Luckily for 100,000 owners of Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles from the 2005 - 2010 model years, the process is coming to an end much sooner than that.
Why is Takata's recall taking so long to complete? Here three key reasons:
1. Takata itself: For years, the Japanese supplier refused to acknowledge that its use of ammonium nitrate in airbag inflators was dangerous. The company was so uncooperative that U.S. regulators began issuing daily fines. Ultimately, it took the involvement of outside investigators to unravel why Takata's airbags were occasionally exploding upon deployment. To date, the devices have killed 16 and injured more than 100 others.
2. The complexity of the problem: Ammonium nitrate is notoriously prone to destabilization, and when it's destabilized, bad things happen. (For reference, the compound was used in the Oklahoma City bombing two decades ago.) However, regulators had a tough time figuring out what was causing the ammonium nitrate in Takata's airbag inflators to destabilize. Eventually, it was determined that the primary culprits were moisture and high temperatures.
That, in turn, resulted in a phased, geographically oriented recall process--one that was further complicated by the fact that some cars were equipped with Takata inflators on just the driver's side, some had them just on the passenger's side, and others had the devices on both sides. Regulators and automakers alike had to determine which cars in which areas to prioritize and which to repair later. Why not do them all at once? That's because of...
3. The size of the recall: At last count, the Takata recall affected 42 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. Finding replacement parts for all those cars has been challenging--not least because many automakers are now wary of using parts manufactured by Takata.
FCA's new recall
As you might guess with a recall like this one, FCA's is a bit complicated, so pay attention.
Some models are being recalled to replace their driver's side airbag inflators. Those models include:
- 2009 Chrysler Aspen
- 2009 Dodge Durango
- 2010 Ram 3500 chassis cabs
Meanwhile, the 2005-2009 Ram 2500 pickup is being recalled to replace inflators on the passenger's side.
Thankfully, FCA says that it knows of no excessive deployments or injuries resulting from the airbags in any of those models.
The recalls affect 86,403 vehicles registered in the U.S., 7743 registered in Canada, 1,304 registered in Mexico, and 5,262 outside North America.
FCA will begin mailing recall notices to owners of those vehicles on January 11. After receiving the notices, owners will be able to take their vehicles to dealerships for service, where the relevant airbag inflators will be replaced, free of charge. Service for vehicles needing new driver's side devices is available immediately, but fixes for those needing passenger's side inflators isn't expected to begin until the second quarter of the year.
FCA also notes that the replacement inflators aren't made by Takata.
If you own one of the vehicles mentioned above and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact FCA US Customer Care Center at 800-853-1403.