Steering is a key function for any automobile. The ability to steer allows drivers to directly control where a motor vehicle can go, to reach destinations, or to avoid obstacles.
But what happens if an automobile defect suddenly causes a loss of steering control? Not only does the vehicle become effectively inoperable, but it can also lead to accidents and injuries.
This is the main problem plaguing several of Nissan’s Sentra sedans. The automaker recently issued a recall for more than 236,000 Sentras from the 2020 to 2022 model years over a faulty part that could suddenly warp and cause steering issues.
However, the problem with this recall is that several of these Sentras were already part of a previous recall in 2021 for the same issue and may need another repair.
According to reports, the issue with the sedan lies with its tie rod, which joins the vehicle’s steering system to its drive wheels. The tie rods on the affected Sentras were prone to easily bending and warping after experiencing a high-impact force such as hitting the edge of a raised sidewalk or similar obstacle. The warping can knock the steering wheel off-center, but a sufficiently strong impact can cause the rod to break, resulting in total steering control loss.
The automaker reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it knows at least 91 reports of broken or bent tie rods and five crashes related to the issue.
Nissan explained that it would take two visits to the dealer to fix the faulty tie rods. The first visit will inspect and replace any damaged tie rods. Once new and redesigned parts are available, drivers must return their cars for a second visit to replace the left and right tie rods.
How the Lemon Law can help
Having a vehicle with repeated steering control issues could be a headache – but it doesn’t have to be under California’s Lemon Law.
The Lemon Law protects consumers from dealing with a defective vehicle that continues to experience issues even after a reasonable number of repair attempts. Under the law, the vehicle manufacturer can be ordered to buy back or replace the vehicle if it can’t definitively fix the problem.
What is a reasonable number of repair attempts for a vehicle to qualify under the Lemon Law? The owner can pursue a buyback or replacement if their vehicle has had two or more repair attempts for an issue that can lead to death or severe injury – such as total loss of steering control.
Although the Lemon Law allows drivers to pursue reimbursement or replacement for their cars, the process isn’t instantaneous. Car owners will have to request arbitration to claim the benefits. Because the arbitration process can be complicated, having a legal representative would be to the car owner’s advantage.
The risk of steering loss shouldn’t be underestimated. Drivers with problematic vehicles that are still under warranty might want to request Lemon Law arbitration.