Chrysler expands air bag recall
Washington — Under government pressure, Chrysler said Friday it will expand its recall of driver-side air bags to all of the United States, and call back an additional 3.3 million cars and trucks.
Chrysler is the the fourth of five automakers to do so after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded the callback in mid-November for about 8 million more vehicles.
In total, 10 automakers have now recalled more than 14.5 million vehicles with Takata air bags since 2013. The automakers met last week in Romulus to discuss hiring an outside engineering firm for independent testing. NHTSA also has hired an outside firm for testing. Automakers still don’t know the root cause of why some air bags explode, throwing shrapnel at drivers and passengers.
Takata air bags are linked to at least five deaths and at least 50 injuries, most in high-humidity areas. All of the deaths have been in Honda vehicles — with four in the United States.
Takata argues the risks are very small.
Chrysler — now known as FCA US — said neither it nor Takata “has identified a defect in this population of inflators.”
“More than 1,000 laboratory tests have been performed on these components,” the automaker said. “All deployed as intended, but FCA US continues to study the suspect inflators.”
Outside of Florida, one of the areas covered by the original action, no FCA US vehicle has been linked to an air-bag deployment of the type that has raised public concern.
The initial Chrysler recall action, announced in June, was confined to Florida and three regions with similar hot and humid climates — Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The expansion affects an estimated 2,890,785 vehicles across the U.S.; 258,586 in Canada; 66,436 in Mexico; and 99,030 outside the NAFTA region. Covered are some 2004-2007 vehicles from the following model lines:
■Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups
■Dodge Ram 3500 chassis cabs
■Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen full-size SUVs
■Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger full-size sedans
■Dodge Magnum full-size station wagons
■Mitsubishi Raider and Dodge Dakota small pickups
On Thursday, Ford Motor Co. said it would expand its recall of vehicles for Takata driver-side air bags nationally, adding another 447,000 vehicles to the recall. Honda and Mazda previously agreed. Only BMW AG has refused.
In calling for the nationwide recall, NHTSA cited an August incident involving a driver-side air bag failure in North Carolina in a 2007 Ford Mustang that resulted in cuts and burns to the driver — outside the regional recall area. That’s in addition to five previous driver-side air bag ruptures, including another in a non-high humidity state.
NHTSA Deputy Chief David Friedman told reporters last month that “one incident is an anomaly, but two are a trend” in seeking the recall. NHTSA has issued a formal demand to Takata, but not to the automakers.
Automakers have also expanded recalls for additional passenger air bags in recent weeks after Takata expanded the number of high-humidity states where it believes the air bags are subject to possible failures.
Honda Motor Co. agreed to recall 2.6 million vehicles at NHTSA’s request, while Mazda has also agreed to recall about 250,000 additional vehicles. BMW AG and Chrysler Group LLC have not agreed.
Takata has repeatedly argued there is no scientific basis to expand the recall nationally.