Stellantis urged owners of thousands of 2003 Dodge Ram pickups to “immediately stop” driving the vehicles if their Takata airbags have not been replaced, the company said Tuesday.
The “Do Not Drive” consumer alert follows a May 13 fatal accident involving one of the trucks that US regulators said constituted the 26th death in the United States tied to the defective part.
The company, then known as Chrysler recalled 385,686 of the vehicles in 2015.
US regulators estimate that roughly 84,000 of the vehicles remained unrepaired, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An estimated 29,000 are still on US roads, Stellantis said.
Stellantis sent six recall notices, but “all went unheeded,” the company said.
“NHTSA is urging ALL vehicle owners to immediately check to see if their vehicle has an open Takata airbag recall,” the agency said. “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.”
The Takata brand disappeared in 2018 following bankruptcy in the wake of the airbag scandal, which affected almost every major global automaker, including Toyota and General Motors, and triggered the auto industry’s biggest-ever safety recall.
The airbag defect was linked to ammonium nitrate, the chemical used as a propellant in Takata’s airbag inflator canisters.
The chemical degraded, especially in humid conditions, meaning that in some cases the airbag did not inflate properly and sometimes ruptured, firing metal shrapnel at the vehicle’s occupants.