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Takata rupture fatality prompts ‘do not drive’ warning

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a “do not drive” warning for 2003 Dodge Ram 1500s after a passenger was killed by a Takata air bag rupture.

The federal administration said this was the first time a Takata death has been attributed to an exploding passenger-side inflator, and the first related to this make and model of vehicle.

Chrysler initially recalled certain model year 2003 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks in 2015. The recall applied to vehicles manufactured from August 29, 2002 to July 25 2003 to address a safety defect in the passenger side frontal air bag inflator.

The OEM said at the time that the defect could “produce excessive internal pressure causing the inflator to rupture upon deployment of the air bag.”

The initial recall of 385,686 Rams applied to both passenger and front air bags that were either originally installed in the vehicles or ones that may have been reinstalled as replacement parts.

According to NHTSA, about 84,000 pickup trucks have yet to be repaired meaning their occupants are “at grave risk of serious injury or death.”

“The older a defective Takata air bag inflator gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Please, get your air bag replaced now for your sake, and for the sake of those who love you,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA acting administrator Ann Carlson. “Don’t put yourself or someone you love at risk of dying or being seriously injured because of a defective, recalled Takata air bag. These repairs are absolutely free and could save your life.”

Takata air bags, which have now been linked to 26 U.S. deaths, and issues with their inflators have been ongoing since 2008.

Approximately 67 million air bags used by 19 OEMs have been recalled because the air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injuries or death. The inflators use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate as a propellant that has been known to result in violent explosions and send metal shrapnel into the faces of vehicle occupants.

“It is imperative that all vehicle owners check now for open Takata recalls, and get the repair done as soon as possible if their vehicle is under recall,” NHTSA said while urging all drivers to check their vehicles for an open Takata recall.

“If it does, owners need to contact their dealership to schedule a free repair as soon as possible and follow any warnings from the vehicle manufacturer,” it said. “Even minor crashes can result in exploding Takata air bags that can kill or produce life-altering, gruesome injuries.”

Separately, General Motors (GM) voluntarily recalled nearly 995,000 vehicles over defective air bag inflators earlier this year while NHTSA demanded the manufacturer, ARC Automotive, recall 67 million inflators.

That recall population includes model year 2014-2017 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles, already included in the GM recall.

ARC inflators use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) as a propellant that has been known to result in violent explosions and send metal shrapnel into the faces of vehicle occupants.

However, a Canadian woman recently detailed that when she reached out to a GM dealership to have her 2017 Traverse air bag replaced as part of the recall, she was told the OEM didn’t have the replacement parts necessary to make the fix.

“I was told on the phone by GM that I could rent a car until the parts are available but it would be at my own expense,” Jillian Grimes told CTV News. “I’m left with the decision: do we go into further debt for peace of mind and know that we’re safe, or are we just going to wait to see if GM’s going to do something about it? Which so far they’re not.”

Grimes also shared her recall letter with the outlet that said “parts to repair your vehicle are not currently available.”

A Transport Canada spokesperson told CTV that automakers aren’t required to fix a recall within a specified amount of time.

A GM spokesman told Repairer Driven News that the automaker is “working with its suppliers to develop and validate a remedy as soon as possible.”
“When we have replacement parts, we will make them available to dealers for the necessary repairs,” he said.
Until then, GM is referring its customers to its GM Recall and Warranty Center website where they can check the status of the recall.

As it relates to the Takata recall, NHTSA said vehicle owners can use its online tool to check for recalls, download its app, or sign up for alerts to be notified if their vehicle is affected by a future recall.

Those who prefer dealing with the manufacturer can call the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Takata Call Center at 833-585-0144 or visit its website.


Featured image credit: jpgfactory/iStock

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