Carbon Monoxide Complaints in Ford Explorers Lead to Repair Offer, But No Recall

Amid continuing complaints about carbon monoxide fumes entering the passenger compartments in Ford Explorer vehicles, the manufacturer is offering a “limited-time” repair for 1.4 million SUVs, but is refusing to issue a full recall due to the complaints. 

On October 13, Ford issued a press release announcing that it was offering a “complimentary service” to repair Ford Explorers and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the company maintains that its own investigation indicates that there were no risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, and the company has not offered to issue a Ford Explorer recall.

The repair service covers 1.3 million Ford Explorers from 2011 to 2017 sold in the U.S., as well as 84,000 sold in Canada and 24,000 sold in Mexico. It will involve dealers reprogramming the air conditioner, replacing the liftgate drain valves, and inspecting the sealing of the rear of the vehicle.

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first began investigating carbon monoxide complaints in Ford Explorer SUVs in July 2016, after receiving 154 reports of exhaust odors permeating the vehicles. The investigation was later expanded by the Office of Defect Investigations (ODI), indicating that a total of 791 such reports had been received, including 11 reports involving Ford Explorer Police Interceptor vehicles.

Once the NHTSA looked at all of Ford’s records, it determined that there have been at least 2,400 owner complaints, warranty claims, dealer field reports and legal claims involving 2,051 vehicles.

According to the NHTSA, there have been at least three auto accidents and 41 injuries linked to the carbon monoxide problem, with those injuries including loss of consciousness, nausea, headaches and light-headedness. However, Ford disputes claims that the vehicles have a manufacturing defect that puts passengers at risk.

“These vehicles are safe,” the Ford press release states. “Our investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day.”

Ford faces at least two lawsuits over the issue, including at least one class action lawsuit over Ford Explorer carbon monoxide leaks, and an individual lawsuit filed by Sergeant Zachary LaHood, of the Austin Police Department.

Ford appears to have been aware of the problem for some time. The NHTSA and the class action lawsuit note that in December 2012 and July 2014, the company issued two “technical service bulletins” instructing dealers on ways to address the problem. However, some owners reported that the repairs did not alleviate the issue.

Carbon monoxide is one of the leading causes of poisoning deaths in the U.S., since the toxic gas has no color, odor or taste, lacking irritating factors that typically allow someone to detect it’s presence. While the vehicle fumes containing carbon monoxide should be more apparent, if individuals fail to leave the vehicle or promptly recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, they may suffer severe injury.

Prolonged exposure to the gas could potentially lead to loss of consciousness, death or permanent brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Image Credit: Image via Ed Aldridge /


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