Defective Takata airbags are still killing people, almost a decade on from the initial discovery of the problem and subsequent recalls.
Three people were recently killed in separate crashes, bringing the worldwide death toll from the defective airbags to 32, of which 23 occurred in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
The latest round of deaths, which occurred in Stellantis vehicles, led the automaker to announce on Thursday that owners of certain Dodge and Chrysler vehicles should immediately stop driving their vehicles until the defective airbags are replaced, which is a service Stellantis is offering free of charge.
The vehicles listed in Stellantis’ alert include Dodge Challengers, Chargers, and Magnums from model years 2005-2010, and Chrysler 300s of the same vintage. Approximately 276,000 vehicles are affected in the U.S.
Takata logo (photo by Flickr user jo.schz)
Recalls for the vehicles were first issued in 2015, but Stellantis said many owners failed to take their vehicles in for the service. It plans to continue encouraging those owners to have the service done, either via post, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, or home visits.
Since the Takata airbag investigation started in 2014, the Japanese company has filed for bankruptcy and been absorbed by Chinese rival Key Safety Systems. Three former senior executives at Takata were also convicted of falsifying data that led to the defective airbag. At its peak, Takata is thought to have had a 20% share of the airbag market.
The problem was caused by the use of ammonium nitrate for inflating the airbag. The chemical can become more explosive over time when exposed to moist air and high temperatures. The increased volatility can rupture a metal canister contained within the airbag, creating deadly shrapnel.
Anyone looking for further information can contact Stellantis at 833-585-0144. They may also check their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) at mopar.com/recalls, checktoprotect.org, or nhtsa.gov/recalls.