More Than 3,000 Complaints Filed Over Ford Explorer Carbon Monoxide Problems

Thousands of Ford Explorer owners say they have suffered a carbon monoxide injury or symptoms of problems that appear to be linked to leaking manifolds in certain versions of the popular sport utility vehicle (SUV).

According to a recent Bloomberg News report, more than 3,000 complaints about Ford Explorer carbon monoxide problems have been submitted to the maufacturer or U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the last five years, including reports of nausea, dizziness, illnesses and auto accidents that may be linked to carbon monoxide gas entering the passenger cabin.

Concerns about the potential risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in Ford Explorer vehicles first emerged in 2014, prompting the NHTSA to open a formal investigation.

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In June 2018, the agency reported it had discovered at least 1,381 complaints involving carbon monoxide exposure to drivers and passengers, which may have resulted in at least three automobile accidents and 41 injuries. However, since that update the number of consumers reporting carbon monoxide exposure in Ford Explorer SUVs has more than doubled, and critics say Ford Motor Company has taken no significant action to address the problems.

Ford maintains that no exhaust problems exist, and that the amount of carbon monoxide recorded inside of the vehicles tested was no different than any amount customers come in contact with throughout the day. However, according to roughly 2,300 warranty claims submitted to Ford, most were found to have leaks in the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter, which in the Explorer models, are welded together to form a sign part.

Several problems detailed in the claims included porous welds, cracks, and poor fitting with other components that easily allowed the exhaust fumes to escape before exiting the tail pipe. Many of the records reflect the necessary repair would be to replace the manifold and converters to prevent exhaust leakage, according to Bloomberg.

Despite continuing reports and injuries, Ford has refused to issue a recall to replace the cracking manifolds, which the NHTSA identified as the likely source of the problem in July 2017, as part of the agency’s independent investigation. Instead of issuing a Ford Explorer recall, the auto-maker has offered a less expensive “complimentary service” repair, which adds an additional weather sealant and reprogramming of the climate control to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the cabins.

Investigating the case specific CO leakage reports has been a challenging task for the NHTSA, due to the gas being colorless and odorless and having no physical impact to pinpoint the occurrence or cause. The gas’s ability to escape the cab if a window is rolled down or car door is opened has made testing incidents even more challenging.

In July 2018, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) released a statement accusing the NHTSA and Ford of failing to adequately recognize and repair the CO leak problem in roughly 1.3 million 2011 through 2018 Explorer SUV’s.

In 2017, the Ford Explorer issue made national headlines when California and Massachusetts pulled the vehicles from their police department fleets following several officers testing positive for prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide. Ford later commented on the issue that the police vehicles were different from the civilian problems due to the after-market modifications performed in the police fleet, such as drilling holes in the bodies of the vehicle for special wiring.

Carbon monoxide is often described as the “silent killer”, as the typically gas has no smell, taste, color or other irritating factors that may allow individuals to detect a leak. Following prolonged exposure, symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure may result in mental confusion, vomiting, loss of consciousness and quickly cause death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 400 people in the U.S. per year, on average.


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