Man wants Nissan to pay for car's melting dashboard

Federal regulators say issue doesn't pose 'unreasonable risk'

MIAMI – When Malcom Moyse first noticed a sticky substance on his 2008 Nissan Altima dashboard, he was not too worried.

"We actually thought that it was like somebody sprayed something on it," he said. "So we never looked at it. We never paid attention to it."

Until one day last year when Moyse was walking around Midtown Miami and saw another Nissan with the same dashboard residue. He decided to investigate further.

"I went online and I looked up shiny dashboards, and there you go -- Nissan has a problem with melting dashboards," he said.

Local 10 News found complaint after complaint of melting Nissan dashboards on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website, many telling federal regulators that the glare makes it hard to see. They are pleading for a recall.

Moyse agrees the dashboards are a safety issue.

"It impairs my vision whenever I'm driving," he said. "A dashboard is not supposed to be melting, so whatever chemicals are in the dashboard are evaporating into the air and I don't know what I'm breathing."

In a statement to Local 10, an NHTSA representative said, "The issue does not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety under the meaning of our authorizing statute."

The statement goes on to say that, "While we understand the frustration felt by affected owners, our analysis of available data indicate the degradation of the dash occurs over a lengthy period offering considerable warning that the dash should be corrected."

But Moyse disagrees.

"This is a safety issue, and it's not just for the driver," he said. "It's for the pedestrian, bicyclists (and) everybody who interacts with the car. If there was somebody standing right there, I wouldn't be able to see them."

According to Nissan, these cases are predominantly isolated in South Florida.

"Nissan continues to assess the situation and our consumer affairs team takes appropriate steps in dealing with each owner's case," Nissan said in a statement to Local 10. "Nissan is committed to providing the highest level of customer satisfaction for all Nissan owners."

The price of a new dashboard typically ranges from $1,200 to $1,500. When Moyse took his Altima to the shop, they gave him an estimate of $2,000. He asked Nissan for financial assistance to replace the dashboard, but it refused.

"When you tell, let them know, 'Hey, my dashboard is melting,' they say, 'Well, hey, it's out of warranty. We can't do anything about it,'" Moyse said.

Several other angry customers received the same response regarding melting dashboards and took their concerns to the Nissan Facebook page.

Moyse said he cannot understand the lack of action from Nissan with so many reoccurring complaints.

"Take responsibility of your product," he said. "And if this is a recurring issue or if this is an issue, don't sell your product in the state of Florida or in any other places where the sun is shining."

There is a class-action lawsuit filed by Girard Gibbs LLP against Nissan regarding "defective dashboards that melt and become shiny, sticky and reflective when exposed to sunlight." The lawsuit is entitled Tracy Sanborn and Louis Lucrezia v. Nissan North America, Inc. and Nissan Motor Company, LTD.

"I've spoken with many consumers about the seemingly melting dashboards in their Nissan vehicles," Amy Zeman, an attorney in the lawsuit against Nissan, told Local 10's investigative reporter Christina Vazquez. "These consumers are worried about the glare off the reflective surface impairing their vision while driving, the fumes that might be emitted as the dashboard material degrades and how airbag deployment might be impacted by changes in the surrounding dashboard.  They understandingly want and expect Nissan to address their concerns."

Gibbs and co-counsel have also filed lawsuits against Toyota regarding dashboards that melt and create a dangerous glare or reflection in the windshield in certain Toyota and Lexus models. Lexus is a division of Toyota. In December 2014, the company announced a warranty enhancement program to address the defective dashboards.

READ: Lexus warranty enhancement program

"We are committed to listening closely to our customers to help ensure owner satisfaction," a representative from Toyota said. "In response to customer concerns, we are enhancing warranty coverage to provide complete relief for Toyota and Lexus owners whose dashboards and front and interior door panels may have been damaged by high heat and humidity over time."

The programs for both Toyota and Lexus models are split into two phases. In the first phase, reimbursements will be provided for any previous repairs while it prepares for the warranty enhancement and obtains the necessary parts. A letter will be sent out at the beginning of phase two once the preparations have been made and parts were obtained. According to the company letter, the expected start date for phase two of the Toyota and Lexus warranty enhancement program is May 2015.

READ: Toyota warranty enhancement program

Meanwhile, Moyse said he won't stop fighting until Nissan implements a similar program.

"I want Nissan to do the right thing, and I'm not going to stop until they do the right thing," he said.

Follow Christina Vazquez on Twitter @CallChristinaTV

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