Nissan Stops Sales Over Oil Problem


Nissan North America on Friday directed dealers to stop selling tens of thousands of new sedans because of reports of excessive motor oil consumption. The company said it is working aggressively to pinpoint the problem but in the meantime advised motorists to closely monitor oil levels to prevent engine damage.

Stop-sales orders are very unusual, so that reflects our commitment to addressing this problem, spokesman Fred Standish said. We have some suspicions about whats behind this, but we wanted to put customers on the alert until we finish our investigation.

The stop-sale order applies to four-cylinder Altimas and Nissan Sentra SE-Rs built between January and May of this year. It covers approximately 100,000 vehicles. Some have already been purchased and some are still on dealer lots, while others are in route to dealers or have been exported.

According to Standish, the company began receiving complaints about the problem approximately two weeks ago and to date has received 215 reports of excessive oil consumption. In 17 cases, oil levels were depleted enough that engines overheated and caught fire. One of those incidents caused a minor injury, the company said.

Although it is still working to determine precisely why oil is being consumed, Standish said Nissan has replaced parts linked to the problem so that those now coming off assembly lines are not subject to it.

The company distributed notices to purchasers of vehicles covered by the stop-sales order, advising them to check oil levels every 700 miles. If oil does not register on dipsticks, it said, motorists should immediately add oil and take their vehicle to a Nissan dealer. Standish said the notices included directions to help customers find dipsticks because many motorists today seldom venture under their hoods.

We realize many people dont ever check their oil any more, he said. But we would rather put them on alert to check their oil every 700 miles than have them not check it and run the risk of having serious damage done to their engines.

Nissan plans to issue follow-up advice once it determines the exact cause of the problem. The company said it is keeping the U.S. National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration abreast of the problem.

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