Stellantis is now urging owners and custodians of certain older-model Dodge and Chrysler vehicles with unaddressed Takata driver-side airbag recalls to immediately stop driving them and schedule a visit to their local dealership.
At the beginning of November, the U.S. division of the former FCA business unit issued a first warning after two fatal accidents involving defective Takata airbags were reported. The do-not-drive order applied to the 2005-2010 Dodge Charger, Magnum and Challenger, as well as the Chrysler 300.
A third fatality has just been confirmed by Stellantis. The worst part is that the negligent owner loaned the vehicle to a family member who was subsequently killed in a crash when the driver-side air bag ruptured on deployment.
“Time is a critical element here because the risk increases with each day these air-bag inflators go unreplaced,” said Tom McCarthy, global head of Technical Safety and Regulatory Compliance at Stellantis. “We understand the holiday season is a busy time, but nothing is more precious than family and friends who may also be exposed to danger by further delaying service. We have the parts, and the service is free.”
For affected owners and custodians (about 275,000 remain in the U.S.), the company will even pay to have the vehicle towed to a dealership and provide alternative transportation if necessary.
How many vehicles happen to be in the same situation in Canada? Hard to say. Initially, the recalls affected over 830,000 units across the country—not only the models listed above, but also the Dodge Dakota, Durango and Sprinter, Chrysler Aspen, Jeep Wrangler, along with several Ram pickups.
It’s important to note that vehicles in colder climates such as Canada pose less of a risk. Long-term exposure to high humidity and hot temperatures is what can degrade the propellant in the airbag inflator and cause the airbag to deploy with more force than normal.
To this day, FCA/Stellantis has replaced more than 6.1 million defective Takata airbag inflators and sent nearly 210 million mailed notices, emails and text messages while also making countless phone calls and home visits to alert owners.
For used-car shoppers or anyone who is unsure if their vehicle has been repaired, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s website by entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).