A faulty Takata airbag has killed the driver of a Chrysler 300 in the US after the car’s owner – a family member of the deceased – ignored hundreds of requests for the defective device to be replaced.

A Chrysler 300C driver has been confirmed as the fifth motorist in the US to be killed by a defective Takata airbag this year – becoming the 24th death in the US and the 36th worldwide since 2009 – after the vehicle’s owner reportedly ignored more than 100 recall notices for the deadly device to be replaced.

The dead driver had borrowed the car from a family member, according to US reports.

The latest incident is eerily similar to a fatal crash reported earlier this week in which a US Honda Accord driver was killed despite being contacted by the car-maker more than 300 times to have their defective Takata airbag replaced. 

In 2013, car-makers around the world discovered certain airbags manufactured by now-defunct Japanese company Takata could degrade over time, causing the airbag to blast metal shrapnel from its inflator when deployed in a crash.

It is estimated 100 million cars from more than two dozen automotive brands originally fitted with certain Takata airbags have been recalled and replaced globally since 2013.

Despite the best efforts of regulators and car companies, some affected vehicles are still on the road with potentially fatal airbags because owners either refused to take their car in for repairs or ignored the recall notices.

The first-generation Chrysler 300C was sold in Australia from 2005 until 2011

In a media statement, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the driver of a 2010 Chrysler 300C was killed in July 2022 as a result of the car’s Takata airbag inflator rupturing during a crash.

News agency Reuters reported the driver was not the owner of the Chrysler 300C, having borrowed the sedan from a family member prior to the fatal incident.

A spokesperson for Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis told Reuters it had attempted to contact the car’s owner 114 times across the past seven years to arrange a service to replace the defective airbag.

Worldwide, an estimated 36 deaths and 350 serious injuries have occurred as a result of injuries from faulty Takata airbags, including at least two people in Australia – with the fatal incidents occurring locally in 2017 and 2019.

The latest fatality is believed to be the 24rd in the US caused by a defective Takata airbag since the first recorded death in 2009 and the fifth this year, following the deaths of a Ford Ranger driver, a Honda Accord driver and two Dodge Charger drivers. 

In November, the NHTSA issued a ‘Do Not Drive’ notice to more than 276,000 cars built by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – now Stellantis – between 2005 and 2010. This included the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum, Challenger and Charger.

According to Reuters, little more than 2000 owners of the affected cars have received a replacement airbag since the ‘Do Not Drive’ warning was published last month.

US organisation Consumer Reports has estimated there are still 11 million cars on the country’s roads which have not had their faulty Takata airbags replaced.

Drive Image

In March 2021, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced more than 4.1 million faulty Takata airbags in 3.06 million cars had been replaced, representing ‘99.9 per cent’ of local cars originally equipped with the deadly devices.

Last month, the consumer watchdog told Drive this figure had reached 100 per cent –  although its data includes cars which have not had their airbags replaced, but the vehicles have been reported as written-off or scrapped.

In its data, the ACCC includes cars which have been scrapped, stolen or unregistered for more than two years – or owned by uncontactable motorists.

To check if your car was originally fitted with a faulty Takata airbag, click here.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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