FCA’s Ram Truck Division
Originally conceived as a truck line for Dodge, the Dodge Ram truck was first produced in 1981. This vehicle did not become a competitive product in the market until about 1989, when the B Series turbo-diesel engine was developed and added to this model. This powerful engine sparked the interest of consumers who needed a large truck to tow heavy loads. They gained even further popularity with their distinct look and feature on Walker, Texas Ranger—a trendy television show in the 90’s. Indeed, Ram Trucks did have a lot of highlights over the years; however, FCA still did not feel like this was enough. Subsequently, Ram became its own spinoff brand from Dodge in 2010, as a division of Chrysler.
Many people these days consider Ram trucks as “Dodge Rams”, and according to the former Ram president, these trucks will always be considered Dodges. While the inside of these trucks still contains the Dodge emblem, they are not fully Dodge vehicles. FCA had a logical objective behind this brand separation— to enable the continued cultivation of a younger and cooler brand identity for Dodge. Truck owners, according to Ram, deserve a different brand identity that should be cultivated separately; They deserve something that was more suitable for real truck enthusiasts, not those who just fancied the aesthetic of owning a truck. The figures prove that FCA made the right decision, as sales have steadily increased every year since 2010. The company had previously faced a huge decline in sales in the year prior, when the brands were still combined. This was prior to any exploding airbag defects.
While Ram trucks have been consistently recognized by magazines such as Motor Trend and have won several awards over the years, they don’t come without their faults. Most recently, Ram has acknowledged a exploding airbag defect with their side curtain airbag, an auxiliary safety component that ironically, is meant to protect the driver more in the event of a crash. Thankfully, Ram has confirmed this issue, notified consumers, and is working to make sure the issue gets resolved. Regardless, it’s imperative to stay informed about these components, how they malfunction, and what Ram plans to do to rectify the issue.
What Is a Side Curtain Airbag?
Side Curtain Airbags were invented to supplement the vehicle’s main airbag in the case of an accident. As safety features developed over the years, it took a while for automakers to become aware of the dangers of side impacts for consumers. They began to study data from crash tests to better understand the most useful placement for additional airbags. One of the earlier airbags created to aid vehicle owners in the instance of a collision with side impact was the head airbag—a tube that was created to protect the head from slamming into hard surfaces. This was a great step in the right direction, but it didn’t protect the whole body and it didn’t protect against flying debris. The next important invention would be the Side Curtain Airbag, which got its name because of the way it unrolls from the headliner.
There are many benefits when it comes to these airbags, aside from the recent exploding airbag defects. One of the main benefits is the airbag’s coverage of the full window during a collision, which decreases the risk of full or partial ejection from the vehicle. It also keeps debris from coming into the vehicle. Some of these airbags even provide additional protection in the event of a rollover crash by staying inflated for longer than the typical airbag. Unlike traditional airbags which have been deemed unsafe for Children, the Side Curtain Airbag does not deploy with as much force. This coupled with the fact that the airbag doesn’t invade too much of the occupant’s space have made safety experts agree that it would be advantageous for children in a collision. While these side curtain airbags are typically seen as an additional safety precaution taken by the automakers, they can be a hazard if they are defective.
Dodge Ram Airbag Inflator Defect
Fortunately for Ram consumers, the automaker has been very upfront about the airbag inflator defect that causes the side curtain airbags to malfunction. Ram mentioned that the supplier who created these airbags has already been involved in a similar recall by a separate automaker. General Motors issued this recall earlier this year for both their Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras. Ram stated that the defect is caused by moisture that was exposed to the airbag inflators when they were manufactured. They also mentioned that high temperatures could potentially aggravate the problem.
In the past, Takata had an issue with their airbags due to the Ammonium Nitrate used to produce their devices. In those cases, the chemical did not react well to moisture or humidity, causing the airbags to explode unexpectedly and with more force. The amount of force also caused the metal container that the airbag is stored in to explode, causing metal fragments to fly throughout the cabin of the vehicle. While Ram says the manufacturer did not use this chemical to produce their airbags, the reaction is similar in that the airbag unexpectedly and forcefully explodes and could send metal fragments throughout the cabin.
Not only does Ram have to worry about recalling the vehicles manufactured with these airbags, they also have to recall a smaller number of vehicles that had their airbags replaced with these defective components as well. Interestingly enough, this is not the first recall the company has released regarding the side curtain airbag malfunction, but it does seem to be the most extensive one.
Dodge Ram Side Curtain Airbag Recalls: Past and Present
The first two side curtain airbag recalls released on these vehicles by FCA may have flown under the radar as they only affected model years of 2015 and earlier. The first recall was released on July 22, 2015, and was said to only affect 2013-2015 Ram 1500s, 2500s and 3500s. The cause of the malfunction was allegedly due to the Impact Sensor calibrations, and the fix for the recall was an update of the Occupant Restraint Control Module calibration. The second recall regarding these components was released a month later and only affected 2014 and 2015 Ram 1500s. The malfunction here was noted to be that when the airbags inflate, they may not fully overlap the C-pillars during a crash. They remedied this by adding a foil patch to the headliner after performing a vehicle inspection.
The third recall affecting Ram vehicles with these airbags was released in May of 2017. This defect affected a wider range of vehicles and again, had a different malfunction than those noted before. This malfunction, caused by outside driving conditions, could cause the vehicle to disable the rollover side airbag and seat belt pretensioner in the event of a crash. An Occupant Restraint Controller update was offered to remedy the issue.
Finally, the most recent side curtain airbag recall was released on August 12, 2021. As each side curtain airbag recall has been, this fourth recall differs from the last three in that the part being recalled is the same but there is a completely different issue with it. As mentioned before, this recall was released due to threat of randomly exploding airbags when a collision does not even occur. The remedy for this recall is an inspection and replacement of SABIC assemblies if it is deemed necessary. With so many different recalls on this device, a question many consumers have asked is: “Are these airbags more of a hazard than a safety component?”
Affected Vehicles for Exploding Airbag Defects
- 2015-2019 Ram 1500
- 2015-2020 Ram 2500
- 2015-2020 Ram 3500
- 2019-2020 Ram Classic
Dodge Ram Lemon Law Claim? What to Do If You’ve Experienced Exploding Airbag Defects
Maybe you have experienced Side Curtain Airbag defects with your Ram truck, or maybe you have yet to experience these issues but are worried that you may soon. At the Lemon Law Experts, great help is just a phone call away! Our team of Lemon Law Experts have been helping California consumers with their automobile lemon law claims for over a decade.
Below is a brief list of what you should do if you have experienced exploding airbag defects:
- Take your vehicle in for repairs and recalls at an authorized Ram dealership.
- Make sure all your concerns are noted accurately by the authorized service dealership on the repair records.
- Keep copies of all your repair records and receipts!
If you have taken your vehicle to the dealership for warranty repair work related to these issues on two or more separate occasions, you may have a lemon under California Lemon Law and you could be entitled to a refund!
Contact the Lemon Law Experts Today!
If you are interested in pursuing a potential lemon law claim or have experienced exploding airbag defects yourself, call our team of Lemon Law Experts today. We do not charge you for our representation and our consultations are always fast and free. At our law firm, Lemon Law is all that we do. We have the proven track record, results, and team to provide you with excellent lemon law representation to get you the results you deserve.