Release 09-35
April 16, 2009

    Karen Caesar
Nissan Motor Co. fined $4.4 million
Automotive giant cited for failing to monitor car emissions

SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board last month fined Nissan Motor Company $4.4 million for failing to meet requirements concerning the diagnostic equipment that monitors tailpipe emissions on most of its 2005-2007 models - more than 450,000 vehicles.

On-board diagnostic systems are incorporated into vehicle computers to ensure tailpipe emissions stay at permissible levels. If a problem is detected, the system turns on a "check engine" light to alert the driver.

The ARB discovered Nissan's problems in 2007 during a routine compliance review. The problems concerned inadequate monitoring of engine sensors that govern proper fuel system operation and whether monitoring takes place as frequently as required.

"California advanced the goal of clean air by pioneering the development and use of the on-board diagnostic system to make sure drivers know when their emissions equipment malfunctions," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "We consider it to be a vital tool not only for consumers, but for all of us who want to breathe clean air.

"Nissan has been cooperative during this investigation, and we are confident that the design process changes they implemented will prevent future problems," Nichols added.

Nissan's settlement with the ARB requires it to pay $3 million to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California's air quality. It must also pay $1.2 million to the Environmental Education Initiative and $200,000 to the National OBD Clearinghouse.

California has the nation's poorest air quality. Excess vehicle emissions can cause or exacerbate a host of respiratory and cardiac conditions and pose a danger to public health.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.