More airbag deaths lead to Dodge Charger, Challenger recall

Exploding Takata airbags have killed three more people, prompting Stellantis to urge owners to stop driving older model Dodge and Chrysler vehicles, the AP reported Thursday. 

The company formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles warned owners to stop driving more than 276,000 older model Chrysler 300 sedans, Dodge Magnum wagons, and Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars due to lethal risks caused by the faulty airbags. The affected vehicles are from the 2005 to 2010 model years. 

The three deaths occurred in the U.S. in the past seven months, and were attributable to faulty Takata airbag inflators that could explode and send metal shrapnel from the safety devices into the cabin. Two separate crashes in 2010 Dodge Chargers caused two deaths when the driver’s side airbag exploded. 

Installed in cars from 2002-2015, the Takata airbags were meant to save lives in a crash. Even minor crashes such as fender-benders can trigger the airbags and the subsequent inflator shrapnel “that can kill or produce life-altering injuries,” the NHTSA says. The Japanese supplier went bankrupt and has since been dissolved amid historic penalties and lawsuits.

The largest and most widespread recall in automotive history started late in 2014 and continues to reverberate worldwide, with 32 deaths caused by the exploding shrapnel, and now 23 fatalities in the U.S. There have been more than 400 injuries caused to occupants in the U.S., and the recall covers 19 automakers across more than 42 million cars and encompassing more than 67 million inflators in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. The safety agency continues to investigate more vehicles with Takata airbags. 

The NHTSA added that millions of cars have not been repaired, including those in the three most recent fatal instances. 

It cannot be stressed enough how critical it is to get the airbags repaired for free under recall. The affected cars listed in this recall were originally recalled in 2015, but the airbag inflators still have not been replaced. 

“Left unrepaired, recalled Takata airbags are increasingly dangerous as the risk of an explosion rises as vehicles age,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled airbag replaced, puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”

The fix should happen immediately. Owners can call Stellantis’s dedicated Takata airbag recall line at 833-585-0144 or visit the company’s Takata airbag recall page. The NHTSA has a landing page for all Takata-related airbag recall information across all automakers.