The recall regarding 2003 Dodge Ram pickups (back when it was still Dodge, not just Ram) isn't new. It was first announced by the manufacturer and the National Highway Transportation Association in 2015 and involved over four hundred thousand 1500, 2500, and 3500 series trucks. The recall details have recently resurfaced, after someone was killed by a faulty airbag in one of the affected trucks in May of this year, according to Reuters.
They've been trying to reach you.
Stellantis (the parent company of Chrysler/Ram) says it attempted to contact the now-deceased occupant of the vehicle six times to inform them that their vehicle needed a crucial recall repair, wrote Consumer Reports. But people move, forwarding addresses expire, phone numbers change, and email notifications can land unnoticed in your Junk folder. Some owners may choose to simply ignore the risk.
Thousands of these trucks are still on the road.
TheZebra.com analyzed vehicle ownership data and determined that most Americans own the same car for eight years. In Montana, it seems like we hold on to them a little longer. My car is 11 years old, and I see tons of older Dodge trucks on the highways and two lanes in Big Sky Country. It's estimated around 29,000 of these 2003 Dodge Ram pickups are still on the road. Perhaps as farm trucks, work trucks, daily drivers, or the rig you occasionally use to go to the dump or drag the boat to the lake.
It's part of the massive airbag recall.
The 2003 Dodge Ram recall is not the only make/model of vehicle that has been impacted by the massive airbag recall. Faulty Takata brand airbags have been used in hundreds of thousands of vehicles, from many manufacturers. In the Dodge Ram recall, the issue is explained as:
The propellant wafers in some of the subject inflators may experience an alteration over time, which could potentially lead to over-aggressive combustion in the event of an air bag deployment.
Consumer Reports added a more graphic interpretation,
...faulty Takata airbags could explode in a crash and spray metal shrapnel into the vehicle cabin, killing or severely injuring occupants.
If you or someone you know drives a 2003 Dodge Ram, be advised that the company has issued a "DO NOT DRIVE" warning. It's easy to see if your vehicle is under recall or if the repair work (free) has been done. You can enter your VIN HERE.