Recent recalls for vehicles equipped with Takata airbags affect about 34 million vehicles worldwide. In the United States, Fiat/Chrysler has responded to this problem in 2015 by recalling 753,156 vehicles in the U.S., and another 175,341 elsewhere in North America. The defect noted in the latest recall is one that may cause the airbags to deploy inadvertently, even if those airbags had previously been recalled for another defect.
Chrysler Airbag Recall
There are many problems that have occurred with the functioning of Takata airbag systems. Takata engineers knew of various defects in 2004, but the company prevented them from publicizing those problems, and the engineers were forced to hide evidence. By 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued warnings and began to call for recalls for Takata airbags for vehicle years 2002-2008 and later through 2015. The government also acted in 1991, passing the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. This piece of legislation requires installation of airbags in cars and trucks made or sold in America; cars by 1997 and trucks by 1998. Airbags now are standard equipment on over 100 million vehicles.
When it became obvious that there were some defects in the Takata airbag systems, recalls began to be issued. There have been several deaths and hundreds of injuries from Takata airbag failures. Even replacement parts were faulty, still causing problems like the originals. Another factor affecting recalls is the difficulty in obtaining replacement parts from Takata. Dealers will do repairs free and customers are urged to take their vehicles in for replacement of faulty airbags as soon as possible if recalled.
Airbag Deployment Accidents
Most Takata airbag deployment accidents are related to their inflator part. This item is contained within the folded airbag. When a sensor activates the inflator, two chemicals – sodium azide and potassium nitrate – that are contained inside this device mix to create hot hydrogen gas. This gas then expands at a rapid rate to unfold and inflate the airbag, thus providing protection for the vehicle occupant during a collision. This action takes place at speeds in excess of 100 mph, and it is easy to see how a person might be harmed if the inflator or its metal wiring cage shatter and release metal shards into the vehicle.
Some other defects also may cause air bags to deploy inadvertently at slow speeds or even while the vehicle is not in operation. This may even happen to airbags that have already been repaired for a separate defect that caused as many as six reported deaths from deployments with excessive force in crashes. Not functioning at all defeats the purpose of having an airbag, while improper or premature inflation can be equally disastrous.
Other problems involving airbag deployment include side airbags that are inflated just when a passenger leans too hard on the door panel. Other side airbag accidents have occurred when a vehicle was sideswiped or hit something on the side; the airbag either did not work or inflated unexpectedly, harming a passenger or child. If the vent system on the airbag does not allow release of some of the contents, the bag could remain hard enough to cause damage from forceful impact to the occupant in the chest or cardiac region, or the face.
Airbag Failure Injuries
Airbags are seemingly beneficial and innocent, and they are standard equipment, mandated to be on all vehicles made or sold in the United States by 1998. It is proven that they save lives, but for some unfortunate persons, defective airbags also took away life or caused injuries.
Airbag failure injuries can be very serious, especially if you are harmed by metal fragments that are propelled through the air like shrapnel. Even small pieces of metal can result in death, as happened to a 17 year old Texas girl in April of 2016. Her Takata airbag deployed when she had a slow speed accident, but it also released metal shards that hit her in the neck, puncturing her jugular vein and carotid artery. Exploding airbags may also release chemicals into the air, which can cause burns and lung injuries.
Other injuries due to airbag deployment include chest area and cardiac injury when the occupant was too close to the airbag and the airbag did not vent sufficiently to be a cushion rather than a hard object. It is recommended that you sit at least 10 inches from the steering wheel to help avoid this event. If facial areas also collide with an airbag that is expanding at great force, there could be injuries to the eyes and other areas of the head. The actual sound created by the expansion explosion also has caused serious ear and eardrum damage to some people.
Chrysler Models Recalled
This is the basic list of Chrysler brand models recalled:
- 2007-2009 Chrysler Aspen
- 2005-2012 Chrysler 300
- 2005-2010 Chrysler 300C
- 2007-2008 Chrysler Crossfire
- 2005-2010 Chrysler SRT8
- 2013 Chrysler Town & Country minivans
Chrysler is taking another move to protect users, according to a June 21, 2016 Consumers Report article. They report that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it will end NAFTA-market production of vehicles equipped with non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate Takata air bag inflators by the end of June. This will be followed by global production ending by mid-September.
VIN Number Search
Chrysler and other auto and truck manufacturers and sellers urge vehicle owners to do whatever it takes to determine if their vehicle has been recalled for any reason. This is simple to do by calling the dealer or doing a VIN number search.
Check your VIN number to verify if the vehicle you drive is on a recall list for any reason. This information is online at the government website that features the latest information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html, or by checking your VIN number at: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.
Airbag Recall Chrysler Vehicles
This American auto manufacturer also has issued a recall for the years 2007-2010 in some of these models: Aspen, 300, 300C, Crossfire, SRT8.
Additional Auto Maker Airbag Lawsuits