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Stellantis recalls nearly 318,000 cars to replace side air bags that can explode and hurl shrapnel

By Associated Press
Published: March 22, 2024, 8:13am

DETROIT (AP) — Stellantis is recalling nearly 318,000 Dodge and Chrysler sedans worldwide because the side air bag inflators can explode with too much force and hurl metal fragments at drivers and passengers.

The recall covers air bag inflators on both sides of certain Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 large cars from the 2018 through 2021 model years.

The automaker says in documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators that moisture may get into the inflators due to a manufacturing defect and cause corrosion and cracks. The air bags can inflate even without a crash due to high temperatures in the cabin, the company said. Stellantis has seven warranty claims and customer assistance reports but no reports of injuries, the documents said. Most of the recalled vehicles are in North America.

Dealers will replace both side air bag modules. Owners will be notified starting May 3. Stellantis said in a statement Friday that owners who are concerned about driving their cars should contact the company. It would not say if loaner vehicles would be offered.

Stellantis estimates that 1% of the inflators are defective.

The inflators are made by Joyson Safety Systems, a company that ended up acquiring Japanese air bag maker Takata after its bankruptcy. Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate front air bags in a crash. The chemical propellant can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. It can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel.

Stellantis said the recalled side air bags don’t use the same propellant or inflator design as previously recalled Takata air bags. In five cases investigated by the company, the air bags inflated while the vehicles were parked when the cabin temperature was above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).

At least 26 people have been killed in the U.S. by Takata inflators since May 2009, and at least 30 have died worldwide including people in Malaysia and Australia. In addition, about 400 people have been injured. The potential for a dangerous malfunction led to the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history. About 100 million Takata inflators were recalled worldwide.

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