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Is Your Explorer Poisoning You With Exhaust?

Posted on March 2, 2017

A federal investigation is focusing on exhaust fumes filling the cabin of the popular SUV, Ford Explorer.

Many consumers have complained of a rotten egg smell coming from the back of Ford Explorers. That smell may be more than unpleasant, it may be toxic.   

A dash cam video shows Newport Beach, California officer Brian McDowell behind the wheel of his 2014 Explorer police cruiser.  CBS News reports he was responding to a call when he blacked out behind the wheel, crossed into ongoing traffic and crashed into a tree.

McDowell dislocated his shoulder, suffered traumatic brain injury and a broken eye socket. 

There was no medical reason for him to black out. McDowell had no drugs or alcohol in his system.

The smell may be carbon monoxide and the issue seems to occur while the vehicle is accelerating with the AC on.   

NHTSA finally launched investigation in July after 154 customer complaints about the 2011 to 2015 model Ford Explorers. Now, CBS reports there are 450 complaints and they include the 2016 and 2017 Explorer models. 

NHTSA reports there have been no serious injuries, though office McDowell’s accident could hardly be discounted as “not serious,” since he nearly died.   

Officer McDowell is suing.

In Florida, Angela Sanchez-Knutson sued Ford in 2014 over the odor in her car. After eight service visits to a Sunrise dealership, the dealership said it had no idea how to fix the problem. 

Her lawsuit claims consumer protections laws have been violated.

Last October, in response to the Sanchez-Knutson lawsuit, Ford agreed to a national settlement to benefit up to one million consumers.

Consumers who purchased or leased a 2011 to 2015 Ford Explorer are part of the class which offers several components of relief — first, repairs including additional sealing efforts and parts replacement including HVAC recalibration. 

If necessary, the exhaust tips and muffler assembly will be replaced. 

Consumers will be offered cash if they are out of a warranty period. 

If the problem is not fixed, Ford will buy back the car. 

One million Ford Explorer owners and lessees must be directly informed about the exhaust issue as part of the settlement. 

The settlement was reached after the trial began. 

For its part, Ford has issued three repair bulletins since 2012 so car dealers can fix the problem. The bulletins do not mention the “dangerous quantities” of carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger cabin, according to a lawsuit filed against Ford. 

Ford also says consumers should contact their local Ford dealer and the odor “poses no safety risk.”

To remedy the situation for now, police cars in Newport Beach carry monoxide detectors in the cabin. CBS News reports some have gone off.