Dizzying Number of Exhaust-in-cabin Reports Plague Ford's Explorer

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dizzying number of exhaust in cabin reports plague ford s explorer

After the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration launched an investigation into reports of a sulphurous exhaust smell in the cabins of 2011-2015 Ford Explorers, numerous complaints have rolled in concerning newer models.

Now, a California police officer claims the exhaust led him and his patrol vehicle on a date with a tree.

Last July, NHTSA launched a probe into older current-generation Explorer models after receiving 154 complaints about a strong odor. Since the first complaints in 2012, Ford has issued three technical service bulletins to address the issue. Potential remedies included sealing and coating the rear floor pan and body seams, replacing the air extractor, installing new drain valves and a software update.

According to some complaints, the supposed fix did nothing to end the odor, which often seems stronger during heavy acceleration and when the air conditioner is in use. Of the reports, only one involved a crash. No injuries were involved in that incident.

Fast forward to this week, CBS News discovered complaints submitted to NHTSA about the exhaust odor have ballooned to over 450. The tally of worried drivers now includes owners of 2016 and 2017 models.

One driver who claims the “no injuries” report is false is Newport Beach police officer Brian McDowell, who told CBS he believes he was overwhelmed with fumes while driving a 2014 model-year Explorer while on duty.

“I just had that nauseous feeling and just feeling like I had a headache,” McDowell said. After that, it was lights out. McDowell’s Police Interceptor Utility, a law enforcement version of the Explorer, left the road and impacted a tree. The officer suffered a dislocated shoulder, fractured eye socket and traumatic brain injury. However, when doctors attempted to find out why McDowell had suddenly passed out, a cause eluded them.

Now, McDowell believes it was carbon monoxide from an exhaust leak that caused his blackout. He has since filed a lawsuit against Ford. Following the crash, the Newport Beach PD has installed carbon monoxide detectors in its vehicles — some of which, McDowell claims, have gone off.

Another owner, retired Army veteran Ron Booth, told CBS he’s had his 2015 Explorer in the shop five times to fix the problem. Still, the odor persists. Booth has also outfitted his cabin with a carbon monoxide detector.

A class-action lawsuit filed against the automaker by a North Carolina was settled last year for an undisclosed amount.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • White Shadow White Shadow on Feb 16, 2017

    4th generation 4Runners were notorious for strong sulfer exhaust smell during/after hard acceleration. That's one thing I don't miss about my old 4Runner.

  • Fishiftstick Fishiftstick on Feb 16, 2017

    What bugs about Honda's TPMS sensors is, they don't tell you which wheel. They need 4 sensors anyway. How much more can 3 extra dash LEDs cost?

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 16, 2017

      There are four sensors but they transmit to one radio receiver. It's more complicated, and expensive, than extra LEDs.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.