Chrysler and the National Highway Safety Administration recently announced a recall of some 300,000 minivans for air bag problems.
The problem, limited to 2005-2006 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan models, involves a crash sensor found inside the front air bag units. The air bag sensors were made for Chrysler by Robert Bosch Corporation.
Vehicles Affected by Recall
The action covers vehicles originally sold, or currently registered, in 27 states (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia.
Vehicles sold outside of these 27 states, or approximately 185,000 vehicles, are not affected by the recall. Most of these are not involved because of lower exposure to road salt, while other vehicles had different sensors installed.
"Chrysler has determined that the supplemental front crash sensors may crack under certain environmental conditions and allow water to enter into the sensor. This can cause the sensor to become inoperative and illuminate the airbag warning light. These sensors were added to enhance the performance of the airbag system in certain frontal crashes."
Chrysler noted in a letter to NHTSA that customers who have previously fixed a faulty air bag sensor will pay consumers back, provided they have saved their receipts.
The recall notice indicates that NHTSA and Chrysler have different opinions about the severity of the problem. The report states:
"NHTSA AND CHRYSLER DIFFER REGARDING THE SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE DEFECT, BUT IN THE INTEREST OF REMEDYING THE AFFECTED VEHICLES EXPEDITIOUSLY AND TO AVOID A PROTRACTED DISPUTE, CHRYSLER IS IMPLEMENTING STEPS TO REPLACE THE FRONT CRASH SENSORS. BASED ON THESE ACTIONS, THE AGENCY HAS DECIDED THAT FURTHER USE OF ITS RESOURCES DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE WARRANTED. ACCORDINGLY, THIS INVESTIGATION IS CLOSED. THE CLOSING OF THIS INVESTIGATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A FINDING BY NHTSA THAT NO SAFETY-RELATED DEFECT EXISTS IN THE SUBJECT VEHICLES. THE AGENCY WILL MONITOR THE ISSUE AND RESERVES THE RIGHT TO TAKE FURTHER ACTION IF WARRANTED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES."
Customers will receive notices from Chrysler soon. Owners who experience problems with their vehicles should have them serviced at their dealer. Owners can also call 1-800-Chrysler or visit http://www.chrysler.com/webselfservice/chrysler/index.jsp?screenName=recall.