The Fixer: My Nissan Navara pick-up snapped in half (updated)

Pick-up used as family car to transport father's two children


This article now includes updates from April 3 and April 5, 2017, including advice from our vehicle repair and motoring law experts as well as additional responses from Nissan.


A NISSAN Navara owner has described his horror at the moment he was told his pick-up truck had snapped in two.

Gary Baker, a father of two from Baldock in Hertfordshire, had left his 2006 Navara with a local garage for its MoT on Monday, March 20 when he got the call from the mechanic.

Baker told hotmailiniciodesesion.info: “The guy called me up and said, ‘I’ve done the MoT and it needs a bit of work on the brakes but I’m not going to bother with that because the chassis has snapped. The brakes are the least of your problems.’

“I said, ‘Oh… OK. I’d better come and have a look to see what you mean.’”


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After arriving at the test centre, Baker was shown the underneath of his car and could see that the chassis had indeed snapped between the cab and the rear load area. He was told that the mechanic had done nothing more than drive the truck onto the inspection ramp when he heard a crack.

“It was a ‘wow’ moment,” said Baker. “Luckily it was on the mechanic’s ramp and not on the motorway with my two children in the back. That [thought] was quite sickening. We go camping three or four times a year and drive up to Nottingham once a month, and the Navara is great for chucking all the stuff in the back. We have a five year-old girl and recently had another baby, and they need a load of stuff, so the Navara’s luggage space was a big seller. But at any point it could have snapped in half, and we could have been hurtling down the road at 70mph.”

Baker’s garage checked online and discovered “a whole load of information” related to Nissan Navara D40 models, built between 2005 and 2008, suffering from excessive corrosion. In a number of cases, the chassis had also snapped.

In January, The Sunday Times that Nissan Ireland had admitted a number of Navara trucks, mostly 10 years old or more, have developed problems with their chassis due to corrosion and that it has bought back some affected vehicles. The car maker issued the statement after some owners reported on social media that the chassis of their vehicles had “snapped” due to rusting.

In February, The Sun  that “Nissan has known about the ­problem for a year and has been accused of keeping it ‘under wraps’.” The article said furious owners urged Nissan to recall the affected Navaras.

A BBC One Wales X-Ray TV report used cameras to show the inside of the ladder chassis. Independent vehicle inspector Gareth Rees was employed by the programme to inspect a customer’s 2005 Nissan Navara, and used a small camera to show the inside of the chassis. The camera showed the interior of the chassis had corrosion “to a far higher degree”, indicating that there was a “weakening from the inside out”. He said a simple visual examination of the outside of the chassis was not good enough to evaluate its road-worthiness. In his opinion, the problem “seems inherent from manufacture” and is common to many other vehicles he has looked at.

“Luckily it was on the mechanic’s ramp and not on the motorway with my two children in the back”

Richy Holmes, 50, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, set up a Facebook group alerting owners of Nissan Navaras to cases of trucks “snapping”. Holmes alleges he was towing a caravan to Scotland when his own truck snapped with his pregnant wife and daughter aged four inside. The now has more than 22,000 members. Owners report that Nissan is inspecting vehicles and offering the market value if they find excessive rust through normal wear and tear.

A week after Baker’s MoT, an RAC mechanic inspected his Navara on behalf of Nissan. The car was found to be “unroadworthy”, Baker said, with excessive corrosion including “a hole the size of his fist.” It also revealed that the vehicle, which Baker bought used a year ago, had been reinforced with metal plates by a previous owner. Holmes’ Facebook group shows evidence that this is a common solution for owners trying to avoid a dangerous structural failure.

Baker is now waiting to hear what his compensation will be, if anything, but he is hopeful of a deal. “From what I’ve seen, compensation isn’t unreasonable,” he said.

In an emailed statement, Nissan GB told driving.co.uk: “We’re aware of an issue in a relatively small number of previous generation Navaras (D40) and have taken action. This issue relates to corrosion affecting the vehicle chassis.

“We’ve put measures in place to quickly resolve the concerns of any customers who have ed us about this. Nissan is backing customers even though the affected vehicles are up to 12 years old.

“Depending on the age of the vehicle, these measures include a free and independent inspection of the vehicle where appropriate. If the inspection shows there’s an issue, we’ll do the right thing by the customer under our warranty and customer service policies.

“Many vehicles which have been checked have had no issue, however should any concern be found we have a number of options in place to support the customer. This could range from directing the customer to appropriate repair, supporting costs, repairing the vehicle or even exchanging it, however that will depend on the circumstances of the specific situation.”

Nissan added that there were still no plans to recall the vehicle.

“As long as these vehicles are properly maintained, serviced and MOT’d they are safe to drive, and therefore we are dealing with each customer on a case-by-case basis,” the statement read. “As is standard industry practice, we only recall a vehicle when there’s a safety issue.”

However, the company said that any concerned customers should the Nissan Care team on 0330 123 1231. “Our team is on hand to help and can advise on the most appropriate course of action for each customer and their vehicle.”


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hotmailiniciodesesion.info asked Nissan a number of other questions, including when it first became aware of the rusting issue, whether it affects any other models, how many cars are affected but these were not answered in the statement. We also asked whether, as in Baker’s case, an attempt by an owner to strengthen the chassis through welding metal plates to it would invalidate any claim. A spokesperson said they would look into Baker’s case but they were unable to get full details in time for our publication deadline.

UPDATE April 05, 2017: Nissan has since answered a number of these questions. See below.

In the meantime, Baker says he has access to a second car – a Seat Ibiza – which is good enough to get him to work and back. However the supermini is no match for the Navara pick-up in terms of load-lugging ability.

All images: 

 

UPDATE April 3, 2017

Car Clinic: repair expert Tim Shallcross says…

Not all Navaras will have chassis problems, but if you have any concerns about your car, get in touch with Nissan’s Care team on 0330 123 1231.  Although they will not issue a recall, they do seem to be treating individual owners reasonably well, either by repairing the car or offering a good market price to buy it back, although getting the market price for a car you expected to last a few years more may not suit everyone.

Nissan is investigating quite a few cases at the moment following pretty wide publicity, so owners are reporting some delays in the process.  Existing owners of 2005-2008 cars wanting some immediate reassurance could ask their garage to check the chassis carefully at the next service or MOT test, preferably after jet washing it. The nature of the vehicle means the chassis will often be caked with mud which will hide signs of rust which is why jet washing is important.

“Whatever you do, don’t attempt to arrange repairs yourself”

If the car passed the last MOT with no problems, you may have nothing to worry about.  If the last MOT was issued with an advisory notice about corrosion, get it checked as soon as possible.

Although many Navara owners will be very practical people, it’s not a good idea to carry out the inspection of a 2005-2008 vehicle yourself; let an expert check it as the signs of corrosion can be hard to spot unless you’re trained in what to look for.

Nissan is adamant that the only affected models were made from 2005-2008, but owners of later models may want to have a garage check at the next service anyway.

If corrosion is evident, once you tell Nissan you have concerns they will generally arrange for an independent inspection at their expense, then make an offer to solve the problem.

Whatever you do, don’t attempt to arrange repairs yourself – let Nissan decide whether it is repairable and let them manage the repair process.

Needless to say, anyone considering a used Navara of that model will be well advised to get the car thoroughly inspected before buying.

Tim Shallcross used to train AA patrols to fix cars. Now he advises the Institute of Advanced Motoring — read more from Tim here.

 

 

UPDATE April 3, 2017

Car Clinic legal expert Nick Freeman says…

Although Nissan insists its vehicles are safe to drive provided they are properly maintained, there appears to be a clear safety issue here and Nissan is burying its head in the rust if they think there isn’t.

Nissan should all owners of the relevant vehicles and warn them of the potentially very serious risk, and advise them not to drive their vehicles until there has been a full inspection and the particular problem has been given a clean bill of health.

Any vehicles with the problem should be purchased by Nissan and the purchase price should be a fair market price plus an element of compensation.

“There appears to be a clear safety issue here”

Nissan should also explain the exact nature of the problem and how it has transpired.

In the absence of the above, owners of the relevant vehicles should Nissan directly or their local dealer and request a full inspection.

Any vehicles should not be driven until inspected and given a clean bill of health. Where necessary, whilst negotiations are taking place, owners should be provided with temporary replacement vehicles.

Nick Freeman, also known as Mr Loophole, is a solicitor who runs a legal practice in Manchester specialising in road traffic law — read more from Nick here.

 

UPDATE April 5, 2017

Nissan responds to additional questions

1 Our legal and motoring expert says there appears to be a clear safety issue. Why, in Nissan’s view, is it not?

As long as these vehicles are properly maintained, serviced and MOT’d they are safe to drive, and therefore we are dealing with each customer on a case-by-case basis. As is standard industry practice, we only recall a vehicle when there’s a safety issue.

2 What would constitute a safety issue?

Corrosion occurs on all vehicles and is a gradual and progressive process. Any significant corrosion should be detected during routine maintenance, service and during the annual MOT inspection before any issues arise. This is why we are very clear that as long as vehicles are properly maintained and serviced then they are safe to drive.

3 What in Nissan’s view is the exact nature of the problem?

This issue relates to corrosion affecting the vehicle chassis. We’ve put measures in place to quickly resolve the concerns of any customers who have ed us about this. Nissan is backing customers even though the affected vehicles are up to 12 years old.

4 When did Nissan first became aware about it?

About a year ago we received reports from a small number of customers that their vehicle had failed routine roadworthiness test due to corrosion that had perforated the chassis. As soon as we became aware of this potential issue an investigation was instigated and appropriate steps put in place to find satisfactory resolutions for all customers affected by this issue.

5 How many vehicles potentially could this relate to?

This issue affects a relatively small number of older vehicles. Typically, this has been reported on approx. 10-year-old, higher mileage vehicles and been highlighted through roadworthiness inspection checks.

6 What has been changed in the manufacturing process to assure owners of newer vehicles that this problem doesn’t relate to theirs?

We do not comment on our manufacturing processes however we have put measures in place to quickly resolve the concerns of any customers who have ed us about this. Nissan is backing customers even though the affected vehicles are up to 12 years old.

Depending on the age of the vehicle, these measures include a free and independent inspection of the vehicle where appropriate. If the inspection shows there’s an issue, we’ll do the right thing by the customer under our warranty and customer service policies.

Any concerned customers should the Nissan Care team on 0330 123 1231.

7 Are there other Nissan vehicles between 2005 and 2008 that this could relate to?

A very small number of Pathfinder R51 cases have been reported. There are no reports of other vehicles being affected.

Have you had problems with your Nissan Navara? Or trouble with another make of car?Tweet us or email carclinic@sunday-times.co.uk with subject line “The Fixer”. To view other The Fixer articles, click here.

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