Airbag hazard spurs recall bans 276000 Dodge and Chrysler vehicles.jpgw1440

Airbag hazard spurs recall, bans 276,000 Dodge and Chrysler vehicles

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

The recall applies to Dodge Magnums, Chargers and Challengers, and 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 airbag, made by now-defunct Japanese auto parts company Takata, exploded with too much force.

Vehicle owners should arrange a no-cost repair by contacting their local car dealer or the appropriate Fiat Chrysler Air Bag Recall Center at 833-585-0144. They should not drive their vehicles to receive this service, federal officials said.

“Unrepaired, recalled Takata airbags are becoming increasingly dangerous as the risk of explosion increases as vehicles age. Every day that passes that a recalled airbag is not 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. “An exploding Takata airbag can hurl shards of metal toward the driver or passengers, and that shrapnel can kill — and has — killed or maimed people.”

In a statement, Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler’s parent company, said it has “sufficient inventory of new airbags to meet demand.” The repair process takes less than an hour.

“Owners or custodians of these vehicles will be contacted directly, instructed to stop driving their vehicles and requested to seek the required service, which remains available free of charge from any FCA-branded certified dealer,” the company said in reference to Fiat Chrysler automobiles.

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

Since 2013, NHTSA has forced the recall of 67 million Takata airbags due to a defect that can cause them to explode with too much force and sometimes shrapnel at motorists.

Takata pleaded guilty to criminal misconduct in 2017 to resolve allegations that it covered up those shortcomings. The company paid a $1 billion penalty, including $125 million for a victim compensation fund and $850 million for automakers to fund repairs.