Stellantis urges 276,000 U.S. owners to stop driving after airbag deaths

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Chrysler-parent Stellantis is urging owners of some 276,000 older U.S. vehicles to immediately stop driving after three crash deaths tied to faulty Takata airbag inflators were reported in the last seven months. It is not yet clear how many, if any, vehicles are affected in Canada.

The “Do Not Drive” warning is for owners of previously recalled 2005 to 2010 Dodge Magnum station wagons, Dodge Challenger coupes, and Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans who have not yet addressed Takata driver-side air-bag recalls.

Stellantis said replacement driver-side air bags have been available for the vehicles subject to the stop driving notice since 2015, and that it had made more than 150 total contact attempts to try to convince the owners of the vehicles involved in the three fatal crashes to get recall repairs completed.

More than 30 deaths worldwide and hundreds of injuries in various automakers’ vehicles are linked to Takata airbag inflators that can explode, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. Most of the deaths reported have been in Honda vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Thursday it had confirmed two people died in separate crashes involving 2010 Dodge Chargers where the Takata driver’s side airbags exploded. Stellantis said a Takata airbag was suspected in a third death.

The NHTSA said it was aware of several other suspected inflator ruptures in vehicles from other automakers potentially due to exploding Takata airbags. There have been more than 400 U.S. injuries reported tied to Takata airbags.

Over the last decade, more than 67 million Takata air bag inflators have been recalled in the United States and more than 100 million worldwide, in the biggest auto safety callback in history. “Left unrepaired, recalled Takata air bags are increasingly dangerous as the risk of an explosion rises as vehicles age,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson.

Last year, the NHTSA opened a probe into 30 million vehicles built by nearly two dozen automakers that have potentially defective Takata air bag inflators. The 30 million vehicles that are part of the 2021 investigation have inflators with a “desiccant” or drying agent.

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