May’s death is believed to be the first to be killed by an exploding front passenger airbag. The rest of the dead were the driver.
DETROIT – Stellantis is urging owners of some 29,000 old Dodge Ram pickups to stop driving them after a passenger was killed when a Takata airbag inflator exploded.
The company said owners of 2003 pickups should contact their dealer or company to find out if their truck is included in Takata’s large-scale recall. Stellantis says that the truck shouldn’t be driven until the repairs are done.
The company said the person was killed in a crash May 13 that caused the airbag to deploy. It will not say where the crash happened or identify the victim. Stellantis said in a prepared statement Tuesday that the person “passed away from a serious injury consistent with those observed in previous Takata inflatable failures.”
This is the 26th death in the United States since May 2009, and more than 30 people have died worldwide. May’s death is believed to be the first to be killed by an exploding front passenger airbag. The rest of the dead were the driver.
Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the airbag on impact. But the chemical can become more volatile over time with repeated exposure to moisture in the air and high temperatures. The explosion could shatter the metal box and throw sharp shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries have occurred in the United States, but they have also occurred in Australia and Malaysia.
The potential for dangerous malfunctions has led to the largest series of auto recalls in US history, with at least 67 million Takata inflatable parts involved. The US government says that millions have not been repaired. About 100 million inflatables have been recalled worldwide. Exploding airbags caused the bankruptcy of Japan’s Takata Corporation.
Stellantis says it will offer free shipping to help people and their vehicles get to and from dealerships.
The company said the May death was the fourth in its vehicles. The pickups were recalled in 2015 and six notices were sent to the owners’ homes, but recall repairs were not made.
Last year, Stellantis told owners of Chrysler 300s and Dodge Magnums, Chargers and Challengers from models from 2005 to 2010 to stop driving them after three other deaths were reported.
The company says about 233,000 vehicles have not been repaired and are still on the road despite multiple efforts to reach owners.