Dodge and Chrysler owners urged cars to repair after another Takata airbag death

Safety agencies are urging drivers to have their older Dodge and Chrysler vehicles checked after another driver died due to an exploding Takata airbag inflator.

Stellantis and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration repeated warnings to owners of 274,000 older Dodge and Chrysler vehicles to stop driving them until faulty air pumps are replaced.

Stellantis announced two deaths from the airbags in November and said it suspected the inflators caused another. The company formerly known as Fiat Chrysler confirmed its third death early Monday.

Dodge and Chrysler models affected

Vehicles affected by the recall include Dodge Magnum wagons, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and Chrysler 300 sedans from model years 2005 through 2010. Last month, the company issued a “Do Not Drive” warning on these vehicles.

Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. But the chemical can become more volatile over time with exposure to moisture in the air and repeated high temperatures. The explosion could rupture a metal canister and throw shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

All three of the deaths this year were in warm-weather U.S. states and had occurred since April, Stellantis said.

Since 2009, exploding airbags have killed at least 33 people worldwide, including 24 in the United States. Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries occurred in the US, but also in Australia and Malaysia.

Last death

The Stellantis vehicles with the “Do Not Drive” warning were all recalled in 2015 and free repairs have been available ever since. Dealers have the parts, don’t charge for the service, and Stellantis handles the transportation to get the vehicles to and from a dealer, the company said.

NHTSA said the last person to die was driving a 2010 Chrysler 300.

“Don’t put yourself or someone you love at risk of dying or being seriously injured this holiday season because of a faulty, recalled Takata airbag. These repairs are completely free and could save your life,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson. said in a statement.

“Time is a critical element here, as the risk increases with each passing day of these airbag inflators not being replaced,” said Tom McCarthy, Global Head of Safety and Regulatory Compliance at Stellantis.


General Motors is recalling 5.9 million vehicles to replace Takata airbags

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In a statement, Stellantis said the owner of the vehicle had asked the company about the 2018 airbag recall, but subsequently refused to schedule a service. The company said it had sent 114 urgent messages to the owner over the past seven years.

The owner lent the vehicle to a family member who died in a crash in July when the inflator blew apart, Stellantis said. The company, which says it expresses its deepest condolences to the family, would not say where the crash took place.

Death of naval officer

When Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrived at a crash scene in Pensacola this summer, they found 23-year-old Hayden Jones Jr. dead behind the wheel of a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck, with neck wounds that initially looked like a possible shooting. Press reported in September.

A trooper later reported to NHTSA that the injuries were caused by the deployment of an airbag in the vehicle in the accident, which occurred in July.

While the NHTSA is investigating and has not yet made a final decision, the family of Jones, a naval officer, said there is ample evidence that the death was caused by an exploding Takata airbag. It would come six years after the start of a recall of that vehicle model.

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The 23-year-old naval officer was found dead behind the wheel in July 2022 by Florida Highway Patrol troopers in Pensacola. A trooper later reported to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that injuries were due to the deployment of an airbag in the 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck in the accident.

Jones Family via AP


The NHTSA recall notices for the 2006 Ford Ranger underline the urgency, saying that owners should not drive these vehicles “unless you go directly to a dealer to have them repaired.”

Ford said at the time it notified the vehicle’s owner of the recall — and even went to the owner’s home to try and schedule repairs — but the Jones family said it never received a recall notice from the manufacturer received and filed a wrongful death lawsuit, according to the AP.

The vehicle was originally purchased by Jones’ father, Hayden Jones Sr., according to the lawsuit filed in September against Ford, the dealer and the owner and driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, the Colombian reported.

The recall system is weak

Cases like this, where necessary repairs never happen, show that the system is broken, William Wallace, a security attorney for Consumer Reports, told the AP. He said the recall system is weak in part because it relies heavily on owners staying abreast of recall notices.

Earlier this month, NHTSA said the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord was killed when the driver’s airbag ruptured and ejected shrapnel. Honda said the crash occurred on Feb. 22 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Potential for the dangerous failure led to the largest series of car recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million Takata inflators recalled. The US government says millions of vehicles have not been repaired. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide. The exploding airbags sent Japan’s Takata Corp. bankrupt.

Consumers can search to see if their vehicle is subject to this or any other recall by entering their VIN number at nhtsa.gov/recalls.

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