of emergency braking lawsuits are worried that Nissan’s safety technology is actually putting drivers at risk.
The first lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California says any AEB-equipped Nissan has defective sensors in the front grille.
The owner’s manuals for many of the vehicles admit the automatic emergency braking systems do “not function in all driving, traffic, weather and road conditions.” But the plaintiff says the manual leaves out the part about how the systems can cause vehicles to suddenly stop even when no objects are in the driving lane.
The lawsuit includes all former and current owners / lessees of the 2015+ Altima, Armada, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Sentra, and Pathfinder.
A second lawsuit filed in the Middle District of Tennessee covers 2017-2019 Nissan owners who have made complaints, only to be told the system works as intended.
AEB technical service bulletins (TSB)
The Nissan lawsuits alleges the automaker is well aware of radar sensor problems because a series of technical service bulletins (TSBs) that date back to late 2016.
Bulletin for radar sensor diagnostic codes
In September of 2016, Nissan issued TSB NTB15-009b to tell technicians to be on the lookout for two diagnostic codes related to radar sensors problems. Trouble Code DTC C1A16 would indicate the radar is blocked, while trouble code DTC C1A12 indicates the laser beam is off center.
The bulletin focused on the 2016 Altima, Maxima, Murano Hybrid, and Sentras as well as the 2015-2015 Murano and Rogues.
Then came the quality assurances
Nissan continued to release multiple bulletins from November 2016 to February 2017 related to quality assurance holds on the front camera (TSB NTB16-116 and PC499), or mentioning Automatic Emergency Braking or Forward Emergency Braking services (TSB NTB18-008 and TSB NTB18-008).
Unexpected operations in AEB, FEB, or FCW
In June of 2018, TSB NTB18-041 informed dealers that owners of the 2018 Rogue, Rogue Hybrid, or Rogue Sport might complain about unexpected problems with the AEB (automatic emergency braking), FEB (forward emergency braking), or FCW (forward collision warning). TSB NTB18-041a updated the previous bulletin to include the 2017 model year.
Reprogram the laser radar
In August of 2018, TSB PC637 informed dealers to update the the driver assist system software to “improve the performance” of any 2018 Rogue built in Tennessee.
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Any Chance of a Recall?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fully supports AEB saying it “believes these technologies represent the next wave of potentially significant advances in vehicle safety.3
While I doubt NHTSA would issue an investigation or recall for warning messages, if enough owners complain about the system creating new and potentially even-more damaging situations by randomly stopping cars, you’d have to believe that’d qualify as a “safety” issue worthy of an investigation.