Chrysler-parent company Stellantis has issued a grave warning to 29,000 owners of 2003 Dodge Ram pickups, urging them to halt driving their trucks immediately pending necessary repairs. The urgent recall was triggered by the tragic death of a front-seat passenger in a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup on May 13, the latest victim in the long-standing Takata airbag recall. This marks the first reported fatality involving a Takata airbag on the passenger side, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Takata airbag inflators have a history of explosion, releasing dangerous metal shrapnel inside vehicles and causing serious injuries or fatalities. The incident in May resulted in the 26th reported death in the United States from injuries caused by a ruptured airbag inflator, but it is the first passenger fatality, with the previous deaths all involving drivers. On a global scale, the Takata airbag crisis has led to approximately 30 fatalities, over 400 injuries, and roughly 100 million vehicles recalled worldwide across various automakers, making it the largest auto safety callback in history.
In response to this alarming development, Stellantis has called for an immediate “Do Not Drive” warning for the 29,000 affected 2003 Dodge Ram pickups that are believed to still be on the roads. This isn’t the first time Stellantis has encountered Takata-related issues, as it urged the owners of 276,000 other older U.S. vehicles in November to stop driving due to three other crash deaths linked to faulty Takata airbag inflators that occurred in 2022.
The 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 involved in the May fatality was part of a recall of 385,686 pickups back in 2015, with approximately 84,000 of these trucks remaining unrepaired. The NHTSA has warned that occupants of these unrepaired vehicles face a significant risk of serious injury or death. Stellantis estimates that 29,000 of the 2003 Dodge Ram trucks are still operational and, as a matter of urgency, has advised owners to park these vehicles immediately.
Stellantis has sent over 210 million notices to owners since the Takata crisis began over 11 years ago. The company revealed that it had sent six recall notices to the home address of the Dodge Ram owner involved in the recent fatality, all of which went unheeded. This highlights the importance of prompt action and compliance with recall notices to ensure public safety.
The affected FCA vehicles include the 2005 to 2010 Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and the 2003 Dodge Ram. Stellantis estimates that there are still approximately 233,000 unrepaired units of these Chrysler and Dodge models on the roads, posing a significant risk to their occupants.