Stellantis and US security agencies have confirmed that an exploding Takata airbag inflator killed another driver.
The company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have again warned owners of 274,000 older Dodge and Chrysler vehicles to stop driving them until faulty inflators are replaced.
Stellantis announced two deaths in November caused by the airbags and said it suspected the inflators caused another. The company formerly known as Fiat Chrysler confirmed the third death early Monday.
Stellantis is asking people not to drive 2005-2010 model year Dodge Magnums, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and Chrysler 300 sedans.
Since 2009, the exploding airbags have killed at least 33 people worldwide, including 24 in the United States.
All three deaths this year occurred in warm-weather U.S. states and have been occurring since April, the company said.
Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. But the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to moisture in the air and repeated exposure to high temperatures. The explosion can rupture a metal canister and throw splinters into the passenger compartment.
Most deaths and about 400 injuries occurred in the United States, but also in Australia and Malaysia.
The Stellantis vehicles with the Do Not Drive warning were all recalled in 2015 and free repairs have been available since then. Dealers have the parts and the service is free, and Stellantis will provide transportation to get the vehicles to and from a dealer, the company said.
According to NHTSA, the last person killed was driving a 2010 Chrysler 300.
“Time is of the essence here as the risk increases with each passing day that these airbag inflators are not replaced,” said Tom McCarthy, global head of safety and regulatory compliance at Stellantis.
The recalls affect vehicles where the airbag inflators were not replaced as part of the recall.
NHTSA urged all owners to check if their vehicles have an unrepaired Takata airbag recall. Drivers can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if they have any outstanding recalls.
“This holiday season, don’t assume that you or someone you love will die or be seriously injured as a result of a defective, recalled Takata airbag,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA assistant administrator.
In a statement, Stellantis said the vehicle’s owner asked the company about the 2018 airbag recall, but then declined to schedule a service. The company said it had sent 114 urgent notices to the owner over the past seven years.
The owner loaned the vehicle to a family member who was killed in a crash in July when the inflator blew apart, Stellantis said. The company declined to say where the crash occurred but said it sent its deepest condolences to the family.
Earlier this month, NHTSA said the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord was killed when the driver’s airbag inflator ruptured, hurling splinters. According to Honda, the accident happened on February 2. 22 at Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The potential for the dangerous malfunction led to the largest series of auto recalls in US history, with at least 67 million Takata inflators recalled. The US government says millions have not been repaired. Around 100 million gas generators have been recalled worldwide. The exploding airbags sent the Japanese company Takata Corp into bankruptcy.
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