Some Ford Explorer SUVs May Face U.S. Recall on Fumes (Correct)

  • Corrects Sept. 16 story to show probe was previously announced
  • NHTSA announced upgraded analysis of Ford SUVs in July

Ford Explorer SUVs sit on display at a car dealership.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Several years worth of Ford Motor Co. SUV models moved a step closer to recall in the U.S. over mounting reports of exhaust fumes leaking inside.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week said it had closed a preliminary evaluation of Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles and upgraded the probe to an engineering analysis. The notice about the upgrade repeated an announcement that the regulator made July 27.

A Ford Explorer on display during the 2017 New York International Auto Show.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The NHTSA said on its website in July that the regulator and company had received 2,719 complaints pertaining to 2011-2017 model year Explorers, including Police Interceptor models.

“Our decisions are driven by the data available," Michael Levine, a Ford spokesman, said in an email Saturday. “When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers."

Crashes, Injuries

Three crashes and 41 injuries have been potentially linked to the issue since July 1, 2016, according to an NHTSA filing. Some cases included complaints of nausea, headaches and loss of consciousness, all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

While NHTSA said it hasn’t found substantive data to show that carbon monoxide was responsible for any of the incidents, preliminary testing suggested that “CO levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios.”

In August, a police officer in Auburn, Massachusetts, reportedly passed out and crashed while driving a Ford Explorer SUV specially designed for law enforcement use. He tested positive for the noxious gas. A Ford representative at the time told CBS News it would be "premature to draw conclusions" from the incident and said a closer analysis of the car revealed a carbon monoxide concentration of 13 parts per million. The current permissible exposure limit established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is 50 parts per million.

Ford contended that aftermarket modifications were responsible for any carbon monoxide exposure in that incident, and the Auburn police later agreed in a statement on Facebook. The company has said that carbon monoxide, which is odorless, has been an issue only in police models of the Explorer, while other incident reports cite exhaust smells.

In 2012 and 2014, the company issued technical bulletins to dealers to alert them of complaints regarding "an exhaust odor in the vehicle."

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