Exploding Takata air bags, 2 fatalities prompt warning for some Dodge, Chrysler drivers
The owners of more than a quarter-million older Dodge and Chrysler cars are being told not to drive their vehicles after two people died in separate crashes involving exploding Takata air bags.
Information was limited, but the crashes involved 2010 Dodge Chargers, according to a news release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
FCA, the U.S. operating arm of Stellantis, issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for about 276,000 2005-2010 Dodge Magnums, Chargers, Challengers and Chrysler 300s, the release said.
The agency, which notes that tens of millions of vehicles with Takata air bags are currently under recall, said it was also aware of several other suspected inflator ruptures in vehicles from other automakers potentially caused by exploding Takata air bags.
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The automaker noted in its own release that it is voluntarily undertaking the campaign, but that it is “urgently” warning customers who have not yet addressed Takata driver-side air bag recalls to immediately stop driving their vehicles.
“Owners or custodians of these vehicles will be contacted directly, advised to stop driving their vehicles and urged to obtain the necessary service, which continues to be available free of charge at any certified FCA-brand dealer. FCA – the first automaker to migrate from Takata to an alternate source of replacement parts – has sufficient inventory of new air bags to meet demand,” according to the automaker. “The longer these particular vehicles remain unrepaired, the greater the risk of an air-bag rupture, in event of a crash. Free replacement driver-side air bags have been available for this population since 2015.”
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The air bags related to the recall are no longer used in the company’s new vehicles, the release said.
The company said it’s been involved in an “aggressive outreach” to get owners and custodians affected by Takata recalls to get service.
“To date, through various initiatives, the company has generated nearly 210 million standard and first-class letters, courier deliveries, e-mails, text messages, while also making phone calls and home visits. Many owners say they don’t have time to obtain the remedy. However, the repair procedure takes well under one hour,” according to the company, which noted that it “extends its sympathies to the families and friends of those affected by these incidents.”
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Customers who are unaware of their vehicles’ recall status can call (833) 585-0144. They can also check their Vehicle Identification Numbers at mopar.com/recalls, checktoprotect.org or nhtsa.gov/recalls, according to the company.
NHTSA is urging all vehicle owners to immediately check to see whether their vehicle has an open Takata air bag recall, and if so, to schedule a free repair as soon as possible.
“Left unrepaired, recalled Takata air bags are increasingly dangerous as the risk of an explosion rises as vehicles age. Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled air bag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in the release. “An exploding Takata air bag can send metal fragments toward the driver or passengers, and this shrapnel can kill – and has killed or maimed people.”
The release noted that “even minor crashes can result in exploding air bags that can kill or produce life-altering injuries.”
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence. Become a subscriber.