Despite fifteen years of recalls, thousands of vehicles still on the road are equipped with defective and dangerous airbags that need to be replaced immediately, according to an unusual “consumer alert” issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
the alert was prompted by the recent deaths of two people in separate crashes involving 2010 Dodge Chargers. In both cases, driver’s side airbags manufactured by Takata exploded. Since 2008, automakers have issued recalls for more than 40 million vehicles, including many popular models built between 2004 and 2013, because of defective Takata airbags, which have been linked to at least 32 deaths worldwide.
A few weeks ago Fiat Chrysler sent out a “Do Not Drive” warning for 276,000 Dodge Magnums, Chargers, and Challengers, as well as Chrysler 300s, from model years 2005-2010. The NHTSA urges all vehicle owners to check whether their vehicle is listed among the many Takata recalls; if so, they should contact their dealership to schedule a free repair as soon as possible.
“Left unrepaired, recalled Takata airbags are increasingly dangerous as the risk of an explosion rises as vehicles age,” NHTSA acting administrator Ann Carlson stated. “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.”
As detailed in a grand jury indictment, Takata executives chose to use a cost-cutting propellant in the company’s airbags that proved to be unstable. It caused airbags to explode on deployment, sending shrapnel flying throughout the vehicle, maiming or killing the occupants. Even though many of the affected models are now so old that fewer of them are on the road, the ongoing Takata recall has become one of the largest, costliest, and most complex recalls in automotive history.
Checking to see if your ride is subject to a recall is easy. Just enter the vehicle’s VIN number (found on the lower left of your car’s windshield, or on your auto registration or insurance card) into the NHTSA Recall Lookup Tool. Owners of Fiat Chrysler models from the affected years can call the manufacturer directly at 833-585-0144.
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