NHTSA Investigating Ford Explorers After Reports of Exhaust In the Cabin

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nhtsa investigating ford explorers after reports of exhaust in the cabin

Numerous reports of an exhaust smell in the cabin of late-model Ford Explorers prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open an investigation.

According to Reuters (via Automotive News), safety officials began looking into 2011–2015 Explorers last Friday after receiving 154 complaints of an exhaust odor. The issue, which is reported to be a factor in one crash (that didn’t result in injuries), persists in some vehicles even after they were repaired to correct the problem.

Ford Motor Company issued two technical service bulletins to dealers in 2012 and 2014, but the work reportedly didn’t solve the problem for everyone. The NHTSA said owners notice the smell mainly during full-throttle acceleration and when the air conditioner recirculates air through the cabin. Some owners expressed worry about carbon monoxide exposure.

A Ford spokesperson acknowledged the investigation, stating, “We will cooperate with NHTSA on this investigation as we always do.”

The NHTSA isn’t saying how many models it has investigated. An investigation often leads to a safety recall, but not always. In April, Ford recalled 2014–2015 Explorers to inspect rear suspension toe links that could weaken and fail, leading to a crash.

Join the conversation
6 of 33 comments
  • Jimmyy Jimmyy on Jul 05, 2016

    Why buy a Ford with design defects like this when you can get a Honda Pilot? Takes a low IQ to purchase a Ford vehicle with exhaust in the cabin.

    • See 1 previous
    • IDANECK IDANECK on Jul 07, 2016

      @BuzzDog The new Pilot has a different engine than the prior generation. I've heard of complaints about the VCM software on the second gen Pilots, I'm guessing that was the cause for a misfire? You're right though, every vehicle seems to have an issue.

  • Multicam Multicam on Jul 06, 2016

    HA, I laughed when I read the headline. My '94 Wrangler had an extremely strong exhaust smell in the cabin at all times when I first got it, no matter what configuration I had the doors/windows in (I almost always have all of them off). Turned out the exhaust leak was where the downpipe meets the muffler and I patched it up with some putty stuff. Now I have a slightly less strong smell of exhaust in the cabin. I'm pretty sure the seven months I've owned it have taken 15 years off my life and given me three types of cancer.

  • Maserchist Maserchist on Jul 06, 2016

    I remember certain vehicles of old that actually had warnings about leaving rear windows down (station wagons) that would allow exhaust gases to enter the rear of the vehicle when rolling down the highway of life. That being mentioned, I've always also thought about "Lucky" being transported in a trailer hitch mounted cage riding down the road. I've always wondered if the CO concentration was over the 35ppm and/or if a headache or brain damage would result.

  • Aquineas Aquineas on Jul 07, 2016

    There's a huge thread about this on the Explorer forums. I was very interested in a Ford Explorer Sport until I came across the thread.