LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Cars suddenly shutting down in the summer heat -- leaving drivers in fear and searching for answers. It's a story you saw first on 13 Action News last month when Contact 13 learned it's been happening to Nissan drivers across the Las Vegas valley.
Contact 13 looks at why driving a brand new car may not protect you.
Chris Wills: "We were leaving our apartment one day. Went to hit the gas to cross over Nellis and it sputtered. We almost got hit.
Darcy: "With your children in the car?"
Chris: "With my children in the car."
Chris Wills never thought he'd be afraid to drive his new car. He bought the 2017 Nissan Sentra in March -- looking for a safe, reliable vehicle for his family. But he says there's a hidden danger under the hood.
"I get no warning. It will just do it. It will just shut down while I'm driving."
There are less than 5,000 miles on Chris's Sentra. And that day with his kids in tow wasn't his only close call. He says he's experienced sudden engine shutdown.
"I lost steering. Couldn't turn,"says Chris. "About 5 or 6 times now." Documented in service records as he's sought a fix.
Contact 13 has heard from about 60 Nissan owners, most of whom have Versas and Sentras, and complain about the same problem. People like Karen Branton.
"I'm scared driving this car to be honest with you," says Karen. .
"That shouldn't be an issue with modern day cars," says attorney George West, who specializes in consumer auto law. He says dealerships are caught in the middle of this mechanical mystery.
"It's a design issue, obviously, and it's up to the manufacturer to give the right fix to their franchise dealers," says West.
Contact 13 reached out to Nissan 11 times in the last month, looking for answers.
They've now sent this statement:
Nissan issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for 2012-2016 Nissan Versa and Sentra vehicles with 1.6 and 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engines to remedy occasional engine-stop issues when the vehicles are in extremely hot air-temperature operating environments.
Nissan is aware of approximately 60 warranty claims potentially related to this issue; our data confirms no recurrence after the TSB remedy was applied to these vehicles. Any customer concerned about this issue is asked to bring their vehicle to a Nissan dealership for inspection and to have the TSB remedy performed if needed.
While a Southwestern summer heatwave like you are experiencing can occasionally cause performance issues for any vehicle, Nissan is confident the procedures outlined in this TSB will remedy this specific issue for the affected vehicles. Nissan dealers will work directly with our customers to ensure a satisfactory ownership and service experience.
We are at present studying two vehicles with reported occasional, engine-stop issues, which are outside of the parameters of the TSB mentioned above. We will have no other information to share until our engineers have completed their work. Nissan will continue to ensure a satisfactory ownership experience, working directly with our customers.
--NISSAN NORTH AMERICA
Nissan is confident that is the fix for the affected cars. But maybe not Chris' because his new 2017 Sentra falls outside the TSB.
Contact 13 learned Nissan sent engineers to Las Vegas in early July to investigate Chris' case.
Because they still haven't been able to figure what's causing the problem, the solution at this point has been to install a device in Chris' car. It's essentially what amounts to a black box. It's from Nissan North America Field quality investigations and it's recording what happens in the car and when.
Chris' is one of two vehicles Nissan says they're currently studying "with reported occasional, engine-stop issues, which are outside the parameters of the TSB." And they'll "have no other information to share until engineers have completed their work."
Chris is trying to get Nissan to take his car back, feeling stuck with a ride he believes puts his family and others on the road at risk.
"My wife is actually scared to drive the car," says Chris. "I feel like it's a lemon. It's unreliable. It's unsafe."
Nissan is asking for our help in getting word out to all customers concerned about this issue. You're asked to bring your vehicles to a Nissan dealership for inspection and to have the computer reprogrammed if needed.
You can also report it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by clicking here.
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