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US agency probes complaints that Nissan panels can trap foot, cause unwanted acceleration

DETROIT - The U.S. government's road safety agency is investigating complaints that a trim panel can cause unwanted acceleration in Nissan Versa small cars.

The probe covers about 360,000 Nissan Versa and Versa Note subcompacts from the 2012 through 2014 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Saturday on its website that four drivers have complained that a trim panel near the gas pedal can trap the edge of a driver's shoe. This can stop the driver from releasing the gas pedal quickly and delay braking.

There are no reports of crashes or injuries, although one driver complained of a close call at an intersection on June 9.

As the driver accelerated to make a left turn, a plastic trim panel that covers the centre console trapped the driver's shoe and stopped it from moving off the gas pedal, the complaint said. "I used my right hand to grab my leg and pulled harder, immediately braking hard, then backing my foot off the brake as I squealed and skidded around the corner, almost going over the curb and crashing," the driver wrote.

The driver reported that the edge of the trim piece wasn't secured and trapped the sole of a leather work boot.

Drivers who file complaints are not identified by NHTSA. Two of the four complaints were from drivers of rental cars, the agency said. A fifth complaint was filed in an unidentified foreign country, according to NHTSA.

Investigations can lead to recalls but so far there are none in this case. Messages were left seeking comment Saturday from a Nissan spokesman.

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