The defect has been traced to a problematic electrical connection for an airbag control unit.
Nissan has issued a recall for approximately 55,000 Versa sedans from the 2012 model year.
The company says that a degraded electrical connection leading to an airbag impact sensor can allow the side curtain and seat-mounted airbags to deploy unexpectedly if the door is slammed.
Dissimilar metals used in the connector harness -- a gold-plated female connector and a tin male pin -- can lead to oxidization and momentary signal loss between the satellite airbag sensor and the airbag control unit.
The system enters a 'backup' failsafe mode when it detects signal interruption between the ACU and satellite sensors. Airbags are allowed to deploy as intended, but the failsafe mode uses a different deployment algorithm that can trigger the airbags to fire at a much lower force threshold.
"The force required to achieve this velocity means the person aggressively closing the door is likely located outside the vehicle," the recall documents note. "However, if another occupant is still seated in the vehicle, and the vehicle ignition is in the "on" or "start" position, the inadvertent curtain and seat-mounted side airbag deployment could increase the risk of injury to that occupant."
Dealers will install a new jumper harness kit and new satellite sensors to prevent signal loss.