DETROIT - Nissan is recalling more than 238,000 Altima midsize cars worldwide because a secondary latch can fail and allow the hoods to fly open while the cars are in motion.
Only Altimas from the 2013 model year are covered by the recall so far, but Nissan is investigating whether other models could be involved, according to documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators. It appears the problem is limited to Altimas, but Nissan is checking other latches with similar designs, spokesman Steve Yaeger said.
On the Altima, Nissan's top-selling vehicle in the U.S., debris and rust can combine with interference between the secondary latch lever and the hood, causing the latches to bind. That could keep them unlatched when the hood is closed. If the primary latch is inadvertently released, the hood could open while the cars are being driven.
Nissan says dealers will modify the latch lever, as well as clean and lubricate the secondary latch joint. The latch assembly could be replaced. The company hasn't come up with a schedule to notify owners.
The problem was discovered when Nissan received reports of a small number of hoods coming open and damaging the cars. No injuries have been reported to Nissan, Yaeger said.
Just over 219,000 Altimas are affected in the U.S., with 10,049 in Canada, 5,267 in Mexico, 2,042 in South Korea and a small number in Latin America, Guam and Saipan, he said.
As long as owners don't release the main hood latch and drive cars, there won't be any problem, Yaeger said.
Owners with questions can call Nissan at (800) 647-7261.