Passenger in 2003 Dodge Ram Killed by Recalled Takata Airbag
Written by David A. Wood, CarComplaints.com
Published July 12, 2023
A 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 owner who was riding in the front passenger seat of the truck was killed May 13 when the Takata airbag inflator exploded in a crash.
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has issued a "DO NOT DRIVE" warning for 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 trucks that have not had their Takata airbags replaced.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed the fatality was caused by a ruptured passenger-side Takata airbag inflator, and it involved one of 385,686 trucks recalled in 2015.
Like several automakers involved with Takata airbag recalls over many years, Chrysler said owners continue to ignore the importance of the Takata recalls.
"Six recall notices were sent to this customer’s home address. All went unheeded," FCA said.
At least 26 people have been killed in the U.S. by exploding Takata airbag inflators in various models from several automakers, but it's the first fatality in a Ram truck.
"The company extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the customer whose life was lost in the May tragedy. It is the fourth such incident known to involve an FCA-brand vehicle," Chrysler said.
NHTSA said if a recalled Ram truck has not been repaired, occupants are "at grave risk of serious injury or death."
“The older a defective Takata air bag inflator gets, the more dangerous it becomes," said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson. "Please, get your airbag replaced now for your sake, and for the sake of those who love you. Don’t put yourself or someone you love at risk of dying or being seriously injured because of a defective, recalled Takata airbag. These repairs are absolutely free and could save your life.”
NHTSA is correct, and there is no reason any of these trucks should not have been repaired long ago.
Automakers involved in the Takata airbag disaster have taken extreme measures to convince vehicle owners to keep occupants safe by having their vehicles repaired. In some cases, manufacturers have sent teams of representatives to the homes of owners across the country in an attempt to convince customers to have the airbag inflators replaced.
In 2022, it was confirmed a Chrysler 300 driver was killed by a Takata airbag even though the owner asked FCA about the airbag recall in 2018. However, the Chrysler owner declined to have the airbag inflator replaced and the automaker continued to send warnings about the airbags.
According to FCA, the company tried "114 outreach attempts" during a period of seven years but the vehicle was never brought in for free repairs.
The owner loaned the Chrysler 300 to a family member who was killed when the driver's airbag exploded.
The "do not drive" warning for 2003 Dodge Ram trucks joins stop-driving warnings for 2005-2010 Dodge Magnum, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles with unrepaired recalled Takata airbags.
According to FCA, it will provide free alternative transportation to assist customers with getting to and from dealerships.
If you own one of these recalled vehicles or believe you know someone who does, call the Fiat Chrysler Takata call center at 833-585-0144 or visit www.mopar.com/en-us/my-vehicle/recalls/takata-recalls.html.