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Exploding air bags from Moses Lake, Mexico spur do-not-drive order for Dodge, Chrysler vehicles

Nov. 3, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:03 p.m.

A sign stands outside Chrysler’s Mack Avenue Engine plant in Detroit, Mich., on Feb. 27, 2019.  (Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg)
A sign stands outside Chrysler’s Mack Avenue Engine plant in Detroit, Mich., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg)
By Jacob Bogage Washington Post

Owners of more than 276,000 vehicles manufactured by Chrysler and Dodge should stop driving them because of the risk of air bags exploding with too much force, federal auto safety officials said Thursday.

The recall applies to Dodge Magnums, Chargers and Challengers, as well as Chrysler 300s. The affected model years are 2005 to 2010.

Officials issued the warning after two motorists died in separate crashes when the driver’s-side air bag, manufactured by the-now-defunct Japanese auto parts company Takata at plants in Moses Lake and Monclova, Mexico, exploded with too much force.

Vehicle owners should arrange for free repairs by contacting their local auto dealers or the dedicated Fiat Chrysler air bag recall center at (833) 585-0144. They should not drive their vehicles to obtain that service, federal officials said.

“Left unrepaired, recalled Takata air bags are increasingly dangerous as the risk of an explosion rises as vehicles age. Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled air bag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death,” acting administrator Ann Carlson of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement.

In a statement, Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler’s parent company, said it had a “sufficient inventory of new air bags to meet demand.” The repair procedure takes less than one hour.

“Owners or custodians of these vehicles will be contacted directly, advised to stop driving their vehicles and urged to obtain the necessary service, which continues to be available free of charge at any certified FCA-brand dealer,” the company said, referring to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Representatives of Joyson Safety Systems, which purchased Takata in 2018, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since 2013, NHTSA has forced recalls of 67 million Takata air bags because of a defect that can cause them to explode with too much force, sometimes launching shrapnel at motorists.

Takata pleaded guilty in 2017 to criminal wrongdoing to resolve charges that it covered up those defects. The company paid a $1 billion penalty, which included $125 million for a victim compensation fund and $850 million for automakers to finance repairs.

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