Park older models due to 3 airbag deaths – Orange County Register

By Tom Krisher | The associated press

Stellantis and the US government are warning owners of 276,000 older vehicles to call it quits after Takata airbags apparently exploded in three other vehicles, killing the drivers.

The company, formerly Fiat Chrysler, is calling on people to stop driving Dodge Magnum cars, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005 through 2010 model years.

Stellantis says it has confirmed driver airbag inflators blew apart in two cases, killing two drivers of 2010 Dodge Chargers. The company suspects a ruptured inflator in another case that also killed a driver of an unspecified 2010 Dodge. All three deaths occurred in warm-weather U.S. states and occurred within the past seven months, the company said.

The fatalities bring the death toll from detonating Takata airbags to at least 32 worldwide, including 23 in the United States.

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.

Stellantis is warning owners of 276,000 older vehicles to call it quits Thursday, November 3, 2022, after the Takata driver’s airbags apparently exploded, killing three more people. The company, formerly Fiat Chrysler, is calling on people to stop driving Dodge Magnum cars, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005 through 2010 model years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries occurred in US states with warmer weather.

The Stellantis vehicles with the “Do Not Drive” warning were all recalled in 2015 and free repairs have been available ever since. Stellantis said it made numerous attempts to reach owners, but the repairs were not made. The recalls affect vehicles in which the airbag inflators were not replaced as part of the recall.

“Unrepaired, recalled Takata airbags become increasingly dangerous as the risk of explosion increases as vehicles age,” Ann Carlson, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a statement. “Each day that goes by when you don’t get a recalled airbag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”

On Thursday, NHTSA urged all owners to check whether their vehicles have an unrepaired Takata airbag recall. Drivers can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if they have any outstanding recalls.

The agency said even minor accidents could cause airbags to inflate with the possibility of explosions that could kill or injure people.

In its statement, NHTSA said it is aware of other suspected Takata inflator failures in vehicles from other automakers. The agency says it is working with manufacturers to confirm the fractures, but would not provide further details.

Stellantis said any of its customers who are unsure whether their vehicles have been recalled can call (833) 585-0144. Owners can call the hotline to arrange to have their car towed to a dealer and alternative transportation, the company said.

The company says repairs typically take less than an hour.

The company said it has made 210 million attempts to reach owners with recalled Takata airbag inflators, including letters, couriers, emails, texts, phone calls and home visits. The company has recalled nearly 2 million vehicles with Takata inflators.

In the three recent cases where people were killed, Stellantis said it made 153 attempts to reach owners.

The company “expresses its condolences to the families and friends of those affected by these incidents,” said Stellantis’ statement.

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

Most deaths occurred in the US, but also in Australia and Malaysia.

The first death caused by a Takata inflator occurred in Oklahoma in 2009.

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