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The Takata airbag fiasco never seems to go away. Over 100 million vehicles are part of the massive recall over the years to have the defective airbags replaced. But not all. Now a report of an accident on May 13 where an exploding inflator killed a passenger has prompted Ram to issue a “Do Not Drive” order. 

Almost 30,000 Ram trucks from 2003 that owners didn’t respond to are now getting a new round of recall notices, according to the Detroit News. Stellantis sent six recall notices to this owner’s home. “All went unheeded,” the automaker told Automotive News. Stellantis is responsible for sending over 200 million Takata airbag recall notices. 

Is it unusual for passengers to die from defective Takata airbags?

Deployed driver's side airbag
Deployed airbag | Joe Raedle via Getty

This is the first death from a Takata airbag in a 2003 Ram truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also says this is the first death from a passenger-side airbag as well. “If you have one of these vehicles, do not drive it until the recall is completed and your defective airbag is replaced,” the NHTSA says.

“One such vehicle was involved in a collision that caused its airbags to deploy,” Stellantis said in a statement. “An occupant in the front passenger seat, who was also the vehicle’s owner, succumbed to a serious injury consistent with those observed in previous Takata inflator fatalities.” 

How many Ram pickups have been recalled?

Ram logo on grille of black truck
Ram logo on grille | Darren McCollester via Getty

Ram began issuing recall notices for the defective Takata airbags in 2015, with over 385,000 2003 Ram trucks involved in that initial recall. Today, it estimates that 84,000 2003 trucks have still not had the defective airbags replaced, though it considers around 30,000 of those are still on the road.

“The older a defective Takata airbag inflator gets, the more dangerous it becomes,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s acting administrator, in a statement. “Please, get your airbag replaced now for your sake and for the sake of those who love you. Don’t put yourself or someone you love at risk of dying or from serious injury because of a defective, recalled Takata airbag. These repairs are absolutely free and could save your life.”

If you own a 2003 Ram pickup, where can you get more information?


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In all, 26 people have died from defective airbag inflators in Takata airbags. Worldwide, the number of deaths is 30, with over 400 injuries reported. It is the largest vehicle safety recall ever. 

Should you have questions or concerns about the Ram truck you are driving, there are several ways to get answers. Both Ram and the NHTSA have websites you can go to. Stellantis also has a customer service center you can call at 833-583-0144. In all cases, make sure you jot down your truck’s VIN for reference.