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Nissan recalls new Altima in U.S. on loose steering bolts

(Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co is recalling 13,919 of its top-selling Altima sedans in the United States because bolts that may not have been tightened properly during production could fall off, increasing the risk of a crash, according to U.S. safety regulators.

The Altima sedans are from the 2012 and 2013 model years and were made at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, from May 10 to July 26, Nissan North America told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Some of the subject vehicles may have been manufactured with four transverse link bolts and two power steering rack bolts that were not torqued to the proper specification," Nissan told regulators in a letter NHTSA showed on its website.

As a result, the bolts may shake loose during driving, the letter states, and drivers may notice a rattling noise.

Nissan said there have been no crashes or injuries as a result of this issue.

Through September, 27 percent of the vehicles Nissan sold in the U.S. market were Altima sedans.

Altima sales through September were up 17 percent from last year, at 234,040.

Altima owners will be asked to bring their cars to Nissan dealerships, where the bolts will be torqued to the proper specification, NHTSA said. The cars are under warranty protection.

"Based on engineering judgment, it was determined that if a loose bolt falls out completely, the driver may experience difficulty in controlling the direction of the vehicle," Nissan told NHTSA.

Nissan said that on July 26, the last day the vehicles involved in the recall were produced with the potential problem at the Canton plant, workers noticed the issue during a routine test.

On September 21, Nissan confirmed that some of the subject vehicles were at its dealers. On October 3, it decided a safety defect existed and a recall would be conducted.

Owners will begin to be notified on October 29, Nissan told NHTSA.

(Adds omitted word "no" to say no crashes or injuries)

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Dan Grebler)

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