Ford To Inspect, Repair 1.3M Explorers Over Exhaust Fumes

Image courtesy of Daniel Oines

More than a year after federal safety regulators announced they were investigating at least 600,000 Ford Explorer SUVs after receiving hundreds of complaints that potentially dangerous exhaust fumes were leaking into the car’s cabin, Ford says it will inspect and repair more than 1.3 million vehicles.

Ford announced today that it would offer the free inspections as a way to placate owner concerns about exhaust or carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicles.

Despite offering the service, Ford contends that the vehicles are safe.

“Our investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day,” the company said in statement.

“However, for our customers’ peace of mind, Ford is offering a complimentary service that reduces the potential for exhaust to enter the vehicle,” the carmaker continued.

Under the program, customers can take their vehicles, regardless of mileage or warranty status, to a Ford dealer to have this service performed, starting Nov. 1. The program will end Dec. 31, 2018.

Looking Into It

Issues surrounding the possibility that dangerous fumes were leaking into the Ford Explorer came to light in July 2016 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it had opened an inquiry [PDF] into 600,000 model 2011 to 2015 vehicles.

The inquiry came about after the agency received 154 consumer complaints — including one crash — related to the smell of exhaust fumes in the passenger compartment. Since then, there have been more than 700 complaints submitted to NHTSA, and another 2,000 to Ford.

Complaints indicate that the fumes seep into the compartment when the vehicle is operating at full throttle — such as when climbing hills or merging onto freeway ramps — or when the air conditioning system is in recirculation mode.

“It is happening on acceleration and going up steep grades and there is a sulfur/mechanical burning smell that wafts in,” a driver who alleges the issue contributed to a crash told NHTSA back in 2016. “The kids and I, as well as anyone else in the car for long durations have been getting migraines, dizzy, and just flat out sick.”

One day while driving, the man reported that he passed out from the fumes and wrecked the vehicle. He says he was traveling at a slow enough speed that no one was injured.

Police Cruisers

More recently, Ford has contended with a similar issue in Police Interceptor SUVs. The company found that the vehicles may have contained unsealed holes from the installation of police equipment by third parties after the vehicle was purchased.

Ford contends that issues in the 1.3 million vehicles set to be inspected are unrelated to the police cruiser problems.

Ford began repairing the police versions earlier this year after receiving reports that police officer had fallen ill from fumes in the cars.

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