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Chrysler recalls 208,000 vehicles for Takata air bags

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Under pressure from federal regulators, Chrysler Group LLC said late Thursday it will expand its recall of vehicles with Takata Corp. air bag inflators by another 208,783, the second expansion in a week.

Chrysler now has recalled about 617,000 vehicles with Takata air bags since June. In total, 10 major automakers have now recalled more than 11 million vehicles with the bags. Inflators in the Takata bags can explode and shoot metal shrapnel at drivers and passengers. At least four people in Hondas have been killed and 46 injured in the U.S., mostly in high-humidity areas like Florida.

Chrysler will notify owners starting Feb. 8.

The new recall covers passenger air bags in vehicles in five additional high humidity states and three additional U.S. territories, including the 2003-05 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup truck, 2004-05 Dodge Durango, 2005 Chrysler 300, 300C, SRT8 and 2005 Dodge Magnum. Of those, 69,600 were covered by a regional field action announced in June.

Initially, Chrysler regional recalls announced in June covered vehicles sold or registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The expanded regional campaign now also covers vehicles sold or currently registered in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“While this is the right move by Chrysler, it should never take an auto manufacturer this long to recall vehicles with a passenger-side air bag that even Takata declared is defective,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Deputy Administrator David Friedman said early Friday. “NHTSA will review Chrysler’s defect report and continue to put pressure on Chrysler to act more responsibly. I urge the company to quickly and completely notify affected owners of this expanded recall.”

Last week, the unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it would recall 149,150 older-model pickups in the expanded areas to address concerns about improper passenger side air-bag deployment in other high humidity states, but stopped short of the broader recall demanded by NHTSA.

Chrysler said is unaware of any injuries or accidents involving the recalled inflators of the type covered by this campaign, nor has a Chrysler Group investigation identified a defect in these components. Further, laboratory tests on nearly 600 such inflators did not result in any failures.

The inflators affected by this campaign differ in design and construction from inflators used by other companies, Chrysler said. “They also benefited from a more robust manufacturing process,” Chrysler said.

In June, Chrysler agreed to recall 371,000 2003-08 Dodge Rams, 2004-08 Dodge Durangos, 2007-08 Chrysler Aspens, 2005-08 Chrysler 300s, 2005-08 Dodge Dakotas and 2006-07 Mitsubishi Raiders. About 109,000 of the vehicles recalled in the last two weeks were originally part of the initial recall announced in June as a a regional field action.

Ford Motor Co. last week agreed to expand its regional recall at NHTSA’s urging.

The Dearborn automaker said it would expand its regional passenger side air bag recall by 13,000 vehicles at NHTSA’s request. The automaker has now recalled 98,000 vehicles with Takata air bags. The expanded recall includes certain 2004-05 Ford Ranger and 2005-06 Ford GTs originally sold or ever registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It adds certain ZIP codes with high humidity in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa.